When a negligent driver seriously hurts you in a Las Vegas car accident, you expect their insurer to pay for your injuries. Even if you realize that car accident injury lawyers help injured victims get better settlements, you might decide to handle your own claim anyway. That’s probably because you don’t know how much lawyers charge for car accident claims and you’re hesitant to enter into a legal arrangement that might significantly reduce your settlement.
It makes sense to be cautious, especially when you have no settlement guarantees. Of course, lawyers charge a fee for their services, just like doctors, accountants, and other professionals. Unlike those professionals who charge by the hour and send you monthly bills, car accident attorneys handle cases for a contingency fee.
Car Accident Injury Attorneys Provide Legal Services on a Contingency Basis
Car accident lawyers perform numerous legal services throughout the life of your injury claim. They investigate your accident, evaluate liability and damages, and when you’re ready, they negotiate your settlement. These critical tasks usually require numerous hours of legal and support work, but injury attorneys don’t charge for their services until they finalize your claim.
When a car accident attorney handles an injury claim, they do it on a contingency basis. This means that they provide months and sometimes years of essential legal services, but they never send you a bill. You don’t owe anything until your attorney resolves your claim.
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How Contingency Fee Billing Works
When you and your car accident attorney agree to establish a working relationship, both of you sign a contingent fee agreement. The document describes both parties’ responsibilities and duties. It also explains how the contingency fee arrangement works.
The Nevada Bar Association’s recommended agreement outlines a car accident attorney’s traditional contingency fee arrangement. In exchange for their legal work, car accident attorneys earn a percentage of the compensation they recover. Each increase in fees reflects the increase in the workload required at various stages.
- Initial case assessment and handling, 25% fee: When your attorney settles your claim without filing a lawsuit, the fee is 25% of the gross damages recovered. During this stage of your claim, your attorney conducts an investigation, analyzes liability, evaluates your injuries, and attempts to settle your claim through direct negotiation with the insurer or in an alternative dispute resolution process.
- Litigation and discovery, 33⅓% fee: If your attorney prepares and files a lawsuit, but settles your case before the trial begins, the fee totals 33⅓% of the gross amount recovered. After an attorney files a lawsuit, he reconsiders ADR and participates in discovery, which includes depositions, document requests and production, court conferences, and continued negotiation attempts.
- Trial and continued negotiation, 40% fee: If your attorney resolves your case during or after a first trial, or he produces a favorable court judgment, the fee is 40% of the gross amount recovered. During a trial, your attorney presents your case evidence, examines witnesses, and asks a jury or judge to find the other driver negligent.
- Settlement after a defendant files an appeal following a first trial, 45% fee: When your attorney settles your claim after the defendant appeals the results of the first trial, the fee increases to 45% of the gross amount recovered.
Your contingency fee agreement also explains your obligation to pay expenses and costs. If a defendant wins, you might also be responsible for paying some of their litigation costs.
What Types of Expenses and Costs Does an Attorney Deduct from Your Final Settlement?
Your attorney incurs expenses while preparing your case for presentation and settlement. When your attorney must file suit to recover damages on your behalf, the expenses increase to cover court and discovery-related expenses. Attorneys advance these costs out of their firm’s resources and deduct them from any settlement or court award.
- Trial exhibits
- Expert analysis and testimony
- Medical records, exams, and narrative reports
- Economic experts
- Court costs and filing fees
- Witnesses summonses
- Court reporter fees
- Video deposition expenses
Your Nevada Attorneys’ Billing Practices Follow Ethical Standards
When a Nevada attorney bills you for services, his procedure must follow the Nevada Rules of Professional Conduct. The National Bar Association drafted these ethical standards and the Nevada Supreme Court adopted them on behalf of attorneys statewide. Rule 1.5 in both the state and national guidelines explains what constitutes reasonable attorney billing practices.
Section 1.5 (C) establishes guidelines for attorney contingency fees. They must meet the following standards.
- An attorney may bill based on a contingency arrangement unless it’s otherwise prohibited.
- The agreement must be in writing and explain how the attorney determines the fees.
- The agreement must describe percentage variations based on settlement, litigation, trial, and appeal.
- It must outline the attorney’s method for deducting expenses from recovered compensation.
- The agreement must advise the client if he must pay defense costs if the defendant wins the case.
- Upon concluding the case, the attorney must provide a written statement explaining your settlement, expenses, and legal fees.
When you talk to a Nevada car accident attorney, he will explain everything you need to know about legal charges for your car accident.
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Contact a Nevada Personal Injury Attorney Today
When a negligent driver injures you, you need a car accident attorney working to recover damages on your behalf. At Pacific West Law, we deal with liability insurers, negligent drivers, and defense attorneys. We protect your legal interests while you focus on getting better.
Visit our contact page to arrange a legal consultation. When you reach out to our law firm, our legal representative listens to you, answers your questions, and explains your legal options.