Recovering after a Bad Day at the Amusement Park

Tips For Negotiating The Contingency Fee For Your Motorcycle Accident Case

It is no secret that litigating a motorcycle accident case can be expensive. Your biggest expense will be the attorney's fees, which can land anywhere between $150 and $400 per hour. Many times, however, an attorney will litigate the case on a contingency basis, meaning the person will take a percentage of any settlement or court award you win. Here are a few tips for negotiating a contingency arrangement with an attorney to ensure the rate charged is fair to both of you.

Negotiating the Attorney's Cut

According to the American Bar Association, attorneys typically charge a contingency fee of 33 to 40 percent. There are several factors that influence the percentage an attorney will ask you for your case:

  • State laws governing attorney's fees
  • The estimated amount of time required to litigate the case
  • Whether the case is easy or difficult to prove
  • The amount of money the client is likely to be awarded
  • The attorney's level of experience
  • How much other attorneys in the area charges
  • The level of risk inherent in the case

Some of these things are beyond your control. For instance, an attorney in a metropolitan area like Los Angeles is typically going to cost more than one in a rural area due to market forces. Other factors can help you with your negotiation. Almost all states require attorneys to keep fees at a reasonable amount, for example.

Two ways you can possibly lower the rate the attorney charges is by reducing the amount of work required to litigate the case and/or minimizing the attorney's risk.

You can reduce how much work the attorney has to do by doing some of the legal work yourself. For instance, you can obtain a police report of the accident or collect photographic evidence of the accident scene.

The stronger your case, the less risk there is that the attorney will lose and be out the time and effort it took to sue. Therefore, the stronger you can make your case by supplying supporting evidence, the lower the risk and, possibly, the lower the fee charged.

An alternative to negotiating a flat contingency rate is to see if the attorney will stagger the fee. For instance, some lawyers will charge one rate up to a certain dollar amount and a different rate for anything collected above that amount (e.g. 30 percent for the first $100,000 and 20 percent on any amount over that). This option can save you quite a bit of money if you are likely to receive a very large award.

Negotiating Other Costs

While the largest part, the attorney's fee only represent a portion of the costs associated with litigating the case. The attorney may incur addition expenses that you will be responsible for paying. Those expenses may include:

  • Expert witness fees
  • Travel expenses
  • Administrative fees (e.g. phone calls and copies)
  • Court fees
  • Money for the creation of exhibits
  • Fees associated with obtaining evidence

Attorneys who work on a contingency basis will typically subtract these costs from your court award. Whether or not you can negotiate these costs away depends on the circumstances of your case. If your case doesn't require expert witnesses or other high-dollar services, then you may be able to convince the attorney to fold the costs in with his or her contingency fee for an extra 1 or 2 percent.

However, if your case does require expensive services, then the only thing you may be able to negotiate is when those costs get paid. If you pay the costs upfront, you'll get more of your money when you win your case. On the other hand, if you are strapped for cash, then paying the costs when the case concludes may be the best option.

Negotiating the costs of litigating a case can be a little challenging. Contact a local professional, such as Scherline And Associates, for more information.