Note: Information contained in this blog is for the state of Victoria, Australia.

How much does a car accident lawyer cost?

Stacks of hundred dollar notes

When you’ve been injured in a car accident, finances can be tight. Even though the TAC should be covering your medical expenses and your Loss of Earnings (find out more here), there are lots of costs the TAC cannot cover, like the damage to your car or other property, lost earning opportunities outside your usual work, and the greater home costs (such as electricity and heating) that come from spending more time at home during your recovery.

Luckily, the one thing you won’t have to spend money on is a lawyer. Almost all personal injury lawyers in Victoria (including me - Scott Millington) work on a no-win no-fee basis. This means I won’t charge you until I am successful in your claim for compensation.

Though almost all car accident injury law firms work no-win no-fee, there are still important differences between them and the way that they charge that you should consider before signing up with a lawyer.

Does the lawyer charge you a flat rate, or do they only charge for the work they do?

I often get asked whether I charge on a commission basis –that means charging a percentage of whatever compensation you get. This is currently illegal in Victoria – so no, I do not, and no other law firms do.

Instead, law firms will usually set their fees in one of two ways. They will charge on a “work done” basis, which means the more work they do, the more they are entitled to charge. Or they will charge on a “flat fee” basis, which means they charge you a set fee, no matter how much work they do, or how much money you receive. Sometimes, there will be different flat fees depending on how complex your case is.

Work done” agreements generally have the benefit of being fairer – you only get charged for what your lawyers are actually doing for you.

Flat fee” agreements generally have the benefit of being clearer – you know in advance exactly what you’ll be charged.

At Millington Legal, I offer the best of both worlds. I charge on a work-done basis, but provide you with an estimate in your agreement, so you have clarity as to what fees to expect. As long as your case resolves without the need for court proceedings (which the vast majority do), I guarantee that I will not charge you more than the estimate. This way, you only get charged for what’s fair, but also have the certainty of knowing the most you'll be paying at the end of the day.


Does the law firm make you pay for disbursements?

When you run a car accident injury claim, the lawyer is not the only one who needs to be paid. Doctors need to be paid for their medical reports, Victoria Police might need to be paid for reports on how the accident occurred, and sometimes, expensive independent investigators will need to be hired. The costs of these services are called “disbursements,” and different law firms deal with them in different ways.

The three most common ways that law firms will handle disbursements are:

  1. Requiring the client to pay for them. Even though the law-firm might advertise as no-win no-fee, some law firms will still ask their clients to pay out of pocket for these costs.
  2. Requiring the client to take out a disbursement funding loan. Some law firms have arrangements with loan providers, who will agree to pay for your disbursements during your claim, as long as you pay them back eventually. Some of these loans are no-win no-fee – but some aren’t, so be careful! Whether or not it’s no-win no-fee, these loans are usually expensive, with high interest rates or other fees.
  3. Paying for the disbursements themselves, no-win no-fee. Some law firms, including Millington Legal, pay for your disbursements during the life of your claim. If your claim is successful, then these disbursements will form part of the fees you pay your lawyer when you win. If you’re not successful, you never have to pay these back. 

Will I end up out of pocket, or spending most of my compensation on my lawyers?

While law firms can be expensive, your rights are protected by law. No matter what agreement you sign, lawyers can only charge you what is fair and reasonable in the circumstances – that’s the law. Different lawyers have different opinions about what fair and reasonable means, but at Millington Legal, I believe my clients should always be walking away happy with the majority of their compensation, not spending all of the compensation for their injuries on legal fees.

If you would like to receive an estimate of legal costs in your specific matter, I recommend you book in for a free consultation using the button below.

Book in a free consultation today
Scott Millington portrait photo

Scott Millington, the principal lawyer at Millington Legal, is a highly experienced personal injury lawyer who specializes in helping clients who have been injured in transport accidents. With a decade of experience in the field, Scott is committed to providing expert legal representation and support throughout the claims process to help his clients get the compensation they deserve.

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