Car Accident Lawyer Fees and Payment Options 2024 Guide

If a motorist causes a car accident and injures you or damages your property, you have legal rights. In most states, you can recover compensation for property damage and for personal injury losses, including medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and even emotional damages.

While the at-fault driver’s insurer will typically offer you a settlement if you accept responsibility, this may not be enough to fully compensate you for all of your damages. If fault is disputed or you have suffered serious injuries and you do not believe you are receiving fair compensation, it is a good idea to hire an attorney to help you.

An experienced car accident attorney will fight on your behalf to help you obtain the full amount of money possible, whether through a negotiated settlement or a court judgment. While you may have to pay car accident attorney fees for their services, it is often worth it to hire an attorney who knows the ins and outs of the law and can help you maximize the money you receive.

So, how much are car accident lawyer fees if you decide to hire an attorney? Here’s what you need to know.

Car Accident Settlements and Judgments

Car accident cases are generally resolved in two ways:

The accident victim accepts a settlement from the insurance company representing the at-fault driver or, in some states, their own insurance company.

The accident victim files a court case and a jury determines how much money they should be awarded.

An experienced car injury attorney can help with both types of cases. And car accident lawyer fees vary depending on the approach ultimately taken.

Contingency Fees of Lawyer’s

In almost all car accident cases, car injury attorneys charge clients a contingency fee. This means that accident victims will not pay attorney fees unless their attorney helps them recover money for their losses.

When car accident attorney fees are charged on a contingency basis, they are charged as a percentage of the compensation the victim receives.

The specific percentage may vary depending on whether the case is resolved through a settlement or goes to trial. It usually ranges between 25% and 40% and most lawyers charge around 33%. A lawyer may charge 25% if the case is resolved quickly, for example, or up to 40% if a lengthy trial is required due to the complexity of the case or because the defendant appeals the decision.

If you were awarded $250,000 in your case, this could mean you will end up paying as little as $62,500 if your case is resolved quickly or as much as $100,000 if a lengthy trial is necessary.

These costs are for legal fees only; Expenses are an additional cost and are charged separately.

Keep in mind that all reputable attorneys provide you with a written contract for their services that details their fees and what you must pay. If you are not given a written contract, ask for one.

Contingency Fees and Expenses

While car accident attorney fees depend on the outcome of a case, there are costs associated with filing a personal injury claim after a car accident. In some cases, but not all, clients will be expected to pay these fees regardless of the outcome. Therefore, if you hire a car accident lawyer, you will need to know their policies regarding legal fees.

These expenses can include things like:

  • Court filing fees
  • Court reporter fees
  • Expert witness fees
  • The cost to obtain police reports and medical records

Some large personal injury companies cover these expenses during the case and simply deduct the money from the settlement when they receive it. Other car accident attorneys require clients to pay these fees as they are incurred.

Other Payment Methods

While a contingency fee is the most common way to collect car accident attorney fees, it is not the only model for paying an attorney to help you with a car accident case. There are other payment structures as well, including a flat fee, hourly rate, or a hybrid arrangement.

Flat Fee

A flat fee agreement occurs when a car accident attorney charges a set amount to represent you for the entirety of the case. You can arrange to pay the fee through a payment plan, but you will often have to make an initial payment.

Retainer Fee

Some car accident attorneys will require you to pay a fixed amount up front called a retainer fee. This usually means that you pay in advance for a certain number of hours and then are billed if more time is needed. Additional payments may be made depending on the outcome of your case.

Hourly Rate

If you pay an hourly rate to a car accident attorney, your attorney will track the time spent handling the case and charge you an hourly rate. You should agree to fees in advance and request a good faith estimate of how much time the attorney will spend on the case.

Paying an hourly rate might be the best option if you just need a little help, such as a lawyer’s help reviewing a settlement offer made by the at-fault driver’s insurer.


A hybrid agreement means that there is a combination of payment methods. For example, a lawyer may charge a flat fee up front to begin your case and may then receive a percentage of the damages you receive depending on the successful outcome of your case.

Do you need a lawyer in a car accident case?

Hiring an attorney is important after a car accident case to protect your rights and ensure that you receive the full amount of compensation you deserve after an accident.

A Martindale-Nolo survey found that 74% of car accident victims with an attorney recovered compensation from the at-fault driver, while only 54% of people without an attorney received compensation. Victims who had an attorney also received an average of $44,600 per accident case compared to $13,900 for those who did not hire an attorney.

Remember, insurance companies have the goal of paying the least amount of money possible and they have legal professionals who represent them, know the law and fight for your interests.

You deserve to have a professional by your side who can help you get the compensation you need. It is usually worth paying a car accident attorney’s fee to get you the funds you deserve and eliminate the stress of trying to navigate the post-collision claims process on your own.