It shouldn't cost you anything to hire a personal injury attorney, not out of your pocket anyway. However, they're not free either.
Most personal injury lawyers charges what's called a contingency fee. That means that they're paid contingent upon getting you a settlement. When your personal injury case is settled and you are paid by the insurance company, your attorney gets a percentage of that settlement money.
Using a contingency fee is great because it saves you from having to spend cash up front, and it gives your lawyer the incentive to work towards getting you the biggest settlement.
How Much of the Settlement Does Your Lawyer Get?
The most common contingency fee charged by personal injury lawyers is one third, or 33.3%. That's the maximum allowed in most states. In some cases it may be possible to negotiate a lower contingency fee. The maximum fee is lower for settlement amounts over a million dollars.
Giving up a third of your personal injury settlement to a lawyer may seem like a lot to sacrifice. For sure, a third is not an inconsiderable amount of money, but getting an attorney to work for you without having to spend any of your own cash is worth it.
And having a qualified professional working on your case often means that the amount of money you recover is still greater than what you could have gotten on your own.
Additional Costs Deducted From Settlement
There are also some costs associated with negotiating a personal injury settlement that your attorney will likely cover while working on your case, and then deduct from the settlement. These costs could include:
- Medical documents
- Filing fees
- Court costs
- Expert witnesses
Settle or Sue?
It's usually better for both sides to settle a personal injury claim out of court than to file a lawsuit because going to court is expensive and time consuming.
Your attorney should submit a demand letter to the insurance company with documentation of your injuries and damages. The insurance company can pay what your attorney demands or make a counter offer. Negotiation between the parties is a big part of resolving a personal injury claim.
If the insurance company refuses to work with you, then a lawsuit may be the appropriate course of action, but that will be more expensive, and your attorney may take a bigger percentage of any settlement.
You can try to get a settlement from the insurance company on your own. But without prior experience, you may have a harder time getting the result you want. And working by yourself, you won't know if you're getting a fair result or not.
Having an experienced attorney representing you can help you tremendously, and as you can see, it doesn't have to cost you any of your own money. Before you hire anyone, do a little homework and make sure that they have experience getting the results you're looking for with their past clients.