Is It Worth Hiring A Lawyer For A Car Accident?

It is recommended to hire a lawyer after a car accident to receive the highest settlement amount from the auto insurance company.

By Brad Nakase, Attorney

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Have a quick question? I answered nearly 1500 FAQs.

What Are the Benefits of Hiring a Car Accident Lawyer?

When an individual or their loved one has been involved in a car accident caused by another driver, it can be difficult and stressful worrying about both medical treatment and the insurance claim process all at the same time. With these pressures, one may wonder if it is worth hiring a car accident lawyer.

The truth is that in most circumstances, having a car accident lawyer on one’s side is beneficial, especially if an individual has suffered injuries in the crash. That said, each situation is unique. There are times when having a lawyer is helpful, and others where it may not be necessary.

Insurance companies are used to fighting against injury claims – in fact, they have teams of adjusters who do precisely that. They are skilled at studying a claim and finding ways to pay less. While they may seem to have a person’s best interests in mind, they will always defend their own interests first. This means they will not hesitate to pay an individual the bare minimum.

When an individual hires a car accident lawyer after a crash, he or she is leveling the playing field. A skilled lawyer can begin an investigation and gather evidence of the negligent actions that caused the crash and their client’s damages. This includes the following:

  • Getting the police report from the accident
  • Investigating the accident scene
  • Talking to witnesses who saw what happened
  • Calculating total damages, including pain and suffering damages that are hard to quantify
  • Managing all communications with other parties on one’s behalf

If an insurance company tries to pressure an individual into accepting less than what he or she deserves, then the individual’s lawyer will be there to help negotiate with the adjuster for compensation that is actually fair to the victim.

Insurance companies, particularly large ones, have the resources and experience to manage claims against them. It is not a good idea to go up against them without an experienced lawyer on one’s side. Without the benefit of an attorney, an individual will not be aware of their full legal rights, what they are owed to cover their losses, and other options that are available to the victim.

When Should Someone Hire a Car Accident Lawyer?

An auto accident injury lawyer can be helpful in a number of different situations, but an individual should certainly consider hiring one in the following scenarios.

An Individual Does Not Understand Personal Injury Law

Most people do not know a lot about car accident and personal injury law. Also, the insurance claim process is different depending on where one lives. If an individual is not aware of local laws, it can be hard to know what to do are what steps to follow after a car accident. For this reason, it is a good idea to hire a lawyer who specializes in these areas of the law. They have the relevant education and experience to manage legal claims when a car accident turns an individual’s life upside down. The goal of a personal injury lawyer is to achieve the greatest compensation possible for his or her client so that they may cover their expenses. An individual does not need to spend the energy and time that comes with doing their own research.

An Individual Has a Lot of Damages

After a car accident, an individual may be owed damages such as the following:

  • Medical costs
  • Vehicle repairs
  • Lost wages
  • Disfigurement
  • Pain and suffering

There are a number of different kinds of damages that an individual may have after a car accident. The most common are special economic damages and general non-economic damages.

Special damages are simpler to calculate because they have a specific dollar amount. General damages, on the other hand, are extremely difficult to calculate without the help of a professional. If an individual has non-economic damages and a number of special damages, then it is advisable to work with a personal injury lawyer who can assist with the claim. Otherwise, it is likely that an individual will not receive the full compensation they are due.

An Individual’s Claim Is Denied or They Get a Small Offer

An insurance company may deny an individual’s claim for any number of reasons. Therefore, hiring a personal injury lawyer can help improve an individual’s chances of success from the very start. If a claim is denied after filing, or an individual is offered a very small settlement, then it is especially important that he or she hire a car accident lawyer. An experienced attorney will know how to appeal a denial from the insurance company and challenge them for a better settlement.

The Insurance Company Will Not Negotiate

In certain situations, an insurance company may refuse to negotiate with an individual. If this is the case, and an individual wants to continue fighting for a settlement, then he or she will need to find an experienced attorney who may represent their interests in court.

When Does Someone Not Need a Lawyer After a Car Accident?

Sometimes, it is not necessary for an individual to hire a car accident lawyer. An individual may not require the assistance of a car accident lawyer in any of the following situations.

An Individual Does Not Have Any Injuries

If an individual did not suffer any injuries in their car accident, then he or she may not need to pursue a claim or get help from a personal injury lawyer. While this is unusual, it can happen. That said, an individual will want to be completely sure that he or she want not hurt in the accident. It should be noted that some injuries take time to appear. It is a good idea to see a doctor for evaluation in any case.

An Individual Receives a Fair Offer

If an insurance company offers a settlement that is fair and covers all an individual’s expenses, then he or she may not need the services of a car accident lawyer. However, he or she will want to make sure that they are getting an amount that is sure to cover all their costs.

It is wise to think about all damages before going forward. If an individual has a lot of expenses, then he or she will likely need more money than they anticipate. It is a good idea to schedule a consultation with a car accident lawyer who can offer an opinion on what is a fair amount to expect. Most personal injury lawyers offer a consultation for no cost, so there is no harm in simply speaking with them.

How to Find an Experienced Car Accident Lawyer?

It can be difficult to find an experienced car accident lawyer. Sadly, there are a lot of questionable law firms that out their desire for money ahead of their clients’ interests. In order to hire an experienced and ethical lawyer, an individual should look for the following qualities:

  • The case results of the law firm
  • How long the law firm has been in practice
  • The law firm’s reputation, as seen through news articles, testimonials, and reviews
  • Their response time and dedication to their cases
  • Whether or not they offer a free consultation

Also, an individual should only consider attorneys that accept payment via contingency fees. This is important because it encourages an individual to get legal help and encourages the lawyer to fight hard to win the case,

How Do Personal Injury Lawyers Charge for Their Services?

Rather than charging upfront or hourly fees for their legal assistance, personal injury lawyers generally use contingency fees. This means that they take a percentage of the compensation that they win for their injured clients. That said, the exact percentage that a personal injury lawyer tales depends on the particular circumstances of the case.

What Are Contingency Fees?

A personal injury lawyer does not have a set amount that they charge for a car accident claim. That said, it is common for most lawyers in this field to have a similar fee structure when dealing with a case. If an individual has been injured in a car accident, or any other kind of accident, he or she should hire an experienced personal injury lawyer to help them be awarded the maximum compensation for their claim.

Luckily, when charging for their services, most car accident lawyers work on a contingency fee. This is a structure unique to personal injury lawyers, which makes the situation essentially risk-free for the potential client.

A contingency fee means that the client does not have to pay the attorney until they recover compensation in the case. If the individual recovers money, the lawyer will be paid from either of the following:

  • A percentage of the settlement from a car accident fee
  • A portion of what the judge or jury awards in court

Contingency fees can be a very good thing for the client because they make sure the lawyer has the best interests of the individual in mind. A good outcome in the case helps both the lawyer and the client because there is a chance of financial recovery. This means that the client gets their compensation and the lawyer is paid a portion of what they win. The attorney is therefore contingent on a positive outcome in a personal injury case.

What Are Average Contingency Fees for Accident Lawyers?

But how much do lawyers charge for accident claims? The standard contingency fee for a car accident lawyer ranges from 33.3% to 40% of the settlement. The fee varies depending on the attorney’s quality of services and specific guidelines. Many lawyers use a sliding scale for their contingency fees. This is based on when the case is resolved. For instance:

  • If the case is resolved before the client has to file a lawsuit, the fee will be closer to one-third of the settlement.
  • If the case results in a lawsuit, or mediation or arbitration is needed, then the fee is closer to 40% due to the additional money, time, and resources used.

The American Bar Association (ABA) suggests that when an individual is more involved in their case, the overall costs may be less. However, this is a topic to discuss with one’s lawyer.

What Are Flat Fees and Retainers?

While it is rare, some personal injury attorneys follow an alternative structure rather than the contingency fee. The alternatives are typically:

  • Collecting a retainer
  • Working on a flat fee

If a lawyer requires a retainer, this means that they will ask for a specific amount of money upfront and then get a contingency fee at the end. If the lawyer wins their client money, the amount already paid should be deducted from the percentage they take out of the award or settlement.

The flat fee is common with types of lawyers other than personal injury attorneys. Flat fees are a one-time set payment for the attorney’s services. Some lawyers may provide payment plans, but there is still a set fee involved.

Simple, straightforward cases may be the only times when a personal injury lawyer works on a flat fee. But this is rare.

What Are Other Costs Lawyer Charge in Accident Claims?

While most lawyers do not charge their client an attorney fee until it is drawn from the settlement amount, there are other fees that come with accident claims. These fees may include the following:

  • Filing fees
  • Expert witness or investigator fees
  • Photocopying fees
  • Costs of getting copies of medical records
  • Postage fees
  • Fees related to transcripts, depositions, and trial exhibits

While these fees may seem worrying, one may rest assured that most personal injury lawyers do not charge for extra fees and expenses along the way. Rather, they will likely cover the costs in the moment, then deduct them from the settlement amount at the end, as with the contingency fee.

These additional fees tend to increase the longer a case continues. An individual should ask about these fees when they have their consultation with their potential lawyers. They should learn how these fees are handled if the case is not successful – that is, whether the client is still expected to pay those fees.

What Are the Fees Taken from the Net Settlement?

An individual should also ask their lawyer if their fee will be deducted from their net settlement. The net settlement refers to how much money is left over after case costs have been subtracted. Most legal firms will do this, though some may attempt to increase what they get paid by subtracting their fee first. Doing this before taking out additional feels makes their pay higher.

How Does a Lawyer Get Paid After Settling a Claim?

If a personal injury lawyer is successful and wins their client a settlement for their injury, then he or she will usually receive a settlement check directly. This way, the lawyer can subtract their percentage as the contingency fee for their services.

After getting the settlement check, the attorney will contact their client to inform them of its receipt. They will then offer an itemized list showing their own fee and any additional expenses involved in the case. These fees will be subtracted, and the client will be paid the remaining balance from the settlement.

This process benefits many clients because it lets them get paid without needing to pay their lawyer out-of-pocket. It also keeps them from worrying about fees and costs during the case.

Have a quick question? We answered nearly 2000 FAQs.

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