The short answer to the question of whether personal injury lawyers are worth your time and money is this: most of the time they are, but some of the time they are not. They are most likely to be useful when your evidence is strong and the value of your claim is high.They are least likely to be useful for weak claims of low value. The catch-22 here is that you might have to speak with a lawyer to determine whether or not your claim is strong or whether its value is high.
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To know whether a personal injury lawyer is worth your time and money, you must first understand what a personal injury lawyer does. Personal injury lawyers represent clients who have been injured in an accident or another incident due to the negligence or wrongdoing of another party. They help you recover compensation for medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other damages related to your injuries.
Following is a brief list of some of the services that a skilled personal injury lawyer can provide for you:
- Investigate your claim. Your lawyer will investigate your claim, gather evidence, and identify the liable parties in your case.
- Determine the strength of your claim. How likely are you to win? If the lawyer doesn’[t think they can win, they won’t take your case.
- Determine the value of your claim. You cannot obtain the full value of your claim unless you know what the value is. Components of a personal injury claim can include medical expenses, property damage, out-of-pocket expenses, and pain and suffering. Your lawyer will help you identify and calculate your damages.
- Negotiate a settlement. Your lawyer will handle all negotiations on your behalf.
- File a lawsuit. It might make sense to file a lawsuit even if you plan to settle your claim. Your lawyer might need to file a lawsuit to beat the statute of limitations deadline or to put pressure on the insurance company to settle for a fair amount.
- Handle pretrial discovery. This includes depositions, interrogatories, and other ways that parties gather evidence from each other under court supervision.
Your choice of whether to hire a lawyer could turn out to be the most important decision you make in the entire case.
Ultimately, a seasoned personal injury lawyer will save you time by expediting your claim and moving the process along at a reasonable pace. Since “time is money”, saving time will probably enhance your financial position as well.
On the other hand, an honest lawyer will not rush your case down the pipeline too quickly. Pursuing a personal injury case will demand at least some time from you. You will likely need to answer some questions and provide some documents. The time you spend doing this will likely be less than the time you would spend if you represented yourself.
To understand the value of hiring a personal injury lawyer, you need to balance out the expenses of hiring a lawyer versus the increase in compensation you are likely to enjoy.
The two main expenses you must bear in a personal injury case are legal fees and case expenses.
The good news about personal injury lawyers is they work on a contingent fee. That means they cost you nothing upfront. Your fee will equal a pre-agreed-upon percentage of the total amount you win, whether in court or at the settlement table. Lawyer’s contingency fees typically range from 30% to 40%,
Ultimately, personal injury case expenses are not necessarily outright losses. They are often amounts you will have to spend anyway, or they are investments that will pay off in terms of a higher compensation award and/or a quicker payout.
One example is expert witness fees. You can pursue your claim without an expert witness, but in many cases, your chances of winning will be greatly reduced. Most personal injury lawyers will pay your case expenses up front and then deduct them from your verdict or settlement.
The Insurance Research Council estimates that personal injury victims who hire lawyers receive, on average, 3.5 times as much as victims who represent themselves. So let’s do some math here.
Suppose you win $100,000 for your claim. Multiply that by 3.5 to get the $350,000 a lawyer might win for you. Assuming the lawyer’s contingency fee is 40% (a higher-than-average fee), you will receive 60% of that. 60% of $350,000 equals $210,000–more than twice what you would have received if you had “saved money” by representing yourself.
Of course, this won’t be true of every personal injury case. However, it illustrates the value that a personal injury lawyer can provide in the average case.
Most personal injury lawyers offer free consultations to help you understand your rights after an accident. This consultation is a perfect way to assess whether an injury attorney is worth your time and money. Contact an experienced injury lawyer today for help with your case.