The days, weeks and even months following a serious car crash injury are often hectic and stressful. There are bills to pay, insurance forms to sign, people to call and appointments to attend – all of which can distract from what’s most important: your recovery.

Maybe you’ve considered hiring a lawyer and filing a personal injury lawsuit against the individual responsible for what happened. But with everything else going on, you worry it might be too expensive. The truth is, it doesn’t have to be.

Expect a contingency fee

Most personal injury attorneys work on a contingency basis. Rather than charging you by the hour, they take a percentage of the award if the case is successful. What might that rate be? The industry standard is about one-third of the award. For example, if you win $9,000 in the case, the attorney would get $3,000 of that.

However, in recent years, some lawyers have been pushing that rate upward, sometimes to 40% or above. If you’re concerned about cost, you may want to try to negotiate the contingency percentage, or simply look for an attorney that charges a lower fee.

What happens if the case isn’t successful? Then the attorney doesn’t receive any contingency fee. (However, there may still be some additional costs to settle, such as court filing fees and deposition expenses.)

Agreeing to a contingency fee

Before agreeing to any payment arrangement, it’s important to make sure you understand everything. Consider questions such as:

  • What is the contingency fee rate?
  • Will that fee go up or down if the case settles or goes to trial?
  • What other expenses might need to be paid for?

There are significant benefits to hiring an attorney to represent you in a personal injury case. They know the law, understand the compensation you might be able to secure, and can advocate on your behalf while standing up to defendants that don’t want to pay. They also take care of much of the legwork, allowing you to focus on more pressing matters.

Still, having questions about how the process will play out and what it might cost is perfectly natural.