In addition to being a traumatic experience, car accidents often result in a substantial financial burden for the accident victim and his or her family. If you or a loved one has been involved in a serious car accident, you have likely experienced this firsthand: medical bills continue piling up one after another, all while you are limited or even completely unable to work.
If this sounds familiar, the thought of hiring a personal injury lawyer to help with your case may at first seem questionable. After all, you are already facing rising costs associated with the accident. So how much does an accident lawyer charge? And can you afford it?
A free consultation with our team can provide the guidance and advice you need to determine your next steps. This consultation comes with no obligation for you to hire our firm – it’s quality legal advice, without cost, for you. Call the team at Judd Shaw Injury Law today at 1-866-909-6894 to schedule your personal case review.
While legal procedures and lawyers are not often presented as being affordable, there are systems in place to allow injury victims to receive the legal representation they need after an accident. One is that of paying on a contingency fee basis.
How Contingency Fees Help Injury Victims
The lawyers at Judd Shaw Injury Law work on a contingency basis. This means two things: first, the lawyer receiving payment is contingent (or dependent) on the lawyer winning a settlement for his or her client, and second, there are no up-front costs for representation – all fees are paid out of the settlement amount.
This works in the favor of an injury victim in a number of ways. Since the lawyer is only able to recover payment if a settlement is won, his or her interests are in line with the interests of the client. What’s more, since contingency fees are a percentage of the settlement recovered, personal injury lawyers have the incentive to work to recover the maximum amount of compensation available for the client.
Another way this system benefits injury victims is by removing the financial burden required to hire a lawyer. For other types of legal representation, for example, retainers are often used. When using a retainer system, the client is required to pay up-front for the legal services the lawyer will provide.
In the case of a personal injury, this kind of system could prevent personal injury victims from receiving the representation they need. When working with contingency fees, though, even personal injury victims who do not have large financial means can benefit from quality legal representation, increasing their chances of recovering fair compensation for their losses. In addition, if a lawyer working on contingency fails to recover a settlement for the client, he or she is not left with a large legal bill on top of their other accident-related expenses.
Contingency Fee Laws in New Jersey
Each state has its own laws related to how contingency fees must be paid as well as setting any limits to the amount that can be charged. New Jersey Rules of Court 1:21-7 governs contingent fees in the state.
According to these rules, the maximum amount of contingency fees a personal injury lawyer can recover is:
- 33 ⅓ percent on the first $750,000
- 30 percent on the next $750,000
- 25 percent on the next $750,000
- 20 percent on the next $750,000
Under the same code, there are additional regulations when the client was a minor or “mentally incapacitated” when the arrangement was made.
In many cases, there are additional legal fees or costs that are not included in the contingent fees. These expenses must be taken out of the settlement before the contingent fees are paid. This arrangement benefits the injury victim, allowing him or her to recover a larger amount.
To illustrate, let’s take an example of a $100,000 settlement at 33.3 percent contingency fees, with additional legal costs of $5000. If the contingency fee is charged first, the lawyer would receive $33,333, leaving the client with $66,667. Deducting the $5000 from the client’s portion would then leave him or her with $61,667.
Now, let’s see what happens when the additional costs are removed first. The settlement amount left is $95,000. The lawyer would receive $31,635, leaving the client with $63,270. By deducting the additional fees before the contingency fees, the client receives nearly $2000 more. In larger settlements, this can make a substantial difference.
Additional Types of Legal Fees in a Car Accident Case
While contingency fees are used to pay for the legal representation provided, they do not always cover all legal expenses that can be involved in your cases.
When filing a lawsuit or commencing legal proceedings in personal injury cases, there are often a number of fees for filing necessary documentation.
For example, the United States District Court District of New Jersey has a list of fees due the court. These costs include services such as:
- Administrative fees
- Processing fees
- Application fees
- Filing fees
- Certification of a document
- Retrieval of records
In addition, office and administrative fees for the law firm may be incurred from the start of legal representation.
Expert testimony costs
In many cases, experts may be consulted in order to provide valuable insight or opinions to help strengthen a case. These experts can consult on a variety of matters, such as accident reconstruction.
Working with an expert witness can include costs such as:
- Initial consultation
- Record review
- Reports and calculations
- Trial appearances
Know Your Contract
Before you hire a personal injury lawyer after a New Jersey accident, make sure you know and understand your contract. It should outline the payment structure, as well as what is and what is not included in the contingency fees for your case. This ensures that there are no misunderstandings or confusion as to what you will pay.
Some may hesitate to hire a personal injury lawyer because of the contingency fees. Accident victims may reason that they could save 33 percent of the settlement by handling the case on their own. However, while handling a case yourself without legal representation technically spares you the legal fees, you may find it nets you less money in the long run.
For example, personal injury victims who are represented by personal injury lawyers often recover a much higher settlement amount than those who represent themselves. Imagine a person who decides to handle the case alone and wins a settlement of $10,000. The true amount of damages he or she could have recovered was actually $20,000. Even when subtracting the fees of 33.3 percent, the client could still net more than the original $10,000.
Contact Judd Shaw Injury Law for a Free Consultation
After an unexpected accident, there are a lot of unknowns. However, you do not need to be left in the dark about your legal options. Our team is happy to provide a free consultation and case review to help you understand your rights, whether you hire us or not.
At Judd Shaw Injury Law, we work for the interests of our clients, not the insurance companies. By taking a dedicated, personal interest in each of our clients’ individual stories, we are able to “work the wow” and offer high-quality representation and excellent customer service.
Contact our team today to learn more about how we can help you and your family after a New Jersey accident. Call us 24/7 at 1-866-909-6894, or fill out our online form, for a free consultation.