How Much Do Lawyers Charge for Motorcycle Accident Claims?

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Motorcycle accidents are among some of the worst personal injury cases because they commonly result in tremendous losses and severe injuries. With serious injuries comes a long recovery time, and collecting medical debt while losing income can be devastating. If you suffered an injury in a motorcycle accident caused by the other driver, you deserve the chance to recover your losses and even receive compensation for the pain and suffering you endured. A personal injury lawyer is an asset in your case, and you typically have no financial burden by hiring one.

What Is a Contingency Fee?

The good news is that most personal injury lawyers work on contingency. That means that your lawyer does not get paid until you receive compensation. It is best to call an attorney in the immediate aftermath of your accident when your memory is fresh. An attorney will conduct an initial consultation to hear the details of the accident and advise you further. When a lawyer agrees to represent you, it is a good indication that he or she believes you have a strong case.

Two Variations

Contingency fees have two common structure variations used in specific cases:

  • The hourly arrangement still does not require payment until you recover damages, but your attorney tracks the hours he or she spent on your case. You pay the hourly rate multiplied by the number of hours logged for your case. However, this form of the contingency fee is typically used in cases where the attorney’s fees are paid by the losing side. 
  • The mixed hourly-contingent arrangement requires that you pay part of your attorney’s hourly rate at the beginning and the rest when you receive compensation. This variation usually stipulates that the attorney also receives a percentage much smaller than the normal contingency fee in addition to the hourly rate.

Remember that the foundation of the contingency fee is that it is contingent upon whether or not you recover damages.

How It Works

Once your case concludes and you receive compensation, either by settlement or through a trial, your attorney receives payment in the amount of an agreed-upon percentage. How much varies, but the average is around 33% or a third of the settlement. Some factors that influence the contingency fee include the risks and complexities of your case as well as who paid for the litigation costs throughout.

Your lawyer will help you understand the risks involved in your case and outline the complexity. The risk for any attorney working on contingency is that he or she may lose the case. Therefore, a riskier case warrants a higher contingency fee, usually between 35% and 40%. In cases where the other party is clearly at-fault and the case is likely to end in a fair and easy settlement, the contingency fee is usually around 20% to 25%.

Litigation Costs

There are several costs associated with litigating a personal injury case, and you typically pay them. Litigation fees vary from case to case, but they may include:

  • Filing fee. The cost to file your claim with the court system may be up to $400 depending on where you file. 
  • Collecting evidence. The goal in a motorcycle accident case is to prove that the other party is at fault for your injuries. The burden of proving fault falls on you. Therefore, you have to collect evidence to prove the other driver’s role in the accident and prove that your injuries were caused by the accident. This includes collecting copies of public documents and medical records, interviewing witnesses, and more. These may cost up to a few hundred dollars.
  • Expert witnesses. Expert witnesses may include a doctor, a mental health professional, a vocational expert, an accident reconstruction expert, or an automotive expert. Sometimes you need several experts to validate your claim, and each one assesses your case, prepares a report, and testifies. One expert may cost as much as a few thousand dollars.
  • Discovery costs. Discovery is the process before the trial that allows both sides to access relevant facts from the other side in an effort to avoid surprises. An associated cost is hiring a court reporter for the deposition, which may cost as much as $1,000 depending on how long the deposition takes. 
  • Miscellaneous costs. Incidentals, such as the cost of postage and making copies of documents, can add up to a few hundred dollars in cases that are document-heavy. 

Your attorney will help you assess the needs of your case. For example, not all cases need several expert witnesses.

Additionally, how much both you and your attorney receive from compensation depends on when you pay litigation costs. For example, if your litigation fees amount to $20,000 and your attorney’s contingency fee is 35%, the order in which both are paid affects your final payout. If the jury awards you $300,000 and you pay litigation costs first, your attorney gets 35% of $280,000, which is $98,000, and you get $182,000. If the attorney receives payment first, he or she gets $105,000 and you receive $175,000. That is a difference of $7,000 for you.

What Is the Value of a Motorcycle Claim?

Liability and damages affect the value of a motorcycle accident claim. Liability describes who is at fault for the accident and is subject to the state comparative negligence rule. Comparative negligence states that the percentage of responsibility you bear for the accident is deducted from the total award. If a jury finds you 20% at fault, you receive the awarded amount minus 20%.

There are two types of comparative negligence:

  1. Pure comparative negligence states that are you may receive compensation regardless of your percentage of fault.
  2. Modified comparative negligence states that you are not eligible for compensation if you are more than 50% at fault for the accident. 

The majority of states follow the rule of modified comparative negligence.

Damages are the losses you incurred because of the accident. They include:

  • Economic damages: cost of medical treatment and future medical treatment, cost of lost wages and future lost wages, loss of earning ability, loss of consortium, property damage, and any other out-of-pocket expenses
  • Non-economic damages: pain and suffering, mental anguish, emotional distress

You calculate economic damages using medical bills, paystubs, estimates from auto repair, and other receipts. Non-economic damages are less easily quantifiable, but your attorney understands how to properly value the losses.

Settlement and Trial Values

There are two potential outcomes in a motorcycle accident case: your case settles through negotiations or goes to trial. The vast majority of personal injury cases result in settlement. In general, a settlement value is less than a trial value. However, trials are significantly more costly. One of the benefits of hiring an attorney to handle your case is that he or she can advise when it is best to settle and when it is best to go to trial.

How Can a Motorcycle Accident Lawyer Help You?

Most motorcycle accidents are settled outside of court. However, when you struggle to reach a fair settlement, you have the option to file a lawsuit to recover the damages incurred. An attorney knows how to value your claim and get the compensation you deserve. Contact the experienced motorcycle accident attorneys at Mike Morse Law Firm to schedule a free consultation.

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