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How much will I keep from my accident settlement?

If you have been injured from the negligent actions of another person and you have filed an injury claim you may receive compensation or payment from either the defendant or the defendant's insurance company. Recently on our injury blog a user asked, "If I win my accident lawsuit how much of the settlement amount will I keep?"

Personal injury lawyers will charge a contingency fee to help you with your injury case. The good news is this means you will not have to pay any up-front fees to get help with your case; the bad news is if you win your case they will take a percentage of your award payment.

Although some states may limit the amount a personal injury lawyer can charge you to help you with your case, if you win your case you may have to pay 33 to 40% of your award for legal fees. For example, if you are injured in a car accident and the defendant's car insurance company offers you $30,000, if the lawyer charged 33% you would receive $20,000 and your lawyer would receive $10,000. If this seems too high for you, you can always try to negotiate a reduced fee for their legal services, but whether or not your lawyer will take less money is anyone's guess.

Some states will also reduce the amount a lawyer can charge if the case is settled before a lawsuit was filed or a formal complaint was made in court. So in some states you may pay 33% or less if you can settle your case early. If a lawsuit is filed and argued in court, however, the lawyer may have the right to charge more.

How much will I get if I do not hire a lawyer?

Some plaintiffs decide to work directly with the insurance company to negotiate a settlement offer for their injuries, especially if they suffered minor or non-permanent injuries. If you did not hire a lawyer you will receive the full amount of the compensation award and will not have to pay any attorney's fees.

The only consideration if you make this decision, however, is to decide if the amount you can negotiate for yourself would be higher than what the lawyer could win for you, less their fees. Sometimes the lawyer is so much better at negotiations that you would still receive more money even after paying them for their legal help.

Other factors for calculating the award settlement offer

Another factor which could reduce your settlement award is if the court decides you contributed to your own injuries. In fact, in some states if you contributed to your injuries in any you may not be awarded any compensation.

Other states, however, may simply reduce your payment offer by the amount you are responsible; while other states may award you the full amount if you are less than 51% or 50% at fault for your own injuries.

The bottom line is calculating an award payment can be complicated. Talk to your lawyer if you have more questions.

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