It's a perfectly acceptable procedure to dispute any insurance claims on your own accord. With the promise of a no-win, no-fee agreement, many people are lured into the idea of using a lawyer to carry out this process for them.
While this may seem like a great deal from the outset, does hiring a car accident lawyer on a contingency basis really provide a financially rewarding agreement?
Exploring the fee
While an attorney will not receive any money from a failed case, they're often unlikely to take up the challenge of a lawsuit which has an excessive risk of collapsing. When victory is achieved, however, a pre-arranged percentage of the awarded money will be taken by the law firm as their fee.
There is no set standard for the size of this percentage, although the fee generally falls within the parameters of 25% - 40% of the awarded sum. Beyond this, it's normal for the fee to be based around a sliding scale, determined by which stage of the legal process the complaint is at when it's settled. Therefore, a quick settlement on the production of a demand letter will incur a smaller percentage contingency fee than a case which proceeds through discovery, settlement and into a court of law to stand trial.
Hidden in the fine-print
One important factor to be aware of when hiring an attorney on a contingency basis lies within the small-print of your contract. Some agreements will stipulate that additional costs incurred by the law firm, will not be included in the recognized contingency fee.
The result of which means that upon winning a settlement, the firm will command both their contingency fee and an extra amount for charges which could include:
- Travel expenses
- Photocopying documents
- Expert testimonials
- Filing fees
- Court reporter fees
- Overtime hours
While many of these charges may at first appear to be of little significance, they can quickly amass to reduce the amount of money you will be left with. Furthermore, some contracts will state that these charges are due to be paid by you irrespective of whether the case is won or lost.
The extra value of a lawyer
There's a high probability that even the best lawyer will not be able to significantly boost any financial reward from minor accidents involving minimal amounts of damage and negligible injuries. In a more serious case, however, it will be greatly beneficial to have a professional legal advisor negotiating a settlement for you.
As such, there's an escalation between tackling the case yourself and using mediation, arbitration, and finally hiring an experienced lawyer.
If you've been unfortunate enough to suffer a serious accident, you should consult with an experienced attorney who specializes in car accidents and personal injury cases to receive an honest opinion of how much they believe your case is worth both to you and themselves.
Likewise, if you've already received an offer for a settlement, a trustworthy lawyer will provide an honest opinion of the extra value they believe they can provide.
This being the case, it's in your very best interests to find a trustworthy lawyer.