How Much Do Lawyers Charge for Truck Accident Claims?
So there you are, laid up in the hospital and unable to work because an 18-wheeler slammed into your car and seriously injured you. You know you’re looking at a long recovery and you’re worried about money. But you’re hesitant to contact a truck accident lawyer because you fear that he or she will charge you upfront fees that you don’t have.
Relax. That’s not the way it works. Virtually all personal injury lawyers, including those deeply experienced in helping truck accident victims, not only offer you a free initial consultation, but also charge a contingency fee, not an hourly rate.
Contingency Fees Explained
A contingency fee arrangement is one in which the lawyer takes and pursues your case for free in exchange for your agreement to pay him or her a certain percentage of your ultimate settlement or jury award amount. The percentage rate, and how it’s structured, varies from lawyer to lawyer and the specifics of the employment contract that both of you sign. In all situations, though, the lawyer doesn’t get paid unless and until he or she successfully resolves your case. In addition, the fee must be reasonable, as established by the state’s rules of professional responsibility or, in some states, the rules of court.
Straight Contingency Fee
In a straight contingency fee arrangement, the lawyer will charge you a flat percentage, usually between 33% and 40%, regardless of whether your case settles or goes to trial.
Bifurcated Contingency Fee
In a bifurcated contingency fee arrangement, the lawyer charges you a lower percentage, say 20%, if he or she settles your case, and a higher percentage, such as 40%, if your case requires him or her to conduct a full-blown jury trial.
Sliding Scale Contingency Fee
In a sliding scale contingency fee arrangement, the lawyer charges various percentages based on the amount he or she recovers for you. In Michigan, a lawyer can charge you no more than 33% of the first $1 million he or she obtains for you, 15% of the next $4 million, and 10% of any amount over $5 million.
Fees Versus Expenses
Keep in mind that there is a difference between the fee that a lawyer charges for the time and work involved in successfully resolving your case and the expenses of litigation that he or she encounters in doing so. Some lawyers may want you to pay these expenses, such as court filing fees, accident investigator fees, or expert witness fees, as they occur. Other lawyers, especially those working in larger firms with greater resources, will front these expenses for you and and reimburse themselves out of your ultimate settlement or jury award before computing the amount of their contingency fee.
As you shop around for a truck accident lawyer, which you have every right to do, don’t be afraid to talk fees during the initial consultation. In fact, the lawyer should not only be able to give you a ballpark estimate of what your claim is worth, but also to explain exactly what and how he or she will charge you.
Once you choose the lawyer to hire, he or she will then draft an employment contract for you to review that sets forth the details of the contingency fee arrangement to which the two of you have agreed. Both of you will sign this agreement, and you will receive a copy of it.
In Michigan, the amount of your lawyer’s contingency fee is computed based on the net sum recovered. What this means is that, when the settlement or jury award check arrives, your lawyer will first pay expenses out of it to the proper parties, such as to your medical providers and others to whom you still owe money as a result of your accident and to his or her law firm as reimbursement for investigation and litigation expenses the firm fronted for you. This leaves a net balance that he or she will distribute to you and his or her law firm according to the terms of your employment contract.
For example, say that your lawyer obtains a $1 million jury verdict for you, but you still owe the hospital $35,000 and the law firm fronted $5,000 in litigation expenses for you. Also assume that your employment contract calls for a 33% contingency fee to the lawyer. The full computation will look like:
- $1 million – $35,000 to the hospital = $965,000
- $965,000 – $5,000 reimbursement to the law firm = $960,000
- $960,000 – $316,800 to the lawyer as his or her 33% contingency fee = $643,200
- $643,200 to you
Michigan Truck Accident Statistics
Now that you know how contingency fees work, let’s look at some Michigan truck accident statistics:
- In 2019, 16,604 Michigan accidents involved either a truck or a bus.
- Nearly 828 of this total occurred in construction zones.
- 291 of this total involved drugs or alcohol.
Common Truck Accident Causes
The causes of truck accidents are as varied as the causes of any other type of motor vehicle accident, and include:
- Distracted driving
- Failure to yield
- Unsafe lane change
- Driver fatigue
- Poorly maintained vehicle
Possible Lawsuit Defendants
When a truck hits you, it’s far more complicated to determine fault, and therefore who to sue. Possible defendants include:
- The driver himself or herself
- The company for which he or she works
- The company tasked with maintaining and repairing the truck
- The truck manufacturer
- The cargo company
- The cargo loaders
Michigan Statute of Limitations
Your best interests dictate that you hire a truck accident lawyer as soon as possible after your accident. The sooner you hire him or her, the sooner he or she can get to work investigating your case to determine liability. The Michigan statute of limitations gives you only three years from the date of your accident to file suit against the negligent party or parties.
Choosing Your Truck Accident Lawyer
At the Mike Morse Law Firm, we are proud to be the largest personal injury law firm in Michigan. We practice only personal injury law, and we do it very well. Our team of over 40 deeply experienced lawyers and large staff of legal professionals have been helping the good people of Michigan get the compensation they need and deserve after an injury since 1995. To date, we have served over 25,000 injured clients, collecting in excess of $1 billion for them, including:
- $2,720,000.00 for a client who suffered a herniated disk requiring two surgeries after being hit by a truck
- $1,182,500.00 for a client who suffered a traumatic brain injury after being side-swiped by a semi-truck
- $500,000.00 settlement for a client who suffered a brain injury after being rear-ended by a truck
We are fully prepared to help you, too.
Our main goal is to take the burdens of dealing with insurance companies, wending your way through the legal system, and worrying about money off your shoulders so that you can focus on recovering from your injuries and getting back to the life you love.
We also pride ourselves on giving you superior client service. You may be sure that we will always treat you with the dignity, respect and empathy you deserve as a human being.
So contact the Mike Morse Law Firm today. Your case evaluation is absolutely free, and you will hear back from us regarding our analysis within two hours of your initial contact. And oh, yes. We work for you on a contingency basis and don’t get paid unless and until you do.