LEGAL GUIDE
Written by Avvo Staff | Aug 20, 2015

Do I need a personal injury lawyer?

Whether or not you need a personal injury lawyer largely depends on whether or not there's a valid personal injury case. Some injuries simply aren’t worth pursuing in court, and some lawsuits have little chance of success. But if a case is valid, a lawyer can offer considerable benefits.

What does a personal injury lawyer do?

A personal injury lawyer provides legal representation to anyone involved in a personal injury claim, whether you’re being sued (defendant) or suing (plaintiff). A lawyer can:

  • Decide if it is in your best interest to pursue a lawsuit.
  • Make sure you receive the maximum damages possible for your case.
  • Negotiate your claim.
  • Tell you the best circumstances under which to accept a settlement.
  • Fill out forms, obtain records, and perform administrative work.
  • File motions on your behalf so you can receive information throughout the trial process.
  • Help your case be taken more seriously by insurers, medical providers, and defendants.

Can you handle a personal injury case on your own?

It depends on your situation. You might be able to handle your case on your own if you:

  • Live in a no-fault state that doesn’t allow you to sue unless your injuries and damages go above a certain level.
  • Were offered the maximum amount from insurance policies.

In a small, uncomplicated personal injury case, you may not need a personal injury lawyer either. A quick consultation with a lawyer can often help you find out if your case falls into this category.

However, you may still want to consult with a lawyer even if you have a minor injury. Some smaller injuries may become more serious over time. Consulting with a lawyer can help you receive appropriate compensation for your injury if it worsens in the future.

Will your insurance company help with your personal injury case?

Your insurance company won’t provide you with a lawyer or give legal advice regarding your personal injury. The two of you have very different goals. An insurance company's goal is to pay out as little as possible if you’re involved in a personal injury, and your goal is to get as much of your injury and damage costs covered.

How can you find a personal injury lawyer?

A common question people have is how to find a personal injury lawyer for their case. Often, however, the real question is how to find the right personal injury lawyer. There’s a few things you can do to help make sure you get the right lawyer for your case.

First, make sure that they focus on personal injury law. A lawyer who regularly handles personal injury cases is much more likely to know the ins and outs of the process.

Second, look at what your lawyer’s past clients have said. Look at reviews of that lawyer, and ask the lawyer if you can get references from their past clients.

Lastly, ask them how many cases they’re currently handling, and how easily you’ll be able to contact them.

How are personal injury lawyers paid?

Most personal injury lawyers take cases on contingency. This means that instead of charging a fee directly, the attorney takes a portion of the damages received from a successful case. That portion will usually be about 33% of the total settlement money.

However, the percentage a lawyer charges will often depend on how complex the case is. Lawyers will often require higher percentages as a case goes further through the court system. The final percentage may end up being as high as 60% in especially challenging cases.

In the event that you win your case, the settlement check is typically sent to your lawyer. Your lawyer will deduct their fee, and then send the remaining amount to you.

How much does a personal injury lawyer cost?

The cost of a personal injury lawyer depends on many factors, including your state and the kind of case you have. However, the biggest factor is how long it takes to resolve your case. There are 3 general stages at which a personal injury lawsuit can be resolved:

  • Settlement before a case goes to trial
  • Settlement during a trial
  • Settlement determined by trial

The further along in the process you go, the more likely it is that you’ll pay your lawyer more. This is because each stage in the process requires more work on the part of your lawyer.

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