How Do Car Accident Attorneys Get Paid In Houston?
There are roughly 6.75 million car accidents every year in the United States alone. Unfortunately, that means that several people in southeast Texas will need to work with a car accident attorney in Houston at some point in their lives.
If you’ve never had to deal with a severe car accident, you might be wondering how an attorney makes money off your case. You should know that in Texas, car accident attorneys have their fees set up in a way that benefits the client, as most accident lawyers work on a contingency basis. Learn more about how car accident attorneys get paid here!
What Is a Contingency Basis?
A contingency basis means that your lawyer is directly invested in your case because your lawyer only gets paid if you win your case and receive a settlement. Under this system, you won’t pay any money upfront when you work with an attorney. You’ll have an agreement that your attorney will collect a portion of your damages upon either an agreed-upon settlement with the insurance company or the successful judgment against them in court.
Because of that, the number that is paid in a settlement isn’t the amount that the victim ends up receiving in their pocket. In most cases in Texas, where car accident attorneys in Houston work on a contingency basis, grant the lawyer one-third of the amount agreed to in a settlement or decided by a judge. In the example of a $60,000 settlement, the victim will get $40,000, and the lawyer will receive $20,000. This is one reason settlements take time to get figured out: the lawyer and the insurance company must determine a fair number for the client’s injuries that leaves them with enough money to address their issues and pay their attorney.
If there’s no settlement, the lawyer doesn’t collect a penny for the lawsuit. As you can see, with this setup, you’ll get a lawyer with plenty of incentives to fight for your rights in court.
Why Do Car Accident Attorneys in Houston Work on Contingency?
Working on a contingency basis is meant to protect the client and the legal system. Many clients who are the victims of someone else’s negligence behind the wheel do not have the money available to pay for a lawyer. That would mean they would effectively have no way to defend their rights in court, as the plaintiff wouldn’t be able to be represented by a public defender and wouldn’t have the means to hire an attorney.
To protect against this, attorneys essentially trade in a guaranteed payment at the start of the case for a higher payment later when the victim can afford it. A case taken on a contingency basis can result in a higher fee than what the victim could have paid if the money was available when the case began, but there’s no way to predict that at the start of the trial. Plus, with prepayment likely not being an option at the start of the case, this system allows people to protect their rights by hiring a reputable attorney without worrying about the cost.
Why do the courts prefer to have car accident attorneys in Houston work on a contingency basis? Simple: using a contingency-based system limits the chance of frivolous lawsuits. You’ve probably seen a television show where someone filed a lawsuit after getting injured for some reason, but that doesn’t happen because is real life.
When a car accident attorney works on a contingency basis, they’re only going to accept a case they think they can win. If they don’t have a way to argue their case, they’re only wasting their time and the court’s time with a desperation play. This helps the courts from getting overwhelmed by frivolous lawsuits, because if lawyers only bring in cases they think are winnable, that drastically cuts down on the number of cases on the docket. That’s why lawyers are happy to offer a free consultation for each case: they want to know when they meet with you if there’s a winnable case available. If there is, they’ll be happy to take it, but if not, they’ll encourage you to go somewhere else with your legal situation.
How Is Contingency Different From Pro Bono?
You might think that working on a contingency basis sounds like pro bono work, but the difference comes at the end of the case. When you work with an attorney taking the case pro bono, they’ll state upfront that they’re representing you in a pro bono manner. There won’t be any confusion about your need to pay; you wouldn’t have to pay a cent, regardless of the size of the settlement.
A lawyer who works on contingency will have you agree to a percentage of your settlement or judgment in writing before deciding to represent you. You still won’t pay anything upfront, but it will be in writing that the attorney is entitled to an agreed-upon portion of your judgment upon a successful resolution of your case. Again, there won’t be any confusion here: you’ll have agreed to the terms before the lawyer begins representing you.
How Does a Contingency Basis Help Me?
Since car accident cases can be pretty complex, it’s often better for the client to work with a car accident attorney in Houston who works on a contingency basis. That’s because proving a plaintiff’s claim in the case of a car accident can be time-consuming and paying an hourly legal fee often isn’t a good idea for many clients, even if they have the money. In the long run, you’ll likely save by paying one flat fee at the end of your case, overpaying for every hour of research and preparation.
If you need a car accident attorney in Houston, the team at Smith and Hassler is here to provide expert legal advice. Trust them to determine if you have a winnable case and your legal options to adequately protect your rights in the face of an insurance company’s unwillingness to be fair!