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How Do Car Accident Attorneys Get Paid?

If you have been injured in a car accident that was caused by another driver’s negligence, you may want to consult with an accident attorney. Not only do you have to deal with injuries and vehicle damage, but the insurance claims process can be frustrating and confusing. This is why many people choose to hire a car accident attorney after an accident.

But before hiring legal representation, you probably want to know – how exactly do car accident lawyers get paid?

Flat Fees

A car accident attorney charges a flat fee for their services. This means you would pay a preset amount upfront, regardless of how much time the attorney spends working on your case or the outcome.

Flat fees tend to range from $1,000 to $5,000 for typical car accident cases. This payment structure provides clarity on costs, but may not be ideal if your case is complex and requires more work than average.

Hourly Rates

Many car accident lawyers bill by the hour, similar to how plumbers, electricians, and other professionals charge. Hourly rates often start at $100/hour and can go up to $500/hour or more depending on factors like the lawyer’s experience and the complexity of your case.

The major downside is the total cost is unpredictable. A case that goes to trial can quickly add up to tens of thousands in legal fees.


In addition to attorney fees, there are case-related costs to factor in. These expenses can include court filing fees, fees for expert witnesses, costs related to gathering evidence, and other disbursements made over the course of litigation.

For contingency fee arrangements, these costs are “fronted” by your lawyer but deducted from your eventual compensation. It’s important to discuss projected expenses when negotiating your fee agreement.

Contingency Fees

The most common payment arrangement is through a contingency fee. This means the car accident attorney only gets paid if they recover financial compensation for you.

The lawyer’s fee is a percentage of your final settlement or court award, typically ranging from 33% to 40%. If your case is dismissed or no money is awarded, you owe nothing for legal services.

Contingency fee agreements must be signed at the start of representation. This contract explains the specific percentage your lawyer will receive if your case is successful. 

The main benefit of contingency is it makes legal help affordable, even if you have limited financial resources. You also know your attorney is motivated to maximize your payout since their fee rises when your settlement does.

How Car Accident Attorneys Get Paid: The Bottom Line

Understanding how car accident attorneys get paid is key when choosing representation. Be sure to discuss payment terms upfront to avoid surprises. Of course, ask questions and stay involved as your lawyer pursues compensation.

The good news for accident victims in New York is that reputable firms like Lipsig, Shapey, Manus & Moverman, P.C. offer contingency fee arrangements. This makes top legal help accessible even if you have limited financial resources after an accident.

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