In many situations that leave you in need of legal counsel, including in the aftermath of serious injuries, you may also find yourself in financial difficulty. After a serious injury, you have medical bills that you have to deal with. You may have to miss work or have your income decreased as you wrestle with the aftermath of your injuries.
You know that legal help could help smooth out the process, but you may also find yourself wondering just how much more that will cost and how you will manage to fit it into your budget.
How much does it cost to talk to a lawyer?
Luckily, talking to a lawyer does not have to cost as much as you may fear. In many cases, you can minimize your legal costs and maximize the benefits, which can make it easier for you to deal with the financial challenges that may accompany your other costs.
Start With a Free Consultation
Some lawyers, including most personal injury lawyers, will start with a free consultation. That initial consultation offers many benefits when you have a personal injury claim to deal with.
A free consultation can give you a better idea of how much compensation you should expect for your injuries.
Sometimes, when you contact a lawyer, you may already have a settlement offer from the insurance company in hand. You may feel a little uneasy about just accepting the settlement offer, especially if you have already started to see your medical bills roll in and have a reasonable idea of how much it might cost to deal with the medical aspect of your injuries. You may wonder whether that offer will reflect your needs, especially if you will need occupational therapy, considerable physical therapy, or long-term care for your injuries.
Other times, you might not have an offer at all, but you might know that the liable party’s insurance company will likely issue an offer soon. You might want to have a reasonable idea of what you should expect from your personal injury claim before you start to move forward or before you have to deal with the insurance company at all. Knowing the true value of your claim, including what your real costs will look like, can make it easier to negotiate from a position of power.
A free consultation can help you learn more about your next steps.
To many accident victims, a personal injury claim may feel entirely foreign. You may have questions about whether you even have the right to file a personal injury claim, much less how much compensation you should expect or what that process might look like. Should you contact the liable party’s insurance company? What does the claim process look like? How long can you expect it to take?
During a free consultation with a lawyer, you can go over all those details and get a better idea of what your claim will look like. Each personal injury claim looks a little different. A lawyer, however, can give you more information about your next steps, whether you need to file a car insurance claim or file a premises liability claim. Furthermore, a lawyer can offer vital advice about how to manage your medical care in the aftermath of serious injuries to maximize your compensation later.
During your free consultation, you can learn more about how to protect your right to compensation.
Frequently, personal injury victims make errors that can limit the compensation they ultimately recover for the severe injuries sustained in an accident, often without even realizing that they have done something that could interfere with their claim.
An attorney can help guide you through the entire claim process and give you a better idea of how to maximize your compensation, not just through the claim itself, but also as you deal with the insurance company or even manage your daily life.
An experienced attorney can, during your free consultation, give you advice about how to:
- Handle social media posts about your accident and your injuries. (Hint: it might prove best to avoid posting about your accident at all until the claim has concluded.)
- Handle any communications with the insurance company, including allowing the majority of those communications to go through your lawyer.
- Manage the questions the insurance company might ask.
- Take care of payment for your medical treatment while waiting for your personal injury claim
Lawyers also frequently have access to many of the other resources that can help you in the aftermath of a serious accident, including resources that can make it easier to pay your bills. Does your hospital offer a program that will allow you to reduce your balance based on your income? Does your local area offer free resources that can help you manage any new limitations caused by your injuries? A personal injury lawyer can help link you to those resources.
Contingency Fees and Personal Injury Claims
Most legal proceedings involve substantial fees: fees to file with the court and to pay your lawyer, among others. Personal injury claims, however, differ somewhat from many other legal proceedings because the goal of a personal injury claim includes getting you the best possible payout for your injuries and the other damages you may have sustained due to your accident.
As a result, many personal injury lawyers will choose to take their cases on a contingency fee basis. A contingency fee basis means that, instead of paying upfront for legal services, you can pay your lawyer out of a percentage of your personal injury claim, usually a percentage that you agree on ahead of time.
How does a contingency fee work?
A contingency fee arrangement usually means that the lawyer will not take payment upfront for any legal services provided throughout your case. Generally, a lawyer will not accept a case on a contingency fee basis until he or she feels that the plaintiff stands a good chance at winning—and in many cases, a chance of recovering substantial compensation.
The lawyer will set out a percentage of the compensation that he or she will collect as a fee after the case. Once you have won your case, either through a settlement agreement or court award, the lawyer will take out the agreed-upon fee. You will then receive the rest of your check, minus any liens placed on it.
(Your medical care provider may have the right to place a lien on your settlement that will ensure that the medical provider gets paid out of that settlement amount.)
In many cases, if your lawyer does not win, you will not owe anything for your legal services. In other cases, the lawyer may set out a specific fee that you will owe for any services received, even if you do not win. Make sure you carefully read your legal services agreement to ensure that you know what you will have to pay.
What legal services do lawyers include as part of a contingency fee claim?
Generally, lawyers will include all the services related to your case as part of a contingency fee. In some cases, however, you may need to pay filing fees or other costs separately, especially if your claim has to go to court. Your lawyer will lay out the legal fees you will have to pay ahead of time to give you a better idea of how much you will need to spend so that you can plan your finances accordingly.
What Does It Cost to Manage Your Claim Alone?
While many people worry about the cost of hiring an attorney, they may not fully consider the cost of failing to hire an attorney to manage a personal injury claim. Often, failure to hire an attorney can cost more than you anticipate. Trying to handle your claim alone could end up costing a lot.
Without a lawyer, you may end up accepting a settlement offer that doesn’t cover the full cost of your injuries.
Many times, personal injury victims assume that the insurance company will provide them with a fair offer. Insurance, they assume, exists to help people receive compensation for accidents beyond their control, keeping them financially stable even in difficult times. Unfortunately, insurance companies also exist to make money, which means that they may not provide fair compensation offers to victims who have sustained severe injuries and incurred significant costs.
In many cases, insurance companies will start with a very low settlement offer: one that reflects only a small percentage of the bills you can expect to receive for your injuries. If you suffer spinal cord injuries in your accident, for example, the cost of medical care can rise to over $1 million in the first year alone.
Even broken bones can cost thousands of dollars to treat, especially if you require surgical treatment or extensive physical therapy. Since most people do not know the full cost associated with those types of injuries and healthcare costs, however, they often accept the early settlement offers issued by insurance companies.
Even if you try to negotiate with the insurance company on your own, it can prove very difficult to prove how much compensation you will need and convince the insurance company to offer it promptly. A lawyer, on the other hand, can help increase the compensation offered. Some insurance companies will even offer more compensation once they realize that you have a lawyer on your side.
A lawyer can help collect vital evidence related to your claim, making it easier to establish liability for the accident.
Following some types of accidents, your lawyer may discover that more than one party bears liability for the accident and, therefore, for your injuries. Sometimes, a lawyer may uncover liability on the part of an entity with a higher-value insurance policy or an additional entity that shares liability for your accident.
If you can identify multiple liable parties, you have the right to file a personal injury claim against each one. Many victims find that filing more than one claim can make it easier to maximize the compensation they can recover for their injuries and alleviate some of the financial strain they may face.
An attorney can also help collect vital evidence that can help establish that the other party caused your accident. Sometimes, insurance companies may try to reduce the compensation you receive because they may claim that you contributed to at least part of the accident. Many states have comparative liability laws that will lower the compensation you can recover by the percentage of liability you bear for the incident.
A lawyer, however, can help collect evidence that proves your injuries. A personal injury lawyer can also help put together a compelling claim that establishes why you qualify for compensation to cover the full cost of your injuries, including why the other party should bear full liability.
A lawyer can help reduce your stress as you manage your personal injury claim.
Dealing with the aftermath of a personal injury claim can prove incredibly difficult and stressful. That stress can slow your recovery or make it difficult for you to manage other aspects of your life. Your mental and emotional state can quickly take a toll on your physical recovery, your energy levels, and your overall mental and emotional health.
By working with a lawyer, you can alleviate much of the stress that comes from dealing with the insurance company as you manage your injury and recovery. Many people find that having an attorney on their side makes them much more confident about the overall outcome of a claim and reduces their stress levels.
Do You Need to Talk to a Personal Injury Lawyer?
Yes. If you suffered serious injuries due to someone else’s negligence, do not wait to talk to a lawyer. An initial consultation with a personal injury attorney will cost you nothing, but it may offer a great deal of increased compensation and peace of mind. Contact an attorney as soon after your accident as possible to learn more about your rights.