If you have been injured in an automobile accident, then you will probably wonder if you can afford an auto accident attorney to represent you and help you receive compensation for your injuries, damages, pain, and suffering. Auto accident attorneys are compensated by two different methods. This makes it difficult to figure out how much money they make, and how much thy will charge to represent you and handle your case. Yet you can get a good idea of how their compensation works, regardless of where you live in the country.
How Much do Auto Accident Attorneys Actually Make?
There are no easy statistics available for how much attorneys who specialize in auto accidents make. Lawyers do have national statistics for income, regardless of where they practice in the country and what law specialization they pursue. The average hourly wage for all types of lawyers in America is $62.23. Their average annual income works out to be $129,440. Naturally, some attorneys who practice more lucrative types of law will earn far more than this. Auto accident attorneys can be very successful, and their compensation depends heavily on how many cases they win.
Hourly Compensation Method of Payment
It may surprise you to learn that car accident attorneys do not typically take these types of cases for a per hour rate. In the unusual cases where they might though, you would have to compensate the attorney for literally every hour that he or she spends on your particular case. These fees would accrue and have to be paid even if you did not win and never saw any money from the party who bore the responsibility for the car accident in the first place. Even if your case was not settled out of court and you could not win it in court, you would still be required to compensate your attorney and cover the legal fees.
Consider yourself warned that there is a reason why this by the hour billing rate is not a common method of compensation for car accident attorneys. Any attorneys who insist on representing you by the hour are not giving your case much of a vote of confidence. They are telling you that they have very little confidence of winning or settling your case. This is why they insist on getting paid, regardless of how your case goes. It might be an indication that you should settle for the insurance company offer and live with it.
Contingency Fees for Auto Accident Injury Claims
By far the most common means of compensation for car accident lawyers is the contingency fee method. When an attorney is compensated by contingency fee, you are only required to pay him or her if the lawyer is successful in collecting money from the party (or his or her insurance company) who was responsible for the car accident. This means that if the attorney is unable to settle or to win your accident case, then you will not have to pay for their services.
The prevalence of these contingency case payments explains why it is so difficult to determine how much auto accident lawyers make on average. Contingency fees are determined using a percentage amount of the final judgement or settlement. Some of the attorneys work on a percentage of the gross amount of the award, before the expenses are subtracted. Other attorneys get a percentage of net monies awarded, after the expenses are subtracted. It gets even more complicated as some states, like New York, have limits on how high a percentage that contingency case lawyers are able to take. These percentage amounts are also different from one region of the U.S. to the other. It is also true that you could haggle your car accident attorney down on his or her percentage, if you are able do so persuasively before hiring the firm.
The upside to this method of payment is that should your attorney lose your case or fail to settle, then you do not have to pay for their time and services. Besides this, attorneys working on contingency are highly motivated to win and win big, as their compensation is directly determined by the monetary size of the award or settlement.
The downside to contingency is that you may feel the end result is unfair. Your lawyer might be able to settle the case without much work. In this case, you could believe that your attorney’s efforts did not justify the hefty percentage fee, which could easily be twenty-five to thirty-five percent and even up to fifty percent in some cases.