When you are injured, if that injury is anything more than a minor one that might motivate you to go to your doctor “to just check it out,” then, you need an attorney to help you obtain fair and reasonable compensation.
You say you’re not a person “to sue.” Okay, great. No lawsuit is being filed yet. The process of recovering compensation typically involves making a claim against the at-fault party’s insurance company. Or the business’ insurance company. No lawsuit ever gets filed until you say so. A voluntary “settlement” is reached over 90% of the time. And then, if the case does not initially “settle” and you want to go to court, usually, after the lawsuit is filed, the case settles. Very few cases actually get into the courtroom.
You say it was “just an accident.” Very true. Except when it’s an auto accident and the at-fault party was intoxicated. Then, it wasn’t an accident. That person chose to go out and drink. It was a choice. Knowing he or she would later driver. No accident. But when it was an accident, you still are entitled to be compensated. If you knock over the jar of jelly in the grocery store, it was an accident, right? But you then go and pay for it. Because it is the right thing to do.
So you consider getting an attorney. But you’re concerned about not getting “enough” because the attorney’s fee might take up most of your settlement.
Nothing could be further from the truth. First, the attorney’s fee is contingent and is based upon the recovery made in the case. That means that if we (us attorneys) do not resolve your case, we get nothing. If we do resolve it, we get a percentage. That percentage can vary from, usually, 30% to 40% of the total “gross” settlement amount.
So let’s look at an example (and appreciate I am just making up these numbers in what might be a typical auto accident case where someone maybe went to the hospital and then to physical therapy or to a chiropractor for a few months, and fully recovered from a muscle injury to their neck (whiplash):
$20,000 recovery of compensation for you by the attorney negotiating
Minus 1/3 attorney’s fee = $6,666.67
Minus unpaid medical bills = $4,000.00
You receive: $9,333.33
Now, let’s take another example when you might want to try to resolve this claim yourself.
First, however, understand that insurance companies are not afraid of you. They will not offer you the same amount as they will offer an attorney to settle your case. The reason is simple: an attorney can file a lawsuit; you cannot. The lawsuit means the insurance company might have to pay more if the case goes to court. So they will offer to settle for a reasonable amount to avoid the possibility of having to pay more later.
You ask then, why doesn’t every lawyer in every case just file the lawsuit? Because you, the client, would most often rather get a reasonable (certain and known amount) resolution soon, then wait a year to go to court, and maybe your case doesn’t get a good result. Going to court is not a guarantee of a good result. There is a risk to both you and the at-fault person. Insurance companies try to eliminate risk.
Here’s the example:
$11,000 recovery of compensation for you when you try to do this yourself
Minus unpaid medical bills = $4,000
You get $7,000
Oh yes, I forgot to tell you: often your attorney will get a discount on your medical bills. You cannot get that discount. Why you ask? Because the attorney works with these hospitals and doctors every day, and often makes referrals to the doctors. The doctors, in turn, wanting continuing referrals, are happy to discount their bills. The hospitals too! Because they know the attorney is protecting their bill.
In the first example above, suppose the attorney gets a $1,000 discount on your bills. You then end up with $10,333.33.
Attorney fees do not take up most of your settlement. You get more than you can possibly ever obtain by yourself.