When should I hire a personal injury lawyer?
Personal injury attorneys typically focus on one type of personal injury claim, such as car accident injuries or medical malpractice. They also have experience in tort law, which involves civil litigation to recover financial damages in a settlement. The following are a few scenarios where you might consider hiring a personal injury lawyer to represent you:
- The insurance company refuses to pay for your injuries.
- You've suffered a long-term or permanently disabling injury.
- You've suffered a severe short-term injury that resulted in significant medical costs.
- You suffered an injury or illness as a result of negligence by a doctor, nurse, hospital, or other health care provider. In this case you would hire a medical malpractice attorney.
- You were exposed to a toxic substance as a result of negligent contamination of air, water, or food.
- You've experienced psychological trauma or illness as a result of another's negligence.
- You're being sued by someone claiming negligence on your part.
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.
- Convey the seriousness of your claim to insurers, medical providers, and defendants.
Will your insurance company help with my personal injury case?
Your insurance company won’t provide you with a lawyer or give legal advice regarding your personal injury but they may cover parts of the medical bill if you have been injured. The two of you have very different goals. An insurance company's goal in an accident 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. If you have a case which is specific to insurance, consider hiring an insurance lawyer instead.
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. Do your part to read related articles, talk to your attorney, and learn about the different pricing options that exist. Remember that a local personal injury attorney may have a different price than what you see online.
Top 5 questions to ask a personal injury lawyer
Before you hire a personal injury attorney, you'll want to meet for an initial consultation. Many attorneys will offer this consultation for free, as the meeting helps them decide whether you have a viable case. Here are a few questions you'll want to ask during the consultation:
- Have you handled cases like mine before, and what were the outcomes? Find out if your attorney has dealt with the type of accident or incident that caused your injury. For instance, an attorney who specializes in motorcycle accidents may turn down your case if it should go to a trucking accidents attorney.
- How long would I have to wait before I received a settlement or judgment? A personal injury lawyer should be able to give you a general estimate of how long the process will take.
- Do you bill on a contingent fee basis? Find out how your attorney will charge you and when.
- How many personal injury cases have you taken to trial? Ask whether your attorney and their law firm has practical litigation experience with personal injury claims and what the outcomes of those trials were.
- Do you have past clients who would be willing to speak to me? Talking to past clients is the most reliable way to gauge an attorney's response to concerns or questions. While no one settlement can truly alleviate all discomfort for either party in a personal injury case, an attorney can help you reach the best outcome regardless of who is responsible.