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CostHelper > Personal Finance  > Legal > Car Accident Lawsuit

Car Accident Lawsuit Cost


How Much Does a Car Accident Lawsuit Cost?

 
low costLow: Small Claims Court Fees Run $20-$320+average costMedium: Personal Injury Attorneys on Contingency Typically Charge 30-40% of the Settlement
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Many car accident claims are settled without legal assistance when it's clear who's at fault and the damages and injuries are minor. However, if the facts are in dispute, you may want to hire an attorney and file a lawsuit.

Typical costs:

  • If the amount in dispute is less than $2,500-$15,000 (the maximum allowed varies by state), you could handle the case yourself in Small Claims Court, usually without lawyers. Filing fees and other costs can run $20-$320 or more.
  • Property damage claims (reimbursement for repairing/replacing your car) are handled separately from injury claims. Because the amounts involved are often much less than medical bills, lost wages and pain-and-suffering costs from injuries, many attorneys do not handle the property damage portion of a claim, but will give you tips about negotiating with the insurance company or pursuing a case in small claims court. In some cases, a lawyer who is handling your injury lawsuit may also handle your property damage claim at no additional charge.
  • For injury lawsuits (where the other driver is at fault), most lawyers work on a contingency basis -- they don't get paid until you do, and then they take anywhere from 30-40 percent of the money received. (Generally the lawyer's percentage is lower if the case is settled pretrial, and higher if it goes to trial or is appealed.) If you don't get any money in a settlement or court judgment, you don't owe any legal fees. Some lawyers charge a percentage of all money received; others take their percentage after the medical bills are paid. In a case with $50,000 in medical costs and a $100,000 settlement, a lawyer charging 33 percent of the total gets $33,000.
  • In addition to your lawyer's fees, there are also court costs, expert witness fees, investigation charges, clerical labor and other expenses. In most states your attorney will pay these and be reimbursed out of the final settlement/judgment. These costs start around $1,000-$2,000 for a simple case but can go much higher, depending on what's involved. A lawyer might also advance you the costs of your medical care, but in some states this is considered unethical. Your medical costs may also be paid by your health insurance and then be reimbursed out of the settlement/judgment.
Related articles: Property Damage Lawsuit, Small Claims Court

What should be included:
  • It's important to keep good records, starting with information about any other drivers involved and any potential witnesses. FindLaw.com explains what to do[1] after an auto accident and lists insurance claim do's and don'ts[2] .
  • During the pre-trial "discovery" phase, both sides exchange information about the case. If the other attorney is trying to show that in some way you contributed to the accident or had pre-existing injuries, your private life and information may become part of the court record. There's also the possibility of an appeal, but it's rare in auto accident cases.
  • Alternatives to court include mediation (voluntarily meeting with a trained mediator to attempt to resolve the dispute) and arbitration (an agreed-upon arbitrator hears the evidence and, judge-like, decides how to settle the dispute). If you'd like to avoid court, ask the insurance company or any other parties in the dispute if they're willing to submit the case to mediation or arbitration.
Shopping for a car accident lawsuit:
  • Car accidents are one type of personal injury law cases. Ask about the attorney's training and experience, particularly with car accident cases. Lawers.com explains how to select[3] a personal injury lawyer. FindLaw.com lists documents to show[4] an attorney after a car accident and provides a checklist[5] for preparing for a first meeting with an attorney.
  • Search for car accident lawyers at FindLaw.com[6] and the American Bar Association[7] .
  • Your attorney should provide you with a written fee agreement. Be sure you understand exactly how and when the fees will be deducted from any settlement/judgment you receive.
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What People Are Paying - Recent Comments
att. ken nugent in augusta ga
Amount: $4,500.00 total
Posted by: rebecca newman in lincolnton, GA.Posted: October 6th, 2009 05:10PM
Firm: ken nugentPercentage of Settlement: to damn much
allow me to say he got more than he deserved i only got 2,500 he didn't even pay any of my medical bills like he said he did because they contacted me and i had to pay them the insurance company that was being sued said that what i was suppose to get was 4xs larger than what i got that is why i don't trust lawyers and i was in an accident sept. 14 of this year and the guy who hit me was at fault that lawyer screwed me and it won't happen agian
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Attorney
Amount: $0.00 total
Posted by: Gene in Brooklyn, NY.Posted: February 4th, 2009 07:02AM
Firm: anyPercentage of Settlement: 33.3
You don't pay unless attorney wins or settles your case.
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External Resources:
  1.  injury.findlaw.com/car-accidents/after-a-car-accident-first-steps.html
  2.  injury.findlaw.com/car-accidents/car-insurance-claims-dos-and-don-ts.html
  3.  personal-injury.lawyers.com/Personal-Injury-Basics/Personal-Injury-Selecting-a-Good-Law...
  4.  injury.findlaw.com/car-accidents/documents-to-show-your-attorney-after-a-motor-vehicle-...
  5.  injury.findlaw.com/car-accidents/checklist-preparing-to-meet-with-your-attorney-after-a...
  6.  lawyers.findlaw.com/lawyer/practice/Motor-Vehicle-Accidents----Plaintiff
  7.  apps.americanbar.org/legalservices/findlegalhelp/home.cfm
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