Retaining a lawyer to handle your injury claim can help you. Experienced attorneys understand the court system and the law, and you can let your attorney handle the legal complexities of your claim while you focus on getting back to your regular life as soon as possible. To ensure your best chance at success, you should find an attorney who specializes in the specific area of law applicable to your situation.
Many individuals worry about the cost of an attorney. Some lawyers cost more than others. The price of an attorney will vary from firm to firm. Different costs and fees can come up, and some firms require clients to pay upfront. Regardless, don’t let fear of an attorney’s cost prevent you from getting legal representation for your lawsuit.
Can You Pursue a Lawsuit on Your Own?
No. If you try to represent yourself, you would still need to go through the same processes and formalities an attorney would handle. Cases with severe injuries and unclear fault will likely prove more difficult for a non-lawyer to take on. The legal process involves complex facts and tight deadlines, and a person could easily make a mistake that negatively affects the claim.
You could lose your case if you file the wrong document or perform the incorrect procedure. An attorney can help avoid mistakes and potentially save you money.
Benefits of Hiring a Lawyer
Retaining an attorney to help handle your case can provide numerous benefits, including the following:
Attorneys Can Challenge Evidence
Sometimes, the other party may have obtained information against you improperly. The lab may not have handled the evidence correctly. If you retain legal representation, your lawyer can challenge the validity of this evidence.
Attorneys know what to look for and how to determine if evidence got managed improperly. Attorneys may have certain pieces of information suppressed. Lawyers can pay attention to witness statements and spot any contradictions, as well.
Lawyers Negotiate Settlements
Most lawsuits end in settlements. However, you usually would not want to settle with the insurance company right away. The insurer will likely try to pay you as little as possible, which may include offering a low-ball initial settlement that won’t cover the full cost of your injuries.
A lawyer can help determine the value of your claim and make sure that you don’t settle for less. Your attorney can negotiate with the opposing party to ensure that you receive maximum compensation.
Access to Experts and Witnesses
Lawyers rely on a network of people to help with a client’s case. The network usually consists of professionals who can challenge evidence or help with discovery. In a medical malpractice case, an attorney might get another competent doctor to show that the defendant’s action constituted negligence.
If you decide not to hire an attorney, you likely won’t know who to contact to help with your claim. Witnesses provide vital evidence in a lawsuit, and a lawyer can ensure that you speak with all individuals who witnessed your accident.
Lawyers Do Not Let Others Take Advantage of You
The opposing party may try to trick you into saying something that seems to indicate you accept liability for the accident. The other lawyer might phrase a question in a specific way. Your attorney can notice when the opposing side uses certain tactics. Your attorney can advise you on how to proceed, so you ensure that at-fault parties and their insurance companies don’t take advantage of you.
How Much Does a Lawyer Cost?
The cost of a lawyer will vary based on your location, the size of the firm, and the type of case involved. Some have a flat rate, and others charge by the hour. Some attorneys may offer a retainer or a contingency fee arrangement, depending on the type of case. You should find out how much your potential lawyer will cost upfront. Most lawyers will provide you with an estimate when explaining their fee structures.
Attorneys commonly bill clients at an hourly rate. The hours include the time a firm spent obtaining documents, reviewing case files, going to court, and other tasks. Operating expenses, location, and years of experience can influence the hourly rate as well.
In small towns, an attorney may charge around $100 to $200 an hour. In cities, that rate may increase to $200 to $400 an hour. Specialized lawyers and larger firms may charge more.
Sometimes, clients pay a flat fee upfront. In this scenario, you would pay the cost for the entirety of the case at the onset. Some types of lawsuits commonly utilize a flat rate structure, but others don’t. A specific and simple legal claim may use a flat fee, but you need to pay attention to the agreement. Some agreements do not cover other fees.
Many lawyers have their clients pay a retainer fee, which serves as a down payment on a case. You would pay it upfront, and further charges may arise as the case progresses. Attorneys generally will not refund retainer fees if they drop a case.
Some firms use a contingency fee, which constitutes a percentage of the final settlement amount. You would not pay it until the case resolves, and most contingent fees range from 25 percent to 40 percent. Lawyers do not calculate the amount until they have subtracted other expenses from the settlement.
The other expenses may include travel fees, photocopying fees, and expert witness fees. Some attorneys do not collect a dime unless they win the case.
What Can You Do If You Cannot Afford an Attorney?
Of course, if you need a personal injury lawyer, you can afford one, since they don’t charge you unless they recover compensation for you—and even then, they only take a percentage of what they recover.
You can use various strategies to get help if you cannot afford other types of lawyers. The American Bar Association recommends that lawyers provide at least 50 hours of pro bono work a year. Many law schools have pro bono programs, as well. Under this arrangement, students provide legal services for a variety of issues for free.
A person can go to a legal aid society for help. As nonprofit organizations, these societies provide free services to low-income clients. Many states have several organizations, but an individual or couple might not qualify if their income exceeds the maximum limit.
Many people contact the city courthouse for advice. The courthouse may suggest who to go to or what you should do. Some individuals call their county or state bar association to ask legal questions.
You also may choose to reach out to a lawyer referral service, a network that connects people to lawyers and can recommend a low-fee attorney in certain situations. Regardless of how you go about it, you should retain a personal injury attorney to help with your legal claim as soon as possible to ensure your best chance of success.