Car accidents are stressful.
If you’ve been injured in a car accident, you not only have to recover from those injuries, but you may also find that the defendant is unwilling to admit fault. It’s up to you to prove that they have to pay compensation to cover your losses.
Proving liability and litigating a case can be complicated. What may appear to be a simple collision dispute could give rise to a complex set of facts that implicate the manufacturer, or even the city government. Given the unpredictability of the litigation process, it’s absolutely critical that you contact an experience car accident attorney for help.
But what can an attorney do, exactly? Let’s address some concerns that plaintiffs may have when hiring an attorney for a car accident dispute.
How A Car Accident Lawyer Can Help
Though the general public often connects legal advocacy to trial litigation, the truth is that the large majority of cases settle before they ever advance to a courtroom trial. Attorneys play a significant role in investigating the facts, developing a persuasive argument, and negotiating a settlement. In some cases, they may even mediate between the injured plaintiff and medical providers or insurance companies.
Key responsibilities of a personal injury attorney include:
- Investigating the facts of the case
- Gathering and preserving evidence for trial
- Serving as a “communication middleman”
- Identifying eyewitnesses
- Collaborating with expert witnesses
- Developing a comprehensive legal strategy
- Negotiating a potential settlement
- Reacting dynamically to changing circumstances
The ultimate goal of a personal injury lawyer is to secure compensation for their client’s losses, caused by the accident at-hand. These losses may include:
- Wage loss
- Pain and suffering
- Medical expenses
- Loss of earning capacity
- Property loss
- And more
How Much Does A Car Accident Attorney Cost? Contingency Fee Arrangements And Free Consultations
You may be wondering: how much will it cost to hire a car accident attorney? After all, you may not have a lot of money to pay an attorney.
Not a problem.
Most car accident attorneys work on a contingency basis. This means that you pay nothing unless and until you “win” the case and obtain compensation. There are no upfront costs. Put simply, the attorney will represent you for free, covering out-of-pocket expenses (i.e., medical expenses) and covering the costs of litigation (i.e., working with expert witnesses and investigators, building the case, etc.).
Over time, this can add up. Your attorney may put in hundreds of thousands of dollars of work — for free!
Contingency fees make it easier for injured plaintiffs to secure quality legal representation. In exchange, the plaintiff will have to give a percentage of their “winning” recovery over to the attorney. For example, if your attorney settles your car accident case for $200,000, they may take $50,000 in contingency fees, leaving you with a final recovery of $150,000.
This dynamic is advantageous for the plaintiff. Not only do you pay no upfront costs, but it also incentivizes the attorney to work efficiently and to maximize your overall compensation. The more that your attorney can secure on your behalf, the more they get paid. It’s a win-win situation.
Do bear in mind that most car accident attorneys also provide consultations free of charge. This can help you understand whether you have an actionable claim, and whether you’d like to move forward with your case.
There is no barrier to entry, so make sure to contact an attorney to get started on next steps. Contact 1-800-THE-LAW2 to be connected to an experienced car accident lawyer in our network.
How Much Is Your Case Worth?
If you’ve been injured, then you probably want to know how much your case is (potentially) worth. The truth is, the value of your case is fact-dependent and may change due to how your attorney is able to litigate it.
Still, there are a number of ways in which we can break down the damages. This will give you a rough sense of what types of damage you may be entitled to recover in the lawsuit.
Damages can be split into three types: noneconomic, economic, and punitive.
Noneconomic damages include the following losses:
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of quality of life
- Emotional distress
- And more
Economic damages include the following losses:
- Wage loss
- Loss of future earning capacity
- Property loss
- Past and future medical expenses
- And more
Punitive damages are somewhat different. They are meant to punish defendants who engaged in particularly problematic, malicious behavior (i.e., drunk driving, road rage accidents, etc.) — and are only available in limited cases. Punitive damages are worth claiming where possible, however, as they multiply the baseline damages, leading to damage totals that can tally up into millions.
Working With An Attorney As Soon As Possible
It’s not only important that you get connected to an attorney. You should also do so as soon as possible after your car accident.
There are a number of reasons.
Attorneys engage significant resources towards investigating the case. They identify witnesses, work to gather all relevant evidence (i.e., photographic and video evidence from nearby security cameras, medical records, police records, employment records, certifications, etc.), and evaluate potential legal arguments that could win the case for the plaintiff.
Skilled attorneys have their fingers on the pulse of the case at all times — you can rest easy knowing that all necessary procedures will be followed. For example, if you’ve been in a collision accident, an attorney will take steps to preserve the totaled vehicle (as it can serve as valuable evidence in reconstructing the accident).
Preventing Problematic Disclosures
As the plaintiff, the success of your case could be dramatically influenced by your own fault contribution. In other words, if you are partly responsible for your own injuries (i.e., if you were speeding at the time of the accident, or failed to wear a seatbelt), then you could have your damages reduced — in some cases, a recovery may not be available at all.
To minimize the likelihood of this occurrence, your attorney will serve as your communication middleman. They will speak with opposing counsel and with insurers on your behalf. This protects you from admitting certain facts that could undermine your case.
Statute of Limitation Issues
All personal injury disputes — including car accidents — are governed by an applicable statute of limitations. The statute of limitations is essentially a deadline. If you do not file your claim by the deadline, then you will no longer have a right to bring the lawsuit against the defendant. Simply put: a failure to act within a reasonable time period can prevent you from securing compensation.
Give this deadline issue, it’s critical that you consult with an attorney as soon as possible after an accident. Your attorney will be aware of all procedural matters, such as case deadlines, and will file within the applicable timeframe.
Finding The Right Attorney
So you know that you need a lawyer— but how do you find the right car accident lawyer to fit your needs?
Here are some tips to make the best decision possible:
Ask For An Attorney
It can be difficult to assess the quality of an attorney from a cursory search online. That’s where we come in. Here at 1-800-THE-LAW2, our network consists of experienced car accident attorneys. We’ll connect you to an attorney in our network in just ten minutes or less. Our experienced attorneys will fight to get you the compensation you deserve.
Understand The Fee Structure
As discussed earlier, most car accident lawyers work on a contingency basis, meaning they charge no upfront fee and get a percentage of the damages when you win your case. Before you sign anything, be sure that you have a complete understanding of “when” you have to pay and what that fee is based on. Car accident lawyers may work with different contingency fee percentages, so be sure that you’re comfortable with the amount before moving forward with that attorney.
Though experience isn’t the only predictor of quality representation, it is meaningful. An experienced attorney has litigated many cases and has seen “patterns” in litigation. This gives them unique insights into how best to proceed with your case to maximize compensation and avoid a negative outcome. We encourage you to work with car accident attorneys who have helped clients navigate a variety of accident scenarios.
Go Through A Free Consultation
Most car accident lawyers offer a free consultation. During this consultation, they will gather more information about your case and help identify strategic options. If a car accident lawyer wants money up front for a consultation, they’re probably not the right candidate. Also, do be sure to evaluate whether you feel comfortable with a car accident lawyer. Are your personalities compatible in the working context? If so, you’ll enjoy a smoother process — this can help in dealing with an otherwise stressful experience.
Should I Look For A Large Or A Small Firm?
Oftentimes, the general public assumes that larger firms are “better” than smaller firms. That simply isn’t true. It’s important not to jump to conclusions.
At larger firms, a car accident or personal injury case can get lost in the shuffle. It may not get the attention it deserves. By contrast, there are many small-to-medium-sized firms out there that do an excellent job in representing car accident victims. Generally speaking, you are more likely to get personalized and focused attention from a smaller firm.
What If My Case Seems Too Small For An Attorney To Take?
Before taking you on as a client, an attorney will determine whether you are a viable client for them to take on — in other words, they’ll weigh the challenge of the case against the potential rewards.
Since most car accident lawyers are paid a percentage, some won’t accept cases where the settlement amount is relatively small. Every attorney has overhead costs, after all, and they may feel that the investment is not enough to make the case worthwhile.
Fortunately, most cases can be “worked” up to a reasonable level. If a car accident attorney is unwilling to do that, you may want to explore hiring a different attorney.
What Should I Bring To My First Meeting With A Car Accident Attorney?
The first sit-down meeting with your car accident attorney is important.
Create a folder with copies of all documents that you have on-hand relating to the case. This may include police reports, accident descriptions, photos and videos, paycheck stubs, medical bills, and medical records. Be sure to also include any communications that you may have already had with your insurance company. Documents should be organized so that the car accident attorney doesn’t have to shuffle needlessly through materials.
How Do I Know My Car Accident Lawyer Will Approach My Case In The Right Way?
It’s perfectly acceptable to ask your car accident lawyer how they plan on securing maximum compensation in your case. Attorneys will usually start with giving you a range on what they believe is a realistic settlement after weighing the facts of your case — this will depend on the facts, as well as the likelihood of success (if the case were to go to trial).
If your car accident lawyer starts on one strategic path, but you feel it’s not serving you properly, you can always ask them to change direction and approach your case a different way.
You may also feel strongly that you want to settle soon and not take your case through a lengthy court process. Communicate with your car accident lawyer to express your thoughts on the matter. After all, this is your case.