“After your accident, contact a lawyer to learn more about the compensation you may deserve.” “Call us for the legal help you need to pursue compensation through a personal injury claim.” “Contact an attorney today.” You may have seen countless advertisements urging you to get in touch with a lawyer as soon after a serious accident as possible. A lawyer, those ads proclaim, offers your best chance of recovering the compensation you really deserve after an accident.
Many accident victims—worried about how they will handle their normal bills, let alone the new medical bills to treat their accident injuries—may want to first know how much an attorney costs and whether they can afford to hire one. This piece lays out the costs of hiring an attorney in plain terms and also explains why it is ultimately in your best interests to hire a personal injury lawyer.
Starting With a Free Consultation
During the consultation, the lawyer can provide you with basic legal advice, gauge your chances of securing compensation and how much you could stand to recover, and share information about what steps you need to take next to move forward with your claim as efficiently as possible. A free consultation serves as a vital first step in the claim process.
You should get in touch with a personal injury lawyer as soon after your accident as possible for your free consultation so that you can make an informed decision about how to handle your claim.
For more information about your next steps review our article about what you should do after an accident.
Contingency Fee Claims
The vast majority of personal injury attorneys take claims on a contingency fee basis. For victims of serious accidents that result in expensive medical bills and other costs, this fee arrangement means not having to worry about paying legal fees upfront. If you retain the attorney, any services they provide—from starting initial interactions and negotiations with insurance companies to representing you in court—your attorney will not collect fees unless and until they secure a positive outcome on your behalf.
Instead of paying upfront or as you go along, you agree to pay the attorney a certain percentage of the settlement or court award you ultimately receive for your injuries in compensation. Contingency fee claims make legal services affordable and accessible to the victims of serious accidents, regardless of their previous financial status.
You may have a lot of financial worries immediately after your accident, especially if you sustained serious injuries, from multiple broken bones to spinal cord injury, that require substantial medical treatment.
The contingency fee arrangement ensures you are not deterred from exercising your right to retain a legal representative based on concerns about being able to take on any further expenses after an accident.
How Much Does Hiring an Attorney Benefit Your Claim?
An accident victim might be concerned about the percentage an attorney will pull from their ultimate award to cover legal fees. Why not just handle the claim alone, and keep the whole of a settlement or court award?
A victim may fear that working with an attorney will ultimately mean they receive less compensation for their injuries, which may inhibit their ability to pay medical bills or take care of expenses related to the accident. While valid concerns, it turns out that a victim who hires an attorney is almost always better off in every way.
Do you know how much compensation you can demand? The damages assigned to personal injury claims generally break down into two key categories: special damages and general damages. Special damages include losses that have an objective financial cost, such as your medical bills, lost wages, or damage to personal property.
General damages, on the other hand, include losses that are not immediately quantifiable, such as the pain or emotional anguish you suffered as a result of your accident. Many accident victims do not realize the full extent of the financial compensation they deserve for the losses they sustained in an accident. As a result, insurance companies can take advantage of them by getting them to settle for less than they deserve.
In fact, insurance companies often reach out quickly after accidents to victims with low settlement offers that fall woefully short of the compensation the victim deserves. They may even pressure the victim to accept the offer quickly, rather than taking the time to carefully consider whether the offer is enough to cover all the losses the victim has experienced.
An attorney can break down the compensation an accident victim really deserves and give a better idea of when to accept a settlement offer and when to push for more.
An attorney can help collect the evidence needed to establish both your right to compensation and how much compensation you deserve.
To bring a successful personal injury claim, your attorney will need to clearly establish:
- Who caused your accident
- How that party caused your accident
- What damages, including financial losses, you sustained as a result of the accident
Establishing these elements requires evidence. An attorney can help collect that evidence: photographs, video footage, and eyewitness or an expert witness testimony might show how the accident took place; as evidence of how the accident occurred is collected, new potentially liable parties may be revealed; as you recover from your injuries, your attorney will work with you to keep track of medical records and other important evidence to establish a connection between the accident and your losses.
An attorney can preserve the evidence you need by collecting it quickly. For example, witness memories may fade or become less reliable soon after the accident, particularly if the event proved particularly traumatic for that witness. An attorney can get to work on your case while you are recovering from your injuries, making sure that you have witness testimony recorded in an admissible way before witnesses forget the incident or become unavailable.
An experienced personal injury attorney will know what evidence is necessary to prove the full extent of your losses related to the accident. You may have immense financial strain resulting from the accident and your injuries. Suppose, for example, that you sustained a traumatic brain injury in the accident. Your injuries may require substantial medical observation and work with an occupational therapist, which alone can rack up hefty medical bills.
On top of that, you might not have the ability to go back to work for weeks, months, or even longer after the accident, and thus may have no way to pay for your medical bills. Many victims of even minor traumatic brain injury find that symptoms linger more than a year after the accident, often in ways that impair their ability to perform their normal work.
An attorney can piece together all of these accident-related costs and establish the evidence the liable party’s insurance company will demand for every dollar they pay out.
An attorney can deal with the tactics the insurance company may use to try to limit the compensation it has to pay out for your injuries.
- Delay action on your claim, sometimes longer than necessary. By dragging out the claim process, insurance companies aim to convince you to accept a settlement offer sooner, without pressing for the compensation you deserve.
- Claim that you caused or contributed to the accident to reduce the compensation you can ultimately recover for your injuries or even prevent you from collecting any compensation.
- Attempt to deny coverage for certain aspects of your recovery, including treatments that the company may deem optional.
- Claim that your injuries did not cause the permanent limitations and challenges you suffered, which might reduce the compensation you could recover.
An experienced personal injury attorney knows the tactics insurance companies deploy to try to deny or minimize claims and can help you get past those and toward maximizing the compensation you can recover. An attorney to handle the insurance company not only increases your chances of recovering maximum compensation sooner but also makes the process less frustrating and stressful.
Many types of accidents may involve more than one liable party. Suppose, for example, that you suffer injuries in an accident with a commercial truck driver. The driver fell asleep behind the wheel, and evidence clearly shows that the driver’s failure to get enough rest contributed to the accident.
However, your attorney may investigate the accident more deeply and find that the trucking company’s policies pushed drivers to exceed the maximum number of driving hours for one shift by federal law, and that the trucking company pushed the driver to get behind the wheel and continue driving despite the driver’s weariness. In such a case, the trucking company may share liability for the accident.
If your attorney can uncover multiple parties that may share liability for your accident, the pool of potential resources to provide compensation for your injuries increases dramatically. Insurance policies have specific limits that dictate how much the insurance company will ultimately pay out to victims of their insured.
If you can identify more than one party that shares liability for the accident, it may increase those limits, since you will have the potential to recover compensation from each liable party. While a truck driver’s personal insurance policy might not cover your losses, the driver’s employer’s insurance coverage might.
Simply working with an attorney can, in many cases, move the insurance company to make a better settlement offer.
When you have to contend with a serious personal injury claim, the insurance company may resist coming to the table to discuss a fair settlement. But when you have an attorney to handle your claim, the insurance company might wake up, since you have someone at your side with experience in personal injury claims and who knows how to deal with insurance companies. Sometimes, just showing up with an attorney can help the insurance company take you more seriously, which may increase the odds that the insurance company will issue a reasonable settlement offer or move your claim through the system faster.
Do Not Wait to Contact a Personal Injury Lawyer
If you suffered serious injuries due to someone else’s negligence, do not wait to get in touch with a personal injury lawyer. The sooner you contact an attorney, the sooner they can begin working on your behalf, providing you with critical legal advice and information about your legal right to pursue compensation.
If you have concerns about the potential cost of hiring a personal lawyer, start with a free consultation from a reputable, experienced firm to get an idea of whether hiring a legal representative is right in your case.
Speak with an experienced personal injury lawyer today about your claim process at one of our office locations.