Car Accident Lawyer Cost and Fees

Car Accident Lawyer Fees

Learn how much a car accident lawyer might cost and the fees associated with hiring one for your case. Call or fill out our form to be connected to an experienced attorney in your area. 

The Real Costs of a Car Crash

Over 6 million cars crash into something each year in the U.S. In these accidents, 3 million people sustain injuries, 2 million people suffer permanent injuries and close to 33,000 people die. In fact, 90 people die in a car accident every day.

If you become injured in a car crash, you will quickly discover that the costs associated with it are high at best and catastrophic at worst. This is why so many accident victims file a personal injury lawsuit against the driver whose negligence caused the accident. When you obtain the services of an experienced car accident lawyer, he or she will aggressively advocate for your right to receive the maximum possible compensation.

Initial Medical Costs

Your costs begin escalating immediately, starting with the cost of your ambulance transportation from the car accident scene to the hospital. The average price of this ride ranges between $224 and $2,204 depending on where you live. Other average price ranges for common initial costs include:

  • Emergency room care: $1,096–$3,000
  • X-ray: $260–$460 per X-ray
  • CT: $270–$4,800 per scan
  • MRI: $400–$3,500 per scan
  • Hospital care: $2,500–$4,000 per day
  • Surgery: $25,000–$170,000 per operation
  • Physical therapy: $50–$350 per session

Ongoing Medical Costs

Should you receive a debilitating injury, your medical costs will continue to mount. The average cost of inpatient rehabilitation alone is $1,600 per day. Consequently, if your injury requires you to spend three months in a rehabilitation facility after your hospital release, you can expect to pay $144,000. This amount excludes visits with your physician, each of which can cost between $70 and $250 depending on where you live. It also excludes your ongoing costs for prescription medications.

Loss of Income

All of the above expenses come at exactly the same time as your income plummets because you can’t work due to the car accident. You may face losses such as:

  • Worker earning $15 per hour: $2,600 loss per month
  • Manager earning $80,000 annually: $6,667 loss per month
  • Executive earning $150,000 annually: $12,500 loss per month

Lifetime Medical Costs

Should your car crash leave you with a catastrophic injury, your lifetime medical cost of injury becomes truly staggering. For instance, lifetime costs associated with four common auto accident injuries amount to the following:

Noneconomic Costs

Unfortunately, as financially devastating as medical and associated costs after an accident can be, they only tell half the story. Accidents also produce noneconomic costs such as:

  • Physical pain and suffering
  • Your mental and emotional anguish
  • Your embarrassment over being seen in public due to your disfiguring scars
  • Loss of your ability to have normal sexual relations with your spouse
  • The loss of your ability to fully perform your parenting duties
  • The loss of your ability to participate in your favorite sports or other physical activities, such as hiking, dancing, camping, etc.
  • Decrease in your enjoyment of life

While it’s difficult to attach a precise dollar figure to these intangible, subjective but very real costs, personal injury attorneys report that noneconomic damages represent substantial amounts:

  • For an accident resulting in physical disability: $1,155,000
  • An accident resulting in serious injuries: $318,000
  • An accident resulting in slight injuries: $147,000

Fees for Hiring a Car Accident Lawyer

Now that you have a better understanding of the true costs of your motor vehicle accident, you likely want to explore the possibility of filing a lawsuit against the person who caused it. However, you may hesitate to contact an attorney because you fear you will have to pay attorney’s fees that you cannot afford.

Fortunately, this seldom is the case. Most car accident lawyers not only offer free initial consultations but also handle personal injury cases on a contingency fee basis. This means you pay no attorney’s fee unless and until your attorney obtains compensation for you. Then he or she takes a percentage of your settlement or jury award as the fee.

The advantage to you of a contingency fee arrangement is that you pay no upfront money to your lawyer. In addition, hospitals and other health care providers often agree to wait for their payments until your attorney has obtained your compensation.

How Contingency Fee Arrangements Work for a Car Accident Lawyer

The attorney you contact can thoroughly explain the type of written contingency fee employment contract he or she will draft for your particular situation. Most accident lawyers charge a percentage of your ultimate compensation recovery, with 35% being the norm.

Some attorneys, however, prefer a graduated percentage agreement based on the amount of work they will perform for you. For instance, your lawyer may charge a 33.3% fee if he or she settles your case without having to go to court, but 50% if he or she must conduct a jury trial.

Your contingency fee contract undoubtedly will also address how expenses will be handled. Keep in mind that all lawsuits involve expenses such as:

  • Court filing fee
  • Copies of medical records and reports
  • Accident investigation expenses
  • Witness interviews and depositions

Large personal injury law firms generally have the resources to pay these expenses themselves, recouping them from your ultimate compensation amount. A smaller firm with fewer resources may require you to pay them as they occur.

Make sure you understand who will pay what and when they’ll pay it before you sign the employment contract. Also make sure you understand how your compensation award will be distributed. For example, if your attorney obtains a $1 million settlement or jury award for you, the distribution may look something like this:

  • $1 million – $2,500 attorney-paid expenses = $997,500
  • $997,500 – $332,167 (attorney’s fee, one-third of $997,500) = $665,333
  • $665,333 – $50,000 (payment of your outstanding medical and other bills) = $615,333 that you receive

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