You will need to trust the car accident lawyer you select to settle your claim favorably on your behalf. You are entitled to ask whatever questions come to mind so that you are comfortable moving forward.
How Does the Fee Structure Work?
Car accident lawyers work on a contingency fee basis. They will only get paid if there is a settlement or judgment in your case. A 33%-45% cut of the settlement is fairly common, and while that may seem like a big chunk of your settlement, don’t try to haggle with your lawyer.
The fact of the matter is that if your law firm is motivated to help you achieve a higher settlement, the results will be better. The last thing you want is to hire a firm that 1) charges a low fee, because they are probably not very good, or 2) feels like they aren’t being compensated well, and are therefore less motivated.
How are Costs and Fees Paid?
A percentage of your recovery, usually 33%, will go to the lawyer who handles your case. If a lawsuit is filed, expenses go up dramatically and the lawyer is entitled to 40% of your recovery. While the percentages seem high, understand that if a lawyer triples the settlement offer you have in hand, you will still have double the settlement amount you originally started with.
Determine whether you will have to pay court costs if you lose in court. Costs cover general administrative expenses, but may be higher for lawsuit related expenses like filing fees or expert witnesses. Some lawyers absorb those costs, but some do not.
What Trial Experience Does the Lawyer Have?
It is important to hire a car accident lawyer who is not afraid to go to court should the need arise. Some insurers will only raise their settlement offer upon threat of an impending lawsuit. If you realize that your lawyer has only ever negotiated out of court for a settlement, you should probably look elsewhere.
How Familiar is Your Lawyer With Similar Cases or Insurance Companies?
When you hire a lawyer to represent you, ask whether they are familiar with cases similar to your own. This is an advantage for you because it will help the lawyer know how best to move forward with your case.
A car accident lawyer may also have a history of dealing with your insurer or helping you get your medical bills paid, and will know if a lawsuit is needed. They will also know the tactics various insurers use to deny your demand for an increased settlement amount.
How to Balance the Cost of Lawsuit with Likelihood of Higher Settlement Amount
Any lawsuit will require additional expenses in order to bring forth the best possible case. There will be interrogatories, depositions, transcripts, court filing costs, etc. These higher costs must be balanced with the increased amount the lawyer expects to negotiate.
Ask about the likelihood of a higher recovery if the case goes to trial. Ultimately, It may be more cost effective to accept a settlement for a lower amount, rather than begin a lawsuit that may not net a higher recovery for you.
Insights Into How to Maximize Your Settlement
You can always use your free consultation to seek guidance. A car accident lawyer may be able to advise you on the best way to proceed and how to maximize your settlement offer. Perhaps, there are damages you could add to increase your offer. The consultation does not obligate you to retain a lawyer. It is up to you whether or not you think it’s best to move forward with legal representation.
Considered Opinion as to the Fairness of Settlement Offer Already Received
Car accident lawyers have extensive experience and expertise in handling settlement negotiations with insurance companies. In considering your case, they will tell you whether the offer is sufficient or whether pursuing further negotiations is warranted.
Top 3 Reasons to Contact a Car Accident Lawyer
In car accident cases, half of those claimants who contact an attorney do so in the midst of negotiations or after receiving a settlement offer. According to the Insurance Research Council (IRC), they either find the initial offer unsatisfactory, or simply want the largest recovery available to them, in the quickest time possible.
Real-World Data: Why Do People Hire a Particular Lawyer?
Based on publicly available data, here are the three main reasons that people hire one lawyer over another:
- Suggested by friend, family, or doctor (49%)
- To ensure they receive highest possible settlement (22%)
- Unhappy with delays or amount of settlement (25%)
If you’ve suffered a serious injury because of someone else’s carelessness, you may have a case. Contact a lawyer and keep the above questions in mind.