You’ve probably heard that lawyers can be very expensive to employ. That might be the case in many situations, but not all. If you or a loved one has been in a serious car accident, it’s important to understand how much you might be on the hook for when retaining a lawyer. Will it be a lot? And how are those fees calculated, anyways?
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How Much Does a Car Accident Lawyer Cost in New Mexico?
Many people don’t realize that car accident lawyers are unlike many other lawyers. You may hear talk of retainers and hourly fees that can rise into the hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars—but that’s not how most car accident lawyers operate. Instead of charging you for the services rendered, we instead agree upfront to take a fee equivalent to a portion of the damages awarded to you in the case. This approach, known as “contingency fees,” ensures that there is no upfront or out-of-pocket cost for the injured party from attorney’s fees.
This can be important right after a serious car accident. You may have a totaled vehicle, and be facing tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical expenses. Your loved one may be out of a job, and that lost income can deplete your savings at an astonishing rate. In these situations, it doesn’t make sense for a lawyer to compound your misery by charging an obscene rate.
It also aligns the interests of you and your lawyer. If you’re hiring a lawyer for an automobile accident case, then you probably want to win the case. By making it so that the lawyer only gets paid when you do, you and your lawyer’s interests are aligned behind building the best case possible. That’s why you should be skeptical if a lawyer asks you to pay upfront (or along the way) in a personal injury case. If they want their money now, are they dedicated to ensuring you win your case and get your money at the end of the process?
How Are the Percentages Calculated?
As with many kinds of jobs, the exact amount you would owe depends on the complexity of the job and the nature of the work required. The specific numbers may vary from case to case, and there are reasons they could be outside of the range that we’re about to share with you… but the numbers we are sharing here are useful for starting a conversation with your lawyer. If a case is settled quickly out of court, with minimum research and prep, your lawyer may charge as little as 25% of the total award in fees.
On the other hand, if a case goes all the way to trial, and it is a particularly elaborate case with lots of research and preparation, then the fees may rise to as much as 40% of the total award.
Note that higher percentages sometimes occur because of events outside your direct control. While most auto accident cases are settled before going to trial, some are not. Of those, some will result in victory for the injured party, only for the defendant to appeal the decision and extend the case. In that rare event, handling the appeal and any subsequent legal work will likely result in a larger percentage owed to your lawyer.
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What Other Fees Are There?
While the lawyer’s income in automobile accident cases comes from the award from a winning case, there may be other legal expenses that you could be responsible for. Before you can send a demand letter, you’ll need to collect police reports and medical records. In New Mexico, fees on medical records are limited to $30 for the first 15 pages of a record, plus 25 cents for each additional page. If a record can’t be photocopied, then the actual cost for duplication will be charged. Police reports are generally made available for $1 per page, or less, depending on the station.
If the party who caused the injury agrees to the remedy laid out in the demand letter sent at the beginning of the process, there’s a good chance you’ll owe no additional fees. If the demands are rejected, the next step is to file a lawsuit, which comes with a filing fee charged by the court. The fee depends on the court in which the case is filed, but it generally is less than $150. While the filing of the lawsuit often leads the other party to agree to a settlement, some cases proceed to trial.
Trials come with several additional fees. If you need an expert witness to win your case, you should expect a retainer of around $2,000, with hourly rates ranging from $245 to $500 per hour, depending on the kind of work and whether the expert is medical or non-medical. There can also be a fee for the court reporter that starts at $3.65 per page of transcription. The longer the trial, the higher this cost.
Why You Should Reach Out to Kane Personal Injury
It’s important to remember that, for the vast majority of car accident cases, you’ll owe relatively little or nothing out of pocket, and most of your expenses would be related to filing and court fees. If an attorney wants to be paid upfront run, don’t walk, away! Wanting to be paid upfront is a sign that they’re not confident in your case or they’re not confident in their ability to win the case.
At Kane, we’re here to help you win your case, and receive the compensation you’re owed. That’s why we work for contingency fees—and we don’t get paid unless we win. To learn more about your next steps, contact us for an absolutely free, no obligation consultation today.
Please note that this article was created for advertisement purposes, and it does not constitute any contractual legal relationship, nor imply one.