If you were injured in a pedestrian collision caused by a negligent driver, you should retain an experienced pedestrian accident lawyer to negotiate your settlement with the insurance company. However, you may be worried that you cannot afford to hire an attorney, especially if you have expensive medical bills to pay and have no income while you are off work recovering from your injuries.
Fortunately, most lawyers handle these cases on a contingency fee basis, which makes it affordable for accident victims to hire them. You will be much more likely to recover the compensation you deserve for your injuries if you retain an attorney who will fight for your rights rather than trying to settle your claim on your own.
How a Contingency Fee Agreement Works
When a lawyer charges their fees on a contingency fee basis, you would not have to pay them any fees upfront to hire them. They would take a percentage of your settlement or judgment if your case went to a jury trial as their attorney fees. If they were unable to settle your case or did not win your case at trial, you would not owe any attorney fees.
The percentage that a lawyer would charge can vary. The range is often between 25 and 40 percent, with 33 percent being a common standard fee. Some attorneys charge a different percentage depending on whether they can negotiate an out-of-court settlement with the insurance company or must file a lawsuit and litigate a case.
Other Costs and Expenses Could You Owe
You will also be charged for the costs and litigation expenses associated with your case. Some lawyers will require you to pay them as they are incurred, while others would pay them and deduct them from your settlement or judgment. Typical costs and fees you could owe include:
- Medical record copying costs
- Cost of obtaining the police report
- Court reporter fees for depositions
- Expert witness fees
- Court filing fees for filing your lawsuit and motions
- Process server fees
Your attorney should explain how you will be expected to pay these costs and expenses before you retain them. You should also sign a contract, often referred to as a retainer agreement, that clearly states the attorney fees, costs, and expenses you will owe. Be sure to read the agreement carefully before you sign it.
Why How Much an Attorney Costs Should Not Be Your Only Consideration When Deciding Who to Hire
While how much a lawyer will charge you will be one of the factors to consider, it should not be the only one you use when deciding which attorney to retain. Choosing a lawyer who devotes a large portion of their practice to car and pedestrian crash cases and has a track record of successfully settling and litigating cases for other pedestrian accident victims is important.
There are many benefits of retaining a more knowledgeable lawyer rather than looking for one that charges the least expensive fees. Some of the ways this can help you include:
- Investigate your crash. A skilled lawyer will understand the importance of conducting a thorough investigation into the cause of your pedestrian accident to determine who is liable to compensate you for your injuries.
- Collect evidence. If you want to win your case, you will need to collect evidence to prove how the driver’s negligence caused your accident, the seriousness of your injuries, and the amount of damages you should recover. An attorney who handles many pedestrian accident cases will know what evidence you need and will collect it for you.
- Avoid mistakes. You want a lawyer who will take over all communications with the insurance company and advise you on how to avoid mistakes, such as agreeing to give a recorded statement or accepting a quick settlement, that can weaken your claim.
- Negotiate your claim. A dedicated attorney who handles many pedestrian collision claims will be able to value your claim accurately. They will go up against the insurance company so that you receive a fair settlement and will have strategies to defeat the insurance adjuster’s tactics to deny your claim or to pay you less money than you are entitled to.
- Litigate your case. It is important to hire a lawyer who is not afraid to litigate your case if this is in your best interests and who has successfully taken cases to trial for other clients—even if they charge higher fees.