Discovering that you need a personal injury lawyer in the middle of already financially trying circumstances can make your stomach sink and your chest tighten.
If you need a personal injury lawyer, you likely already have high medical bills and a host of challenges to overcome. You might have to stay out of work, which can mean a further hit to your income. With no money coming in, you may worry that a lawyer remains out of reach.
How can you pay for a lawyer with no money?
Most Personal Injury Lawyers Start With a Free Consultation
In most cases, personal injury lawyers will start with a free consultation. A free consultation will give you the chance to get started on your claim or to learn more about your rights without having to commit to working with a specific attorney or law office.
During a free consultation, you can learn about your claim and your next steps.
Discuss Your Rights
Often, a lawyer will evaluate whether you can file a personal injury claim based on the conditions that led to your injuries. A lawyer might ask basic questions about how your accident occurred and what likely contributed to it, which will provide both you and the lawyer with a better assessment of whether you might have grounds to file a personal injury claim.
Did someone else cause your accident?
Did that other party commit an act of negligence that led to the accident, despite having a clear duty of care that should have led that individual to exercise a certain level of caution?
Did you suffer injuries or damages in the accident, for which you likely deserve compensation?
A personal injury lawyer can tell you if you have grounds for a claim based on the information you share during that consultation. From there, you can decide whether you want to proceed with a personal injury claim.
Sometimes, you may use a free consultation to determine whether a lawyer offers the support and services you need. You might know that you need to hire a personal injury lawyer to manage your injury claim, but have you spoken to the right lawyer for you?
During your initial consultation, you will have the chance to question the lawyer so you can get a better idea of whether the lawyer or law firm will offer a good fit for your personal injury claim.
You may want to ask questions like:
- How does the lawyer charge for his services? This can prove particularly important when you do not have available funds, but still need to hire a lawyer.
- How much does the lawyer feel you can receive in compensation for your injuries?
- Who, at the law firm, will handle your case?
- Does the law firm have experience dealing with the type of personal injury claim you need to file?
Once you have assessed the lawyer’s skills, experience, and cost, you can decide whether you want to move forward with that lawyer.
A consultation does not just let you get a better idea of what working with an attorney might look like or how much compensation you might deserve. It also offers the attorney a chance to evaluate your claim and determine whether you look like a good fit as a client.
Most personal injury lawyers will not take cases unless they feel they can help their clients obtain more compensation for an injury than the client could obtain by dealing with the insurance company alone.
Lawyers may evaluate your case based on how much compensation they feel you might deserve, whether you have grounds for a claim, and whether that particular law firm has the experience necessary to help you navigate your claim. If the lawyer does not feel that the firm offers a good fit for your needs, they may recommend that you take your claim elsewhere.
Many personal injury lawyers, rather than requiring payment upfront for their services, take cases on a contingency fee basis.
What is a contingency fee?
Essentially, personal injury lawyers will often commit to handling your claim, including all the legal services you need to move forward with your claim, for a percentage of the settlement or court award you ultimately receive for your injuries.
Some lawyers will issue contracts that require a set percentage of the compensation you receive, regardless of what legal services you need to help you get there. Can you settle your claim through negotiation? Your lawyer receives the same percentage of that settlement. Do you have to go through mediation or even go to court to reach a fair agreement? Your lawyer will receive the same percentage.
On the other hand, some lawyers will base their fees on how involved your claim grows. If you end up having to go to court, which may involve significantly more effort on the part of the lawyer, you may pay more for those legal services than if you can settle your claim through negotiation.
Why do personal injury lawyers charge contingency fees?
Personal injury lawyers have several reasons for choosing to bill on a contingency fee basis.
Personal injury claims often involve substantial settlements.
Clients who do not have the money to pay for a lawyer upfront will have the money necessary to pay for those legal services once they win the claim. In many cases, clients may not have the ready funds to hire a lawyer, which could interfere with their ability to get the full compensation they deserve through a personal injury claim. After the claim settles or the court imposes an agreement, the client can pay for those services.
Many claimants have substantial financial worries.
Severe injuries mean a lot of financial worries for many victims. You may have considerable medical bills that you have to pay. Depending on the type of injury you suffered, you might not go back to work for quite some time; and in the case of some injuries, you might never return to your previous profession, which may mean an even longer road before you can pursue gainful employment again.
For example, if you suffer a spinal cord injury, it might prevent you from working in construction or a warehouse; and if you suffer a traumatic brain injury, it could stop you, either temporarily or permanently, from working in a creative profession.
You have enough financial worries as you manage your personal injury claim. Getting legal services should not factor into those financial worries.
Personal injury lawyers want to help victims get the financial assistance they deserve.
Personal injury lawyers choose personal injury law for a variety of reasons. Ultimately, however, they aim to help their clients get the full compensation they deserve for their injuries, regardless of the client’s financial status. Often, clients who have severe injuries and deserve substantial compensation have the greatest financial struggles. Personal injury lawyers feel passionate about helping their clients obtain that much-needed compensation.
What happens if my personal injury lawyer does not win my case?
Sometimes, you may feel concerned that you will end up owing your lawyer considerable money if you do not win your case. Worse, you may not have the means to pay your legal fees if you do not win your claim, especially if you did not have the money upfront.
In many cases, you may not owe your lawyer anything if you do not win your claim. Talk to your attorney upfront and discuss the terms of the contract so that you have a solid understanding of what you will owe whether you win the claim or not.
How will contingency fees affect my settlement?
Once you receive a settlement or award from the insurance company that covers the liable party, the check from the insurance company will usually go straight to your lawyer’s office. Your lawyer will put that money in a specific account. Then, anyone with a lien on the account or a right to any of those funds will receive the compensation they deserve.
Most likely, your attorney’s fees will come out of the claim first.
Next, if your medical care providers or the insurance company have placed a lien on your settlement, they will receive the compensation they deserve.
Finally, you will receive the compensation left over.
However, keep in mind that a lawyer’s fees often do not detract from your settlement as much as you might expect. In many cases, a lawyer can help you win considerably more compensation than you might have acquired on your own, even after you subtract those legal fees.
Do You Really Need an Attorney for a Personal Injury Claim?
If you find yourself worrying about funds as you manage your personal injury claim, whether you really need an attorney may cross your mind more than once. Could you handle your claim on your own? With time on your hands while you recover from your injuries, you may feel that you could end up better off if you just handle the claim alone.
However, in many cases, working with a personal injury lawyer can offer considerable advantages that you should carefully consider before handling your claim alone.
Insurance companies often take attorneys more seriously.
Frequently, just having an attorney on your side can cause the insurance company to increase its offer. An attorney shows that you plan to take your claim very seriously and you will put in the effort to pursue the compensation you deserve.
Furthermore, insurance companies know that lawyers understand personal injury law and they will work to help you get that much-deserved compensation, which means offering you more reasonable compensation can ultimately save the insurance company money.
An attorney may identify areas of compensation you didn’t even know to consider.
Not only can an attorney help you take a look at the compensation you deserve for your direct medical expenses, an attorney can help you walk through the compensation you deserve for other elements of your injuries, including lost time at work or direct expenses you have faced because of the accident: home modifications, services you have had to pay for, or lost vacation time used to help reduce your overall lost wages during that period, for example.
An attorney can help break down all of your financial losses, which, for many accident victims, leads to a more comprehensive personal injury claim.
Attorneys can help you collect the evidence you need to establish your claim.
Seeking compensation for your injuries means you may need to prove that you sustained your injuries due to that party’s negligence. A lawyer can help you collect evidence that may prove the other party’s negligence, so you can avoid missing out on the compensation you deserve.
Furthermore, an attorney can help you determine whether, based on the evidence, another party might have contributed to your injuries. If necessary, an attorney can help you file a claim against each party that bears liability for your injuries. Working with a lawyer can make it easier to access much of that evidence.
Speak With a Personal Injury Lawyer to Learn More
If you suffered injuries in an accident due to the negligence of another party, working with a personal injury lawyer can help. Contact a lawyer to set up a free consultation and to learn more about paying for the cost of legal assistance even when you do not have the funds to pay legal fees. Many lawyers have more options available than you might think, making legal assistance affordable for more victims.