If you’re just starting your law career, one of the biggest decisions you’ll need to make is what area of law you want to specialize in. Of course, your personal interests will play a significant role in making this decision. But you may also want to know how much lawyers in each practice area tend to make.
Personal injury can be a satisfying area of the law to focus on, but how much does a car accident attorney make? Read on to learn how car accident lawyers make their money and how much you can expect to make in this field in Dallas.
In most cases, car accident attorneys make their money from contingency fees. This means that they get paid a portion of the money that their client gets if they win a settlement.
Although contingency fees can vary based on location and experience, most car accident lawyers collect between 33 and 40 percent of their clients’ settlements.
If an attorney loses a car accident case, their client won’t owe them any contingency fees. However, some contingency fee agreements still require clients to pay for legal fees, including covering their lawyer’s expenses. In this case, the lawyer may charge an hourly fee that will go into effect if they lose the case.
It’s important to note that contingency fees only apply when you’re representing the plaintiff – the person injured in the accident. If you are representing a defendant – someone being sued for damages they caused – there won’t be a settlement even if they win. Defendants will pay using an hourly fee structure.
Varying Contingency Fee Circumstances
There are a few circumstances in which the contingency fee a lawyer charges can change.
For instance, it’s somewhat common for a lawyer to charge a 33 percent contingency fee for a case that gets settled out of court. If the case goes into litigation, that contingency fee will jump to 40 percent.
In some cases, a car accident lawyer may also need to charge a reduced contingency fee. If you can settle the case just by negotiating with an insurance adjuster, with no need for a lawsuit, you may charge a 25 percent fee instead.
Aside from contingency fees, hourly rates are the most common pay structure lawyers use. In this structure, you will charge a client for the time you spend working on their case. No matter whether you win or lose the case, the client is still responsible for paying those fees.
Most lawyers charge between $150 and $500 per hour, depending on their practice area and how much experience they have. On average, personal injury lawyers in Dallas charge around $300 per hour.
There are some circumstances where a car accident lawyer may choose to charge a fixed fee instead of a contingency fee or an hourly rate for their cases. Most of the time, lawyers use fixed fees for specific legal services, rather than broad-scale case representation. For example, you might charge a fixed fee for writing a demand letter to an insurance company.
Average Settlement Amounts in Texas
So, if lawyers make their money based on how much they collect for their clients, what’s the average settlement amount?
The truth is that there is no one average settlement amount. It all depends on what sort of suffering a client experienced and what kind of treatment they had to get.
That being said, the median personal injury settlement in Texas is around $12,000, giving the lawyer on the case a contingency fee of between $4,000 and $4,800. The largest personal injury settlement in Texas history was more than $100 million, however, so ranges can vary drastically.
Overall Average Income
Overall, a car wreck attorney in Texas can expect to make somewhere between $60,000 and $110,000 a year. The median income for this field in Dallas is $85,267, with the top 75th percentile making more than $98,000 per year.
The more experience you have and the better your reputation, the more you can expect to make.
Do You Want to Become a Car Accident Lawyer?
When you get ready to decide on a practice area in your legal career, it’s a good idea to know the average income in that field. Car accident lawyers tend to make their money from contingency fees, but some may charge hourly fees or even offer fixed-rate services. On average, personal injury lawyers in Dallas will make around $85,000 a year and should expect to get around $4,000 in contingency fees per case.