When you are involved in a car accident, the last thing on your mind is probably hiring a lawyer. You may be so focused on healing that you want to cooperate with the insurance company as much as possible. Unfortunately, the insurance company does not have your best interest at heart. Even though insurance companies have the finances to cover your compensation, they will do everything possible to avoid paying out claims. Having a lawyer on your side can increase your chances of ensuring you receive the compensation you deserve.
But can you afford to hire a lawyer with all the losses you already face from your car accident? The potential cost of a lawyer deters many injury victims from even seeking a consultation, which can severely hurt their cases. The good news is that any injury victim can afford a car accident attorney because of how fee arrangements work in car accident cases.
Can You afford a car accident attorney?
Some people think they cannot afford to pay a lawyer. While some lawyers bill hourly, car accident lawyers do not.
Car accident lawyers know that injury victims have limited resources and many struggles ahead. Thus, you do not need to pay attorneys' fees until you reach a verdict or settlement in your car accident case. This allows you to take legal action without coming up with large sums of money first.
Bringing a car accident claim costs money. Lawyers are responsible for legal expenses, including court fees, filing fees, discovery costs, expert witness costs, and expenses for evidence. It costs hundreds of dollars even to file your claim. Any copies of public documents that your lawyer wants to use to provide as evidence in your case can also add up to hundreds of dollars. When it comes to the discovery phase of your case and reaching out to expert witnesses, the deposition process and the payment that expert witnesses charge can quickly add up to thousands of dollars.
However, car accident law firms have the resources to front these costs, taking the responsibility out of your hands. You will discuss how you might repay these costs later in your settlement before you decide to hire a lawyer.
Most car accident lawyers use the contingency fee arrangement. If you meet with an attorney that charges a retainer or hourly fees for a car crash case, you should likely keep looking for the right fit.
When a lawyer operates on a contingency fee basis, they do not receive payment for their legal services until they obtain a successful verdict or a settlement for their client. That means the lawyer only gets fees if you receive compensation for your car accident case. If you do not receive compensation, you will not be responsible for paying legal fees (though you might need to pay certain costs).
When you receive compensation, your lawyer will take a pre-arranged percentage of the compensation first.
Contingency fee benefits
You may think that lawyers who offer a contingency fee have much to lose if the car accident case is unsuccessful. Fortunately, that is one of the benefits of contingency fee arrangements. Because your lawyer can only get fees if your car accident case is successful, your lawyer will go above and beyond to ensure that you receive the compensation you need from your car accident claim. You can also rest assured that you have a great chance of receiving your compensation because a lawyer will not waste their time pursuing a claim they do not see themselves winning.
Contingency fee discounts
One type of fee structure you want to avoid is a contingency fee discount. This type of method is similar to a contingency fee arrangement. However, lawyers will offer a discounted rate on their attorney fees to coerce a client into hiring them. When a lawyer offers you a contingency fee discount, that is often a red flag for several reasons. One of the reasons is that that can be a sign that the lawyer or the law firm focuses on settlements.
While that in itself is not an issue, it is a sign that the lawyer resolves cases as soon as possible without considering what is in the best interests of each client. The lawyer can produce subpar work on your case to avoid a trial at all costs and accept the first offer by the insurance company.
When a lawyer or a law firm offers a contingency fee discount, that can signify that the law firm is a so-called “settlement mill.” A settlement mill is a law firm that settles personal injury cases at a high volume and uses aggressive advertising techniques to seek clients. Instead of being selective about the cases they accept, these law firms often accept any case that comes their way.
These law firms treat their clients as another number because that is what they are. As a result, they do not investigate their clients’ claims and opt for low settlement offers instead of fighting on their client’s behalf. If a lawyer promises to resolve your claim within eight months or less, the lawyer operates at a settlement mill. Many clients of these firms end up with much less than they need or deserve for their losses, leading to ongoing financial struggles for years to come in many cases. See our recent settlements and how we care about you and your case.
How can you determine whether a lawyer offers contingency fees or another arrangement? Ask them. Car accident law firms offer a free initial consultation to their clients before representing them. When you set up a free consultation, make the most of it and ask as many questions as possible. Lawyers with nothing to hide are willing to share all the details of their contingency fee arrangements with you.
Before you begin working with a lawyer, you will sign a representation agreement. This agreement will set out all the terms of the attorney-client relationship, including how fees work. If you are unclear about how the lawyer will cover costs or what fees will come from your settlement, keep asking questions until you understand. Never sign anything without understanding the agreement - including legal representation agreements.
You can also use the free consultation to ensure the lawyer is the best fit for your case. Make sure the car accident lawyer has handled cases like yours and achieved successful results in the past. You want to connect with and trust your attorney with your claim, so take this opportunity to inquire about the lawyer’s methods and experience. You have nothing to lose by scheduling multiple free consultations until you find the right fit.
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Will a contingency fee cut into your financial recovery?
The point of a car accident claim is to cover your losses, and you might wonder why you might forgo compensation as legal fees to a car accident lawyer. Can’t you keep more money without hiring an attorney and trying to handle your claim alone?
A common misconception among car accident victims is that you will lose money with a lawyer.
In reality, represented victims regularly take home much more compensation than those without legal help:
- Without a lawyer, an insurance company might offer you $25,000 for your injuries, which will cover your existing medical bills. You do not have to pay legal fees, so you take the entire $25,000. But you may later find your bills reach $40,000—leaving you on the hook for $15,000.
- If you do not accept the initial settlement and instead hire a lawyer, they will use their experience to calculate and negotiate for your full damages. In the end, the insurance company increases the offer to $125,000 since your lawyer proved your future and non-economic losses. Even if you pay the lawyer $40,000 in fees, you still take home $85,000, which is significantly more than the initial $25,000 without legal fees and more than enough to pay your bills.
This common scenario demonstrates the benefits of a lawyer and contingency fees in car accident claims.
Disturbing car accident statistics
Unfortunately, car accidents have become quite the norm. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) reports that in a recent year, 35,766 fatal motor vehicle accidents occurred in the United States. These accidents resulted in 11.7 deaths per 100,000 people and 1.34 deaths per 100 million miles traveled. The severity of car accidents is increasing almost as much as the number of car accidents happening annually. This increase means you have a greater chance of suffering from catastrophic injuries from a car accident.
Catastrophic injuries from car accidents
Catastrophic injuries are severe or permanent injuries you can suffer after a serious car accident. They can result in extensive losses and high levels of compensation.
The purpose of seeking compensation from a car accident is to make sure a person is “whole” again after suffering an injury in an accident. With catastrophic injuries, the chances of making a full recovery are slim to none. That means you will most likely pay for medical expenses and other damages associated with your injury for the rest of your life.
You need a lawyer who will seek full compensation for your serious injuries, ensuring that you are not responsible for the costs of an accident that was someone else’s fault.
Denial of claims
Insurance companies also know that you deserve more significant compensation when you suffer catastrophic injuries. That is why they will outright deny your car accident claim or insinuate that you are responsible for your car accident to avoid paying your claim. Even when you file your claim with great expectations, you do not want to underestimate the lengths insurance companies will go to avoid paying your compensation. You always want to hire a lawyer to assist with your car accident claim.
Liability for car accidents
One liable driver might have lower insurance policy limits that might not cover your losses. Your attorney can investigate whether other parties should share in the liability.
- If multiple vehicles were in the accident, you might seek compensation from more than one driver’s insurance policy.
- If a driver was working when they caused the crash, their employer might be vicariously liable for the accident, and you might access the employer’s corporate insurance policy.
- If the driver was a rideshare driver, Uber or Lyft's corporate policies might kick in and cover up to $1 million for your injuries, which is much more than the individual driver's coverage.
These are only some liability issues your car accident lawyer can address to maximize your financial recovery.
Contact a car accident lawyer today
When you suffer injuries in a car accident, you deserve to receive the total compensation you deserve. While it is great that you are being transparent with insurance companies, they are not being transparent with you. You need legal reinforcements to ensure that insurance companies do what they are legally obligated to do when you file a claim following a car accident.
Contacting and having a lawyer on your side can serve as that legal reinforcement you need for your car accident case. With contingency fee arrangements, you can receive the high-quality legal representation you deserve for your car accident case without needing to scrape together legal fees upfront. Seek a free consultation with a personal injury attorney today.