After being injured in a car accident it is important that you speak to an attorney who takes the time to evaluate your case and walk you through the process. Being injured in an auto accident can be a confusing and stressful time. Hiring an attorney to help assist you with your case should help alleviate some of the stress. When speaking to an attorney regarding your car accident, he or she should be able to speak intelligently as to the type of compensation you may be entitled to receive from the at-fault party. However, the attorney will not be able to give you a proposed monetary number until he or she reviews the medical reports, the recommendations of the treating physician, and the policy limits of the at-fault driver. Once the attorney receives the medical records, he or she should keep you informed with the status of your case and advise you of the status of any demands that are submitted to the insurance company.
It is important to discuss the fee structure with your attorney, so that there are no surprises down the road. Typically, most personal injury attorneys receive 33 1/3 % to 40% of the settlement or judgment proceeds up to the first million dollars recovered. The percentage varies depending on whether the opposing party admits liability and at what point during pre-suit or litigation the case is resolved. While this fee structure is standard, as a client, it is important that you also understand that the attorneys will also be reimbursed for any costs that he or she expends. For example, if the attorney pays to receive a copy of your medical records, hire an expert witness, or pay a filing fee, these costs will be deducted from your proceeds.
Additionally, other companies may have a subrogation lien against your settlement proceeds. For example, in car accident cases, a chiropractor, doctor, health insurance provider, disability insurance provider, or other company may have a lien against the proceeds you receive from your settlement or judgment. These liens typically originate from a doctor or chiropractor who provided services to you or a third party company, such as a health or disability insurance company, that provided payments on your behalf. Your attorney must negotiate and pay off the outstanding liens as part of resolving your claim.
When considering whether to accept a settlement, you should always request a proposed settlement statement from your attorney, so that you can see the costs and subrogation liens that will be deducted from your settlement. This will allow you to see an estimate of the net proceeds that you are to receive. There is nothing worse than receiving an unexpected surprise at the end of your case.
Unfortunately, not all attorneys have the skills and experience to handle an auto accident case. Many attorneys do not actively litigate cases. Additionally, many attorneys may not have the resources to take a case to trial, as litigation can be expensive and time consuming. When seeking the best car accident attorney for your case, it is important that you ask whether the attorney is a litigator and whether he or she would be willing to take your case to trial, if necessary. While most cases are resolved prior litigation, typically, the client gets the best result when the insurance company knows that your attorney is willing and able to take the case to trial.
If an attorney makes any promises, it should always be a red flag to seek a second opinion. While an experienced attorney should be able to discuss the type of compensation that you may be entitled to receive, it is unethical for an attorney to guarantee a result to a prospective client. If an attorney makes a guarantee or promises that he or she will get you a certain amount of money, it should always be a red flag to seek a second opinion. Further, when selecting an attorney it is always important that you chose someone you feel comfortable with. Make sure he or she promptly returns phone calls, answers emails, and is willing to help guide you through this process. While being injured in a car accident is never a pleasant experience, having an experienced advocate by your side will help ensure that the process is as smooth as possible.