How does Lawfty evaluate personal injury attorneys?
We evaluate our Partner Firms for: communication, professionalism, availability, sincerity, approachability, and record of success. Only the firms that we feel are the best to handle your claim make the cut. Some of the metrics we look at to assess a firm's ability to handle your claim are: (a) average settlement value, (b) win rate, and (c) time from inquiry to settlement.
Is it worth getting a personal injury lawyer?
Yes. In our collective experience, an insurance company will not pay the full claim value to someone who is not represented by an attorney.
How do personal injury lawyers make money?
Personal injury attorneys work on contingency. This means that you do not pay anything upfront. The personal injury attorney only gets paid if they are able to recover you money. The contingency fee an attorney charges will vary by state, but here is a quick example. The most common contingency fee is 33.3%. If your case settles for $100,000, this means the attorney will get $33,333. You will get $66,666. Keep in mind that your piece of the recovery could be reduced if there are liens against your file (more on liens below).
How much is a personal injury claim worth?
Each claim is different and needs to be assessed on the facts specific to your case. The value of your case will depend on whether the other party is 100% at fault (or not) and the extent of your injuries. Injuries are tough to value immediately following an accident, as we don't yet know whether the injury you sustained will be temporary (lower settlement value) or permanent (higher settlement value). Regardless, the value of your claim will be directly tied to the treatment you receive, as this is how a lawyer proves that you were actually injured. If you were injured, it's imperative you seek the treatment you need. "Toughing it out" will only diminish the value of your claim.
How is a personal injury claim calculated?
A personal injury claim is valued based on the following factors: (a) Liability - Who was at fault for the accident; (b) Causation: Did the accident cause the injuries alleged; and (c) Injuries: What are the injuries sustained. Injuries can be physical, psychological, and/or economic. Proving your injuries will require proof of medical treatment and/or economic loss. If needed, your lawyer will retain experts to help prove your damages.
What falls under personal injury?
Personal injury claims generally involve bodily harm to an individual caused by someone else's negligence. The most common types of claims are: Auto accidents, injuries sustained on someone else's property (premises liability/slip and falls), dog bites, medical malpractice, workman's compensation, injuries from faulty products, and assault.
How often do personal injury claims go to court?
Not every case goes to court. In fact, the majority of cases will settle prior to a lawsuit ever being filed. Nailing down the exact percent is difficult, but based on our data approximately 70% of cases will settle before a lawsuit is filed. Of the 30-40% that get filed in court, nearly all will settle before going to trial. People don't realize this, but less than 5% of cases actually go to trial. The actual percentages noted above will vary based on the state where your accident occurred and the firm that handles your case.
How does personal injury settlement work?
A personal injury settlement is effectively a contract entered into between you and the defendant to settle the claims that you've brought against them. Per this contract, the defendant will pay you money in exchange for releasing them from any further lawsuits. When you enter a settlement agreement it's important you're comfortable with the amount recovered because in all likelihood this is the only opportunity you will have to bring your claim against the defendant. In other words, you will not be able to sue the defendant again for the same accident.
What is a serious personal injury?
Too often attorneys will exclusively define a "serious personal injury" as a claim involving catastrophic injuries. While claims of this nature are most definitely serious, they are not the only type of serious claims. In our opinion, if your life has been negatively impacted by your accident, it is a serious personal injury claim that deserves the full-throated attention of a quality personal injury lawyer.
How often should I hear from my attorney?
It's important to keep your expectations in check. Personal injury claims can take a long time to resolve. During the lifecycle of your case, there will be periods where you need to speak with your attorney often and there will be times when limited communication is enough. Regardless, your attorney should keep you updated as to what's happening with your case and whether increased or limited communication is necessary for the phase your case is currently in.
How long should a personal injury claim take?
Personal injury claims vary greatly in how long they take to resolve. This will depend on the facts of your case. Based on our data, cases can take anywhere from one to five years to settle with the average being two years.
Can I speed up the settlement time frame? I need money now.
Maybe. However, it will come at the expense of how much your lawyer can settle your case for. Insurance companies are always looking to settle cases on the cheap. If you have a good case, the insurance company will gladly settle for less than the case is worth. However, to get full settlement value your lawyer will need to gather all of the evidence and put every piece of your case together to get full value. This takes time and cannot be sped up. If you're in need of money, you should speak with your lawyer about the possibility of taking a loan against your case. This is very expensive money to borrow and should be considered carefully, but it may be better than settling your case for less than its worth.
Are all personal injury attorneys the same?
No. There are good attorneys and bad attorneys. There are attorneys that settle on the cheap and attorneys that look to get full value for every client. There are attorneys that like to handle a large volume of cases and attorneys that prefer only handling a few big cases.
Can't I just use an attorney that practices many different types of law?
In our opinion, this is a bad idea. While the legal profession doesn't technically have specialties, you're better off with an attorney that exclusively practices personal injury. We think this is akin to seeking medical help --> You wouldn't have a podiatrist perform plastic surgery, or trust a dermatologist to deliver your baby. Likewise, we think you'd be best served seeking assistance from an attorney that focuses almost exclusively on personal injury-related cases.
What are red flags when hiring a personal injury attorney?
You want a personal injury attorney that is going to be honest with you. It is a red flag if the attorney trying to sell you on their services promises a quick and/or large settlement. Neither of these can be promised with a great degree of certainty shortly following your accident.
Is it important to ask when was the last time an attorney tried a personal injury case?
Trial experience is important. There are a lot of attorneys that have never tried a case before a jury. The best firm for your claim will have attorneys that can argue your case before a jury if it becomes necessary.
I see a lot of attorneys on TV yelling and doing crazy antics. Is that what is necessary to get me the highest settlement amount?
There's an old law school saying: If the facts are on your side argue the facts. If the law is on your side argue the law. If neither is on your side yell until you get your way. You want a lawyer that is smart, thoughtful, and aggressive when necessary. Bluster alone will not win your case.
Can I switch lawyers?
Yes. You can switch lawyers. However, this becomes increasingly more difficult as your case gets older. If you're unhappy with your attorney, we suggest switching sooner rather than later. The reason it becomes more difficult is related to the fact personal injury attorneys work on contingency. If you switch attorneys, your prior attorney will have a lien against your case (which is for payment for services rendered). This means that the new attorney will have to pay them a piece of the legal fee if/when the case gets resolved. The more work an attorney puts in the greater the fee they will be entitled. The greater the fee your prior attorney is entitled to, the less money the new attorney can make. This will make a new attorney hesitant to take your case.
Can I borrow money while my case is pending?
This is a possibility. Whether you can get a loan will depend on the facts of your case. Most law firms have relationships with a lender that will make this type of loan. That said, be careful. Most of these lending companies charge anywhere between 2% to 3% per month (24% to 36% per year). At 36% per year, this means that a $10,000 loan will accrue more than $3,600 of interest in the first year. If your case is outstanding for a long time, this loan could significantly reduce the amount of money you're entitled to at settlement, as the loan company will be entitled to payment out of your settlement proceeds.
How would I know what to look for when hiring a personal injury lawyer? It's confusing!
Yes, this is why Lawfty was created. Our goal is to take the confusion out of this for you, so you can simply focus on getting well.
What is the difference between workman's comp and personal injury?
Workman's Compensation is a no-fault system governed by state law. It is an agreement between you and your employer that effectively states the following. Your employer will carry workman's compensation insurance that will compensate you for any injury you sustain at work. You can recover for injuries irrespective of fault. Whether you trip over your own two feet or get pushed by a fellow employee, work comp will cover your injuries. The catch is that you cannot sue your employer. Personal injury is a system that requires fault to be proven. Said another way, in order to recover for a personal injury you will need to prove that the person/entity that injured you was negligent. Generally speaking, personal injury claims are more valuable than work comp claims.
What is negligence?
Also known as tort law, negligence occurs when someone breaches a duty they have to you which causes you injuries. For example, someone driving a car has a duty to stop at a red light. If they breach that duty (i.e. blow the red light) and crash into your car they have committed an act of negligence.
Why do lawyers advertise so much?
Most people will never need a personal injury lawyer. By advertising, personal injury lawyers hope that when you do need their services you remember them. This is why personal injury attorneys have created jingles and outlandish commercials. They hope is that by being memorable, you'll call them over their competition.
What do I do after an accident?
Worry about your health first and hiring a lawyer second. Once you're okay and have gotten the medical help you need, we suggest calling an attorney sooner rather than later. Your attorney can advise you on the specifics of your matter, but generally speaking, we recommend taking pictures, identifying witnesses, and preserving any relent evidence.
How do I know if I have a case?
If someone else acted irresponsibly and you were injured as a result of their conduct, you may have a case and should speak with an attorney asap.
Do I have a case if I do not feel hurt?
If you were not injured in the accident, you will not have a case. However, not all injuries are immediately apparent following an accident. Some injuries can take time to develop and/or cause pain. We suggest speaking with an attorney if unsure whether you have a claim.
How long do I have to file a personal injury case?
Your time to file your personal injury claim will be determined by your state's Statute of Limitations. This is different by case type and state. If you wait to file your claim and the statute of limitations passes, you will be forever prevented from filing your claim. This is why it is so important to speak with an attorney immediately following your accident.
What do I do if an insurance adjuster calls me?
Do not speak with them. Tell them that you've retained an attorney (assuming you have) and refer them to your attorney's office.
What damages are available in a personal injury case?
You can recover for bodily injury, pain and suffering, wrongful death, emotional injuries, lost wages, property damage, and any other economic loss.
What if I had a pre-existing condition?
A pre-existing condition is a medical condition that existed prior to your accident. For example, let's say you had a herniated disk in your back prior to the accident. This would be a pre-existing injury. If that injury was made worse from the accident, you can recover for aggravating that injury but the initial cause will not be attributed to your case.
What if I was partly at fault for the accident?
This will depend on the state where the accident happened. In some states, you can be 49% at fault but still recover for your injuries. In other states, you will be precluded from recovery if you are 1% at fault. Your attorney will be able to answer this question immediately.
What is a release in a settlement?
A release in exchange for settlement is a contract that states you cannot sue the at-fault party again for the accident in which they are compensating you. In other words, you are releasing then from all liability - in exchange for money - for all injuries sustained from the accident in question.
How long will it take to get my check?
After your case settles, there are a number of things that need to happen before you get your check. You will have to sign a release in exchange for settlement. The defendant will then send the settlement proceeds to your attorney. Your attorney will hold the money in their trust account while they resolve all outstanding liens. A lien is any money owed to a third party that has a right to be reimbursed from the settlement proceeds. This can be medical providers, Medicare, Medicaid, loan companies, etc. Generally speaking, this process will take 30-90 days. If a minor is involved it could take longer, as court approval may be required.
How do I pay my medical bills until I get my settlement?
Talk to your attorney about options. There are a number of ways to navigate this. Most personal injury attorneys work with doctors that will treat you for free while your case progresses. The doctor will then take payment when your case gets resolved.
How do I make up for my lost wages until I get my settlement?
This is a tough situation. If you can't work because of your accident, discuss options with your attorney. Borrowing money against your case is one possible solution.
What if the accident happened on the job?
If the accident happened on the job, and the at-fault party is your employer, you should file a workman's compensation claim. If the accident happened at work, but the at-fault party is someone other than your employer, you may be able to file both a personal injury claim and seek workman's compensation.
Do I need a lawyer for a personal injury case?
We will argue that you do. You are welcome to represent yourself, but in our opinion, this is a foolish path forward.