No two personal injury cases are alike because each incident involves different persons, circumstances, locations, and injuries. Most personal injury victims, however, wonder about the need to hire a lawyer and how much money it may cost. If you’ve experienced injuries due to someone’s carelessness, you need to weigh the advantages a personal injury lawyer provides against the cost of hiring one. Take time to assess these factors for your particular case.
Understand the Choices California Provides
California courts allow you to hire an attorney or choose to represent yourself in personal injury claims. If you are thinking about acting as your own lawyer, it is important to realize exactly what is involved in the process.
Forms, Deadlines, and Court Protocols
While you enjoy the right to represent yourself in court, you must follow the same procedures and rules required of any legal representative. The California Courts website provides excellent resources for the various forms you need to file and information about the deadlines you must meet. However, no special courtrooms, judges, or rules exist for claimants representing themselves. If you fail to fill out a form correctly or file it on time, a judge could dismiss your case.
Remember you may also need to negotiate with insurance adjusters, interview witnesses, and prove the defendant’s negligence. These often become complex and time-consuming issues when you’ve never dealt with them before.
Small Claims Court
If your claim for compensation is under $10,000, you can file your case in small claims court. You can confer with an attorney beforehand, but the court does not allow lawyers on either side during the court procedures.
Examine the Financial Considerations of Hiring a Lawyer
For most personal injury victims, the biggest deterrent to hiring an experienced attorney to help is apprehension about the cost. If you have sustained personal injuries, contact a law firm that offers a cost-free evaluation and set up a meeting. You can receive insight into the strengths of your case and find out the exact costs involved.
Some attorneys work on a contingency fee basis. This is helpful if you lack money to pay hourly fees upfront. When a lawyer works on a contingency basis, you only pay when you receive a settlement amount from an insurance company or an award from a court. Once the case is settled, the attorney’s fee generally ranges from 33% to 40% of the money awarded. If you do not receive any money from your claim, the lawyer is not paid.
Although the contingency fee can seem significant, the knowledge and experience the attorney offers may result in a higher award than you could obtain on your own. Attorneys generally only accept cases on contingency that have a high chance of succeeding.
Other Types of Fees
Attorneys may also charge by the hour or charge an hourly fee on a sliding scale. The lawyer may also offer a set fee for a defined service. It is important to understand in advance exactly how the fees are calculated.
Evaluate the Competence and Experience an Attorney Provides
It takes a long time to learn any new job, including work duties, vocabulary, company culture, and forms or software programs. Now consider the legal complexities you need to understand to file a personal injury claim. You have to document the details and prove negligence on the part of the person responsible for your injuries.
An experienced personal injury lawyer has navigated these legal waters many times and knows exactly how to negotiate with insurance companies, locate and interview witnesses, prove negligence, present medical evidence, and win settlements. Bringing an attorney on board signals that you are serious about receiving the compensation your injuries deserve.
Balance the Time Factor
You need time to heal from your physical injuries and recover from the emotional effects that accompany them. You need to put the trauma behind you and get on with your life. An experienced attorney can take all the cumbersome details of the case off your shoulders and conclude them quickly.
Ponder the Effects of Stress
Not only does a personal injury lawyer save you hours upon hours of time but also spares you debilitating stress from representing yourself. The attorney does not have the emotional involvement that causes you to relive the accidental injury with every witness you interview and each form you fill out. Since your lawyer knows exactly what steps to take and how to complete each one quickly, the mental pressure is far less. Instead of dreading each day of preparing your case and worrying about making a mistake or missing a deadline, you can relax and let your attorney handle everything.
Knowledgeable Representation Provides Peace of Mind
At the Law Offices of Brent D. George, we work hard so you can enjoy the confidence that your personal injury claim is secure. Hiring a dedicated, experienced personal injury lawyer goes far beyond financial advantages. It supplies the comfort of an advocate fighting for fair compensation for your injuries. Contact us today to arrange your free consultation or call (805)494-8400.