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The Car Accident Lawyer Fees You Can Expect: A Helpful Guide

Are you wondering how much will a car accident attorney cost? If yes, you should check out our guide here on the typical car accident lawyer fees.

There are two important things you need to do after a car accident: get medical help and hire a lawyer.

While going to the doctor is one of the first things people think of after getting into a car accident, many people put off getting legal help. But you don’t have to have thousands of dollars waiting in your bank account to hire a lawyer. Hiring a lawyer might not be as expensive as you think.

We’ve put together this guide to walk you through common car accident lawyer fees and to show you what you can expect to pay.

So let’s get started.

How Much Does a Car Accident Lawyer Charge?

There’s no one-size-fits-all answer to this question. The exact amount of money a car accident lawyer will charge depends on several factors, including their experience, where you live, the specifics of the case, etc.

For example, lawyers who work out of L.A. will charge more than lawyers who are established in a small town.

The fee arrangement the lawyer uses will also affect the overall cost. A lawyer who uses a specific hourly rate might cost more money in the long run than a lawyer who works on a contingency fee.

Here’s a closer look at how the different fee arrangements work and how much you can expect to pay for each one.

Flat Fee

If a lawyer charges a flat fee for their services, it means they’re charging you a set amount of money upfront. But this is an uncommon type of fee arrangement. You most likely won’t find a car accident lawyer who charges a flat fee.

However, that isn’t always true.

If you only need a lawyer to help you with one small task, a car accident attorney might decide to charge a flat fee for the job.

For example, let’s say you need to write a demand letter as part of your car accident case. Instead of doing it yourself (and possibly doing a bad job), you can hire a lawyer to prepare it for you. In this case, the lawyer will most likely charge you a flat fee of a few hundred dollars for the work.

That said, you probably won’t have to worry about paying a flat fee when you’re working with a car accident lawyer.


If a lawyer charges an hourly rate, you’re responsible for paying that amount regardless of whether you win or lose your case.

Again, the amount a lawyer will charge per hour depends on several factors, such as experience. You can expect to pay anywhere from $100 to $500 an hour for most lawyers. If you find a lawyer that charges less than $100 an hour, that might not be a good sign—you get what you pay for, after all.

Hourly fee arrangements are more common than flat fees, but most car accident lawyers don’t use this method, especially true if you’re the plaintiff. If you’re the defendant, on the other hand, paying an hourly fee is much more likely.

Since it’ll be harder to win your case as a defendant, many lawyers use an hourly fee arrangement to ensure they get paid for the work they provide.

Contingency Fee

This is the most common type of fee arrangement for car accident lawyers. When you hire a lawyer who works under a contingency fee, you don’t have to pay them anything until you win your case.

Here’s how it works.

Lawyers that use a contingency fee take a percentage of your total recovered amount. The standard percentage for car accident cases is 33%, but the percentage can go up to 40% or down to 20% depending on your circumstances.

So let’s say you’re awarded $100,000 after winning your case. Your lawyer will take 33% of that amount, which is about $33,000. After the lawyer takes their share, you’ll be left with $67,000 in total.

If you don’t win your case, the lawyer doesn’t get paid at all. This means you know the lawyer you hire will be just as motivated to win your case as you are.

Retainer and Contingency

Some car accident lawyers will charge a retainer fee at the beginning of your case. After you pay this amount, they’ll continue to work on your case under a normal contingency fee.

When you win your case, the amount you paid for the retainer will be subtracted out of the lawyer’s 33%.

For instance, let’s continue with the $100,000 example. If you win this amount of money, the lawyer will get $33,000 of it. However, let’s say you paid a $2,000 retainer when you first hired the lawyer.

In this case, the lawyer will only get $32,800 at the end of the case. So although you have to pay more money upfront, you are paying the same amount in the long run.

Other Expenses You’ll Have to Pay

Paying the lawyer isn’t the only thing you have to think about when hiring a car accident lawyer to work on your case. You’re also responsible for several other smaller expenses along the way. These include things like:

  • Court filings
  • Court reporters
  • Expert witnesses
  • Mailing costs
  • Record fees (such as medical documents and police reports)
  • Etc.

Your lawyer might cover these costs themselves as they work on your case. Once you win your case, however, they’ll add the amount they spent on these expenses to their 33%.

In some cases, you’ll have to cover these extra expenses right away yourself.

Breaking Down Car Accident Lawyer Fees

Car accident lawyer fees are expensive, but in most cases, you don’t have to pay for all of it upfront. If you work with a lawyer who uses a contingency fee arrangement, you won’t have to pay them until you win your case.

But that doesn’t mean you don’t have to pay anything. You will still have to pay several hundred dollars (maybe more) on other expenses related to your case. It’s a good idea to talk to your lawyer to understand what you will be responsible for before you hire them.

Want to learn some other helpful legal tips?

Make sure you take a look at the rest of our blog!

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