If you suffered injuries in an accident that someone else caused, it is essential that you have knowledgeable legal representation throughout your personal injury claim. Without a lawyer on board in your case, the insurance company will take advantage of you and attempt to resolve your case as quickly and cheaply as possible.
A knowledgeable personal injury lawyer in your area can file an injury claim on your behalf, aggressively negotiate with the insurance company adjuster, and pursue a fair settlement in your claim. If the insurance company refuses to compensate you reasonably, your lawyer can file a lawsuit and litigate your case in court.
When it comes to legal representation in your case, most personal injury lawyers operate on a contingency fee basis. You will not need to pay your lawyer any money upfront. Your lawyer will not receive a fee unless and until they secure monetary compensation on your behalf. If you receive settlement compensation—or a favorable jury verdict or arbitration award—your lawyer can then collect a predetermined portion of your total gross recovery as their legal fee.
Other potential fees in personal injury cases include expenses for obtaining medical records, copying costs, and expert witness fees, all of which come out of your gross recovery.
A knowledgeable personal injury lawyer in your area can meet with you to discuss the circumstances of your accident and determine if you are eligible to file a personal injury claim for damages. If so, your lawyer can explain their contingency fee agreement and answer any questions you may have about their fee arrangement before they begin representing you.
Personal Injury Claims that Stem from Negligence
When a person suffers injuries in an accident resulting from someone else’s negligence, they can file a claim seeking various monetary damages. A person is negligent when they behave unreasonably under the circumstances. This usually means they fail to do something that a hypothetical “reasonable person” would do in the same situation. Alternatively, the at-fault individual might do something that a hypothetical reasonable person would not do under the same circumstances.
Some of the most common accidents and occurrences that result from recklessness and negligence include:
- Car and truck crashes
- Slip and fall accidents
- Boating accidents
- Pedestrian accidents
- Bicycle accidents
- Motorcycle crashes
- Injuries that result from medical negligence
- Product defects
In some situations, it can be difficult to tell how an accident occurred and who caused it. When that happens, a personal injury lawyer in your area can retain an expert, such as a reconstructionist, who can speak with eyewitnesses to the occurrence, review the police or investigation report, and determine precisely how the accident happened.
Your lawyer will then deduct the expert fee from your gross settlement recovery, jury verdict, or arbitration award. However, if you did not obtain monetary recovery in your case, for whatever reason, your lawyer will likely cover these costs.
Once you sign a contingency fee agreement with your lawyer, they can begin investigating the circumstances of your accident and determining your eligibility for filing a claim. If you are eligible, your lawyer can file a claim with the appropriate insurance company and begin negotiating a settlement offer on your behalf.
Common Injuries that Accident Victims Suffer
Victims of serious accidents can suffer injuries that leave them in desperate need of medical treatment and rehabilitation. An accident victim’s injuries typically depend upon the type of accident that occurs, the body part(s) involved, and how the accident happens. Common personal injuries that accident victims sustain include broken bones, soft tissue injuries, internal organ damage, traumatic head injuries, spinal cord injuries, paralysis, and death.
After sustaining your injury, you should seek treatment at a hospital emergency room or urgent care center as soon as possible. The medical provider on duty there can make recommendations about future care and provide any medical treatment you might require.
Seeking prompt medical treatment after an accident is extremely important. It helps to ensure that your injuries do not worsen, and it sends a message to the insurance company that your injuries are serious. Consequently, the insurance company adjuster may be more inclined to offer you significant compensation for your injuries.
While you focus on making a complete recovery, your lawyer can start handling the legal aspects of your claim. After signing a contingency fee agreement, they can gather your medical records and lost wage documentation and assemble these documents into a settlement demand package.
Once you complete the majority of your medical treatment, your lawyer can forward the demand package to the insurance company adjuster handling your claim. If the adjuster accepts fault for your accident, settlement negotiations can begin, and your lawyer can pursue the maximum amount of damages you deserve to recover for your injuries.
Lawyer Contingency Fee Agreements
In most personal injury claims and lawsuits, lawyers operate on a contingency fee basis. This means that they do not charge any upfront fees. Instead, they only recover compensation if the accident victim receives monetary damages through settlement, a jury verdict, or a binding arbitration proceeding.
A lawyer’s contingency fee agreement (CFA), which the accident victim must sign, details the percentage of compensation that the lawyer can recover following a favorable case result.
In addition to recovering their legal fees, a lawyer may also receive reimbursement for various expenses—depending upon the contingency fee agreement’s wording—when a personal injury case ends.
Those expenses may include:
- Copying costs, such as for obtaining and copying medical treatment records
- Expert fees, such as for retaining an accident reconstructionist or medical expert
Medical experts are often necessary to prove causation in a personal injury claim. Expressly, a medical expert must state, to a reasonable degree of medical probability, that a particular injury relates to the subject accident—or that the accident victim suffered a permanent injury. A permanent injury is one that is unlikely to improve over time.
After meeting with your lawyer, you should ask any questions that come to mind regarding their contingency fee agreement and any reimbursable legal fees. If you sign and return the contract, your lawyer will assume that you understood it. After signing the agreement, your lawyer can begin representing you, investigating the circumstances of your accident, and pursuing the monetary recovery you need for your injuries.
Filing a Personal Injury Claim With the Insurance Company
After signing the contingency fee agreement, your lawyer can begin negotiating a settlement with the insurance company adjuster on your behalf. In most situations, an adjuster’s initial offer will be far below the actual value of your personal injury claim.
Adjusters work for insurance companies, and their primary duty is to minimize the compensation the insurance company awards you. Insurance companies, after all, are big businesses, and they will try to save themselves as much money as possible. They make more money when they collect—and keep—premium payments from their insureds.
A knowledgeable personal injury lawyer in your area can negotiate with the insurance company adjuster several times in pursuit of a reasonable settlement offer. If the insurance company does not increase its offer significantly, your lawyer can file a lawsuit and begin litigating your case in the court system.
Even though your lawyer files a lawsuit on your behalf, this does not necessarily mean that your case will proceed all the way to trial. In fact, most personal injury claims resolve long before a trial ever occurs. Filing a lawsuit simply places your case on the court’s docket.
After filing suit, the court will establish various dates and deadlines for your case.
Your lawyer can assist you with every step of the litigation process, including:
- Helping you answer written questions, called interrogatories
- Producing various documents, including medical records and lost wage statements
- Preparing you to testify at a deposition, jury trial, or arbitration hearing
If the parties cannot resolve their claim out of court, they will usually take their case to a jury trial and let the jury resolve all disputed issues. The parties might also consider mediation or arbitration as an alternative to a jury trial. Your lawyer can help you decide on the best course of action for your case and will represent you at all courtroom hearings and out-of-court proceedings.
Potential Damages that Personal Injury Claimants May Recover
Accident victims who suffer serious injuries must often undergo lengthy medical treatment and endure significant pain and suffering. Fortunately, all of these damages are legally compensable. The ultimate damages that an accident victim recovers will typically depend upon the severity of the accident victim’s injuries and the extent of their medical treatment.
It is to a personal injury lawyer’s advantage to maximize the monetary compensation that their accident victim client recovers. After all, the higher the compensation awarded, the more the lawyer will likely receive in lawyer’s fees, pursuant to their contingency fee agreement.
Common damages that accident victims recover in personal injury cases include compensation for:
- Lost earnings, where the accident victim had to miss time from work to recover from their injuries and seek medical treatment
- Loss of earning capacity, where the accident victim had to switch to a less-strenuous, lower-paying job due to the injuries they suffered in their accident
- Mental distress, where the accident and injuries exacted a psychological toll on the accident victim and their body—such as when the victim suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after their accident
- Past and future pain and suffering, where the accident victim experienced pain, suffering, and inconvenience between the time of their accident up through the present—and where the accident victim is likely to experience pain and other symptoms in the future
- Loss of use, where the accident victim suffers a permanent injury—such as paralysis—which prevents them from using one or more body parts after the accident
- Loss of life enjoyment, where the accident victim’s injuries prevent them from participating in activities they once enjoyed—or severely limit their participation in those activities.
- Loss of spousal companionship, where the accident victim’s injuries prevent them from being intimate with a spouse
Your lawyer will do everything possible to help you maximize the total damages you recover in your personal injury claim or lawsuit.
Talk With an Experienced Personal Injury Lawyer About Your Legal Matter Today
If you sustained injuries in an accident resulting from negligence, time is of the essence in your personal injury claim. Accident victims only have two years from their accident date in which to take legal action against a responsible party. If the accident victim does not file a lawsuit within that time period, they are likely waiving their right to recover monetary damages for their injuries. Therefore, it is essential that you have a knowledgeable personal injury lawyer on board in your case as soon as possible.
Your lawyer can begin the process by ensuring you understand their contingency fee agreement before signing. Next, your lawyer can begin investigating the circumstances of your accident and file a claim on your behalf.
If the insurance company refuses to compensate you appropriately for your injuries, your lawyer can file a lawsuit and litigate your case to a resolution in the court system. Finally, your lawyer can help you decide whether you should accept a pending settlement offer, take your case to trial, or pursue available alternative dispute resolution options in your case.
Contact a lawyer today to receive your consultation.