When you are facing medical expenses and lost wages after a car accident, it is important to recover as much money as possible. Recent surveys show that claimants who work with an attorney consistently walk away with higher payouts than those who represent themselves. So, how much does a car accident attorney in Houston or San Antonio cost, and is having one worth the investment?
How Much Will a Car Accident Attorney Cost?
The cost to work with an attorney who specializes in car accidents and other forms of personal injury law varies depending on the firm’s rates and the magnitude of your accident. Most claimants prefer to hire a car accident attorney who works on a contingency fee basis.
If your legal fees are to be paid according to a contingency fee, your attorney will charge a percentage of the payout. That means two things. First, you will not pay anything until you receive money from a settlement offer or until a court sides in your favor. Second, your car accident attorney is incentivized to win you the biggest payout possible.
What Is the Typical Contingency Fee Rate?
Car accident attorneys charge anywhere from 25% to 40% of the payout. The usual rate is around 33%, or one third. Your attorney might charge a lower rate if your case is straightforward and a higher rate if it is more complex.
For example, when the two of you start working together, you might agree to 30% if all parties are able to settle outside of court quickly and 40% if the case goes to trial. With this type of agreement, the final rate is determined according to how the case progresses. Some car accident attorneys might allow you to negotiate on the fee, especially if you can demonstrate that you have a wealth of evidence supporting your claim and can expect it to resolve with a simple demand letter.
Who Pays the Court Fees and When Are They Paid?
If your case goes to trial, you might incur court fees including:
- The court reporter fee
- The cost of getting the police report and your medical records
- Fees for expert witnesses
You and your car accident attorney should discuss how these fees are to be paid before you start working together. In some situations, the plaintiff pays the fees as they come due. In other situations, the law firm will cover them until the case is resolved. You should also discuss whether the contingency fee will be taken from the payout before or after the legal fees are deducted.
How Much Is a Car Accident Claim Typically Worth?
The value of a car accident claim is influenced by many factors, including the severity of your injuries and the skill of your car accident attorney. In Texas, drivers are required to carry insurance with a minimum of $30,000 for each injured person, $60,000 for all injured people per accident, and $25,000 for property damage. However, the payout for an accident can be much higher.
The average personal injury payout for a car crash claim in Texas is around $15,000. This figure reflects both claimants who work with a car accident attorney and those who do not. A settlement of this amount would be appropriate for an accident involving one person who sustained mild injuries. However, crashes involving catastrophic injuries usually bring in upwards of $2 million. In general, the greater your injuries and the harder your attorney can negotiate with the insurance company, the more compensation you stand to recover.
Why Are Payouts Higher for Claimants Who Work With a Car Accident Attorney?
Car accidents are costly events that can take a serious toll on the injured parties. If you are looking for a way to maximize your compensation, working with a car accident attorney is one of the best steps you can take. Even after the contingency fee, claimants who have legal representation usually win a significantly higher payout than those who do not. Here are some of the ways in which your attorney can increase the value of your claim:
Verifying That the Amount of Money You Seek Will Cover All Your Damages
Car accident attorneys are familiar with all of the damages that are eligible for compensation in a car accident case. These include medical expenses, lost wages, emotional stress, and pain and suffering. It is a car accident attorney’s job to make sure you list all the applicable damages when you submit your claim.
Many times, claimants find that by working with an attorney they learn that they are eligible for some damages they would not have otherwise considered. For example, most people do not know that if they are self-employed, they can claim lost wages for jobs they could not take as a result of the accident. Similarly, a salaried employee might not know to claim his or her missed 401k benefits as lost wages.
Calculating the True Cost of Catastrophic Injuries
If you suffered catastrophic injuries that will take a significant toll on your life, a car accident attorney can help with the complex calculations needed to determine how costly the injury will be in the long run. Sometimes, an attorney will bring in an accountant or an economist to make sure the amount you seek in compensation is sufficient.
Keeping You Informed Throughout the Legal Process
When you have a personal injury case, there are legal protocols that, if followed incorrectly, can invalidate your claim. For example, you must observe the statute of limitations, which is two years in Texas from the date of the injury. Your car accident attorney can help you avoid making mistakes that could cost you your compensation.
In addition to making you aware of legal requirements, your attorney will share his or her knowledge of manipulative insurance company tactics. For example, the other driver’s insurance company might ask you for a recorded statement. You are not required to give one, and if you do, anything you say can legally be used as evidence to devalue your claim. Similarly, any settlement offers you receive early in the process could be low-ball attempts to get you to agree to an insufficient amount before you have had time to understand the true value of your claim.
Demonstrating Expert Communication Skills
When negotiating with an insurance company or arguing a case in court, it is essential to communicate clearly and build convincing arguments. Attorneys spend years building these skill sets through law school and real-world experience. When you choose a car accident attorney, their track record of victories will let you see for yourself how well they perform.
The Importance of Transparency
When our car accident attorney take on new clients, we do everything to ensure that the legal fees are transparent and that everyone is comfortable with the arrangement. During your consultation, we will give you some estimates for how much money we think your claim is worth, based on our experience with others like it. You will then have the opportunity to ask us anything you would like to know about our fees.
Find a Car Accident Attorney in Houston or San Antonio
A qualified car accident attorney should always be worth the cost of the legal fees. We work on a contingency basis, meaning that regardless of the outcome of the case, you will never spend money that you don’t get back many times over. To reach our car accident attorney in Houston or San Antonio, contact Joe A. Gamez Law Firm, PLC, today!