Breaking Down the Legal Cost of a Personal Injury Claim
Hiring a lawyer to handle your personal injury claim can make it much easier to pursue the compensation you deserve for the injuries you sustained. However, many people worry about the cost of hiring an attorney. Just how much does it cost to work with a Chicago personal injury lawyer? How should you manage your budget so that you can afford an attorney, and how will it impact your settlement?
The cost of hiring a lawyer to help handle your personal injury claim may surprise you.
How Much Does It Cost to Talk to a Lawyer?
If you want to talk to a lawyer and learn a little more about your options, you may secure a free consultation. Most personal injury lawyers offer a free consultation to understand the extent of your injuries, who caused them, and what losses you sustained.
This initial consultation can help answer several vital questions. You can learn more about your claim and rights to feel more confident in your decision to hire a lawyer.
Do you have the right to a personal injury claim?
In many cases, a lawyer can help determine whether you have the right to file a personal injury claim during your consultation. An attorney can look over the basic facts of your case to establish whether you have clear grounds to file a claim. The attorney will likely ask about the essential elements of a personal injury claim, such as, who caused your injuries, what circumstances led or contributed to them, and what injuries you suffered.
Do you want to work with a specific attorney?
A free consultation gives you the chance to know a specific attorney and get a feel for whether they are who you'd like to represent you in your personal injury claim. You can ask about the attorney's experience, whether they specialize in a specific area of law, and even how much compensation they think you might recover. This process is to help establish whether you feel comfortable and confident with this particular lawyer.
What are your next steps?
During a free consultation, an attorney can help you better understand what steps you need to take next. The next step may be to review a retainer agreement with the lawyer or possibly abandon your claim, depending on the circumstances.
Sometimes, moving forward with a claim may not be your best or only course of action. What if you suffered a dog attack from a friend's dog or a car accident involving a driver without insurance? An attorney can provide you with basic information about the legal process and how you might pursue compensation in your situation.
How Much Does a Personal Injury Lawyer Cost?
After your free consultation, you will need to decide whether to hire a personal injury attorney. Cost may factor heavily into that equation. An attorney can provide you with how much it will cost to use their services. However, personal injury attorneys generally accept claims on a contingency fee basis.
What is a contingency fee?
A contingency fee means the attorney performs the legal services to settle your claim and then takes a percentage of your compensation from the settlement or court award. In some cases, the lawyer's office may use a timetable of events to determine what percentage they will claim.
For example, suppose your case goes to court to reach an agreement. In that case, the lawyer may take a higher percentage than if you settle the claim relatively quickly. On the other hand, some attorneys charge the same percentage upfront for their services, regardless of what they need to accomplish to help you settle the claim.
Talk to the lawyer you'd like to represent you in your personal injury claim to learn more about their pricing model. You likely want to ask what the lawyer includes in their pricing and what other fees you may expect to pay. Will you need to pay court costs? Will the attorney charge more if the insurance company requires several rounds of negotiation to reach an agreement? Knowing the expenses upfront can make it easier for you to decide on the right attorney for you.
What happens if you do not win your case?
Typically, the lawyer will not take their percentage under a contingency fee agreement if you do not win a settlement. This arrangement is where contingency comes from; the lawyer's fee is contingent on winning your claim. However, you should talk to your lawyer about any costs accrued outside the fee percentage, as you may still owe those whether you win or lose.
Is Hiring a Lawyer Really Worth It?
When you have to deal with a serious personal injury claim, you may wonder if hiring a lawyer will offer real benefit to your claim. Hiring a lawyer may seem prohibitively expensive, even on a contingency fee basis. You may wonder if you can avoid working with a lawyer and handle your claim yourself.
In most cases, a lawyer will not take your case unless they feel they can offer real benefit to your claim, even after you factor in the cost of your legal fees. However, it may surprise you just how much benefit a lawyer can bring to your case.
A lawyer will make sure you understand the compensation you deserve for your injuries.
In many cases, insurance companies will try to take advantage of a victim's inexperience and lack of knowledge about the compensation they deserve. The insurance company will often start by offering a meager settlement covering only a percentage of the injured party's damages. That offer may not even cover the extent of your medical costs, much less the wages lost or suffering you faced as a direct result of your accident.
Many victims take those low settlement offers because they do not realize they deserve more and are in desperate financial hardship. If you accept a low settlement, you cannot ask for additional compensation later, meaning you may lose much of the compensation you deserve for your injuries.
A lawyer will help negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf.
Sometimes, dealing with the insurance company after a severe accident can be stressful. You may find yourself struggling to get the support you need to navigate your personal injury claim. Often, insurance adjusters are more concerned with avoiding paying more compensation than necessary than providing you the compensation you need for your injuries.
However, a lawyer will take over those vital negotiations on your behalf, supporting you and ensuring that the insurance company considers your needs when determining the compensation for your claim. A lawyer can help establish the total losses you have faced and the compensation to cover those losses. Furthermore, a lawyer can collect evidence related to your claim to determine liability for your accident and injuries. A lawyer's clear, compelling claim provides better odds of recovering the total compensation you deserve for your injuries.
A lawyer can help negotiate to lower your financial burden after medical treatment.
In some cases, your medical expenses may account for your entire settlement, leaving nothing left for lost wages or pain and suffering. A lawyer can negotiate with your health insurance and medical care providers to lower your financial burden, leaving you more compensation for your other losses.
Working with a lawyer can help lower your stress levels as you manage your claim.
Do not underestimate the value of having an experienced lawyer on your side to help manage the stress that often goes along with a personal injury claim. You face enough challenges with your physical recovery.
Handling an insurance claim on top of that can leave you stressed and overwhelmed. However, with an attorney on your side, you can feel more confident about the outcome of your claim, lowering your stress about your financial future. Furthermore, a lawyer will communicate with the insurance company so you will not have to spend unnecessary time and energy on this anxious aspect of your claim.
In some cases, a lawyer may identify more than one party that shares liability for your accident.
Following a serious accident, your lawyer may determine that more than one person shares liability for your injuries, which could increase the compensation you ultimately recover. Take an accident with a truck driver, for example.
You may blame the truck driver's actions for causing the accident and have plenty of evidence to establish negligence on the driver's part. However, your lawyer's investigation into the facts of the accident may uncover that the trucking company also shares liability. Therefore, you could pursue compensation from the company and the driver's insurance company.
A lawyer can help you determine all parties that may share liability for your injuries. Doing so will allow you to hold all parties responsible and recover more compensation.
How Much Does a Personal Injury Lawyer Cost Per Hour?
When you think about hiring a lawyer for many services, you may expect to pay between $100 and $300 per hour. However, a personal injury lawyer usually does not work on an hourly basis. Instead, personal injury lawyers typically work on the contingent fee basis discussed above. Therefore, you won't have to worry about how much time the lawyer spends on your case because their fee depends on your success.
If you do need to hire a personal injury attorney for a minor matter that is less involved, you can ask the attorney for their hourly rate and an estimated cost to complete the work.
Contact a Personal Injury Lawyer Soon After Your Accident
Many victims of serious injuries, fearing the cost of hiring a lawyer to help with their claim, wait to talk to an attorney. They may try to handle things independently, only calling a lawyer when things get complicated or they're struggling to get the compensation they deserve.
Get in touch with a personal injury lawyer as soon after your accident as possible. The sooner you contact a lawyer, the sooner they can start working on your behalf, and the more you can benefit from their expertise.