How Much Does a Personal Injury Lawyer Cost?

So, you were in an accident that was not your fault. Now you have a bunch of medical bills to deal with, maybe you can’t work, and you have expenses piling up. It’s a lot to handle, and perhaps you think hiring a personal injury lawyer might help.

But the thought of legal fees can be pretty scary. Money is already tight, and the last thing you need is another bill to worry about.

What you may not know is that personal injury lawyers typically employ a payment system that enables anyone to hire them, no matter how much money they have on hand. They understand you already have enough of a burden as it is and want to lift that weight off your shoulders, not add to it.

Here’s more about what it costs to have a lawyer in your corner and how they make sure you can afford their help when you need it the most.

No Fees Unless You Win

Contingency Basis - No Fees Unless You Win

While there are some rare exceptions, most personal injury attorneys work on a contingency basis. What does that mean? It means you don’t have to pay any money upfront, and you don’t owe your attorney any legal fees unless they obtain compensation for you.

Once your case concludes and you receive your insurance settlement or award from a lawsuit, a portion of whatever compensation you recover goes to pay your attorney’s fees. The specific percentage varies among attorneys, so be sure to ask what your attorney charges before hiring them.

Advantages of a Contingency Fee Arrangement

The contingency arrangement offers many benefits to clients with personal injury claims.

First of all, the contingency fee arrangement encourages your attorney to maximize the value of your claim because their compensation directly relates to whatever you recover. This means your lawyer will aggressively pursue full and fair compensation on your behalf.

Second, having your attorney work on contingency means you can afford high-quality legal representation without significant financial risk. You deserve an experienced and dedicated advocate in your corner, regardless of your available financial resources.

By shifting the cost of hiring an attorney to the end of your claim, you can engage an advocate who will forcefully protect your rights.

Finally, the contingency fee arrangement means you don’t have to worry about how much time your lawyer spends on your case.

Since you’re not paying your lawyer by the hour, you can relax and focus on treating your injuries without stressing about how many hours they’re working. It’s a way to lessen your burden after a traumatic experience.

What a Personal Injury Attorney Can Do for You

The first thing your personal injury attorney will do is dig into the details of your accident. They’re like detectives, gathering evidence, talking to witnesses, and collecting all the facts that show what happened and why you should receive compensation.

Next, they deal with the paperwork and the folks on the other side. This means you don’t have to talk to insurance companies or anyone else trying to settle your claim. Your attorney handles all the calls, the forms, and the back-and-forth chatter.

Then there’s the money talk. Your attorney figures out how much your claim is really worth. They count everything – your doctor’s bills, the work you missed, even your pain and suffering. They comb through every aspect of your claim, accounting for every dollar of your financial expenses and other intangible losses.

Last, your lawyer is your voice in court. If your case goes to trial, your attorney stands up in front of the judge and jury, tells your story, and fights for your rights.

With a personal injury attorney by your side, you can focus on getting better while they handle the heavy lifting of your claim. You’ve got an ally in your corner every step of the way.

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Risks of Not Hiring a Personal Injury Lawyer

What could happen if you decide not to hire a personal injury attorney? For starters, you might not get all the money you’re entitled to. Insurance companies are tough negotiators interested in paying as little for your injuries as possible.

Without a lawyer, you might not know if their settlement offer is fair.

Then there’s the maze of legal rules. It’s easy to be unaware of or miss important deadlines. One wrong turn or missed deadline, and your claim might go up in smoke.

In addition, doing all the legal work of a personal injury claim is not easy. There’s a pile of paperwork, strict rules on what to file, when, and where, and a bunch of legal terms that might seem like they’re in another language. A mistake at any step of the process could derail your case.

And if your case goes to trial, you’ll need to know how to act, what to say, and when to say it. Lawyers have an understanding of what it takes to persuade a judge or jury. Most lay people don’t.

Dealing with a claim is a heavy load to carry, especially when you have severe injuries. Without a lawyer, that weight is all on your shoulders. That’s a heavy burden at a time when you should focus on getting better.

So, while no one says you must hire a lawyer, not having one will make your case harder for you.

When Is the Best Time to Hire a Personal Injury Lawyer?

Best Time to Hire a Personal Injury Lawyer

Contact a personal injury lawyer immediately after an accident. For one thing, you want to give your attorney as much time as possible to research and build your case. You have a limited window to take legal action after an accident, so allow your lawyer as much time as you can to work on your behalf.

Second, critical evidence from the accident scene can deteriorate or disappear within hours or days. This evidence often plays a starring role in a personal injury claim, and a lawyer knows how to find and preserve it.

Finally, hiring a lawyer immediately after an accident can help you get your money faster. If you have medical bills piling up and miss work for a while, the compensation from a personal injury claim is the financial lifeline you need.

The sooner your attorney can begin negotiations with the other party and their insurer, the faster your case will conclude, shortening the time before you receive your compensation.

What to Ask a Personal Injury Lawyer Before Hiring Them

Before you select a personal injury lawyer to represent you, you want the right person for the job.

These questions can help you find a lawyer who knows their stuff:

  • “Have you taken on cases like mine before?” You want to know if they have experience with accidents or injuries like yours.
  • “What do you think my case is worth?” While you don’t want empty promises, you want their honest opinion on what you might expect.
  • “How do you get paid?” This is a big one. Remember, most personal injury lawyers work on a contingency basis, but you still want all the details.
  • “Will I have to pay anything if we don’t win?” This question is about making sure there are no surprises. You need to know if you’ll owe them court costs or other expenses if the case doesn’t go your way.
  • How long do you think my case will take?” Time is precious, and while they can’t give you an exact date, they can give you a rough timeline so you know what to expect.
  • “Who will I be talking to about my case?” Sometimes, the person you talk to isn’t the one who will handle your case day-to-day. You want to know who your go-to person is for questions and updates.

Common Accidents Personal Injury Attorneys Handle

Some personal injury lawyers focus on particular types of accidents, while others take a broader range of cases. Before hiring an attorney, ask how much experience they have with cases like yours.

Common types of accidents personal injury lawyers take include:

  • Car Accidents: Lawyers can step in to help victims of road crashes recover compensation for their injuries and financial losses.
  • Slip and Fall Accidents: These cases occur when someone takes a tumble on someone else’s property due to unsafe conditions, like wet floors or broken steps.
  • Workplace Injuries: When people get hurt on the job, whether it’s from a fall, machinery, or just repetitive tasks, lawyers help them with workers’ compensation or legal claims.
  • Medical Malpractice: Attorneys often help people who have sustained injuries due to mistakes by doctors, hospitals, or other healthcare providers. Common medical errors that lead to these cases include things like incorrect diagnoses or botched surgeries.
  • Product Liability: If a defective product causes someone’s injuries, lawyers can hold the manufacturers accountable. Faulty appliances and dangerous prescription drugs are two common types of product liability cases.
  • Dog Bites: Victims of dog attacks can receive help from lawyers to recover compensation from the owner.
  • Bicycle Accidents: Cyclists injured by vehicles or due to poor road conditions often need legal help to obtain money to cover their medical expenses and other losses.
  • Pedestrian Accidents: Lawyers can help advocate for pedestrians hit by vehicles, holding the at-fault party responsible for their injuries and any long-term effects of the collision.
  • Motorcycle Accidents: Motorcyclists are particularly vulnerable on the road, and attorneys can assist them in seeking fair treatment and compensation after accidents.
  • Trucking Accidents: Due to their size and weight, truck accidents can be devastating, and an attorney can untangle the complex liability issues involved.
  • Wrongful Death: When an accident leads to a fatality, attorneys help the deceased’s family pursue compensation for their devastating loss.

Deadline to File a Personal Injury Lawsuit

One thing to remember about your personal injury claim is that you have a limited window to file a lawsuit after an accident. Each state has a law called a statute of limitations that defines this window.

Some states give you three or four years to file a lawsuit, while others say you must file a suit within one or two years of the date of the accident.

Three or four years seems like a long time, and one or two years seems sufficient to build a strong case. However, it is in your interest to hire an attorney as soon as possible. That way, they can act to preserve essential evidence and build your case without worrying about an imminent deadline.

What Happens After You Hire a Personal Injury Attorney

Tatiana Boohoff - Attorney for Personal Injury
Tatiana Boohoff, Personal Injury Lawyer

Once you’ve hired an attorney, here are the basic steps in the timeline of a personal injury claim:

  • Case Evaluation: Your lawyer reviews all the facts, evidence, and your account of the incident to understand the strength of your claim.
  • Treatment and Documentation: You continue medical treatment for your injuries while your attorney collects medical records and bills to document the extent of your harm.
  • Investigation: Your attorney digs deeper, gathering additional evidence and sometimes hiring experts to bolster your case.
  • Demand Letter: Once your condition stabilizes, your lawyer sends a demand letter to the insurance company outlining your case and how much compensation is appropriate for your claim.
  • Negotiation: Your lawyer discusses a potential settlement with the insurer, exchanging demands and counteroffers to reach a fair deal.
  • Settlement: If your lawyer and the insurance company come to terms, you will receive a settlement for your injuries and other losses.
  • Filing a Lawsuit: If negotiations don’t lead to a settlement, your attorney files a lawsuit in court before the statute of limitations expires.
  • Discovery Phase: Both sides exchange information through requests for documents, interrogatories, and depositions.
  • Mediation and Negotiation: Before trial, there’s often another chance for a negotiated settlement through mediation, where a neutral third party helps both sides reach an agreement.
  • Trial Preparation: Your lawyer prepares the case for trial, developing strategies, lining up witnesses, and planning arguments.
  • Trial: Your attorney presents your case to a judge or jury who will decide the outcome.
  • Verdict and Collection: If you win at trial, your attorney will collect the awarded amount. If the judge or jury decides against you, your lawyer can discuss potential appeals.
December 19, 2023
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