Getting in an accident is bad enough, especially if you are hurt. But what are you supposed to do if you need a lawyer to fight for your rights, but you don’t have the money for it?
It’s not uncommon for a victim of an accidental injury to deal with financial strain as they may have to pay insurance deductibles for vehicle damage and face mounting medical bills. On top of that, their income may take a hit due to time missed at work for physical recovery and medical appointments.
A lawyer can help you recover financial compensation for your damages, but how can you afford one if you don’t have money? The good news is that personal injury lawyers structure their fees in a way that makes it easy and affordable for anyone to retain a lawyer.
Get a Free Consultation Before Committing
The job of a personal injury attorney is to recover damages for those who sustained injuries through no fault of their own. They hold the negligent party financially responsible for careless or negligent behavior or actions that led to the injuries.
The majority of reputable personal injury attorneys offer free consultations to enable injured persons to understand their rights and options. They know a free consultation makes it easy for someone with an injury to seek out their help. After all, there’s no risk in talking to an attorney for free.
While the free consultation gives both the client and the attorney a chance to get acquainted with each other, it’s also a chance for the attorney to review the case and give feedback.
Many people think they have a strong case, but due to particular facts or laws, their case may not be so clear-cut. On the other hand, many believe they don’t have a legitimate claim when the facts of the case indicate the opposite. The consultation lets the injured person know their legal standing and whether or not it’s a good idea to pursue a legal claim for damages.
Of course, attorneys cannot make promises or offer guaranteed results. However, the free consultation should give the injured person enough information to make an informed decision whether or not to hire the attorney and seek damages.
If the individual does decide to become a client, there should be no up-front payment needed. That’s because most personal injury attorneys work on a contingency fee basis.
Contingency Fee Basics
A contingency fee is a type of fee agreement that is dependant on the attorney winning your case, either through an out-of-court settlement or jury verdict. In other words, you pay no money upfront. Only if your attorney helps you secure a financial settlement or jury award will you have to pay attorney fees. Your attorney will take the fees out of the award for damages.
You may be wondering what happens if your attorney loses your case. It’s simple—you pay nothing. Working on a contingency fee allows attorneys to help injured clients who need their help but would not otherwise have the means to hire them.
Generally, you will sign an agreement with your attorney that specifies the amount you will pay for fees should your attorney secure financial compensation on your behalf. The percentage the attorney is paid is sometimes variable based on the amount of the amount that is recovered and/or the time required to handle the case.
It’s important to note that you’ll make this agreement with your attorney upfront, and everything should be clear to you in simple language. Before you agree to sign, the fee structure should be clear and transparent.
The costs of a personal injury claim will vary depending on how your case is resolved. If you reach a resolution during pre-litigation or pre-trial settlement negotiations, you will generally incur fewer legal expenses than if your case requires litigation or a full trial.
The litigation costs associated with filing a personal injury lawsuit include:
- Filing fees: The costs courts charge to file a lawsuit or submit other documents for court review.
- Depositions/Discovery: Depositions involve taking testimony under oath of witnesses and experts involved in the case. These can be quite expensive. During litigation the parties will share information about the case or seek records from third parties by subpoena. This is part of the discovery process and there are related expenses.
- Experts: Your case may need support from expert testimony, and there will be fees for an expert to review your case, write a summary, and provide testimony.
- Securing evidence: It takes time and resources to obtain public documents, medical records, and so on. An investigator might be needed to find information.
- Incidentals: Shipping, postage, document copies, and other incidentals are involved in almost every personal injury or wrongful death case.
If you win your case, you may need to reimburse your attorney who has advanced these costs along with the percentage of the recovery that has been agreed to. But under most contingency-fee arrangements, you won’t pay for any of these fees should your claim not result in a recovery. If you must pay these expenses, they come directly from your settlement, so you never have to pay anything out of pocket.
Don’t Let Money Hold You Back from Pursuing Justice
Accidents can often be life-altering, even if the injuries are not life-threatening. Injuries can require long-term treatment, and medical costs can wreak havoc on a victim’s finances.
Don’t let an injury resulting from another person’s negligence or wrongdoing harm you physically and financially. Priority number one is seeking professional medical care for your injuries. An experienced attorney knows how to properly deal with the at-fault party’s insurer to make sure you receive proper medical attention.
Thankfully, personal injury attorneys understand that many accident victims could not afford to retain their services if they did not work on a contingency fee basis. Working on contingency removes the financial risk; if the attorney doesn’t prove your case successfully, you don’t pay a penny.
You owe it to yourself to restore both your physical and financial health after sustaining injuries in a serious accident. If lack of money is holding you back from pursuing these goals, consider contacting a personal injury attorney for your claim.