It’s perfectly normal if you’re reluctant to hire a lawyer. A lot of people find the prospect intimidating or even downright scary.
Does hiring an injury attorney mean you have to accept that the auto accident was serious, and that you won’t be “bouncing back” right away?
Does the possibility make you think of dramatic trials you’ve seen on television, imagining a future where you have to discuss private, potentially embarrassing details of your life and health in front of a courtroom full of strangers?
Does pursuing an auto accident lawsuit mean risking your own money at a time when times are already tough?
Let me put your mind at ease.
For many people, hiring a lawyer after a car accident is like having a safety net. You may hope you don’t need to use this resource – just like an insurance policy or an emergency savings account – but you make the wise move to have it lined up, just in case. (Except that, unlike an insurance policy or emergency fund, having this safety net in place won’t cost you anything.)
The reality is that there are some injuries no one can just “bounce back” from. That’s true whether or not you hire an injury attorney and pursue a car accident claim.
It’s also true that, in these instances of serious injuries, your chances of getting better are, unfortunately, tied to your means to pay for the best treatment available. That’s precisely why you need to get every dollar of compensation you are entitled to as a result of the car crash.
Will I Have to Go to a Trial Like You See on TV?
If your only experience with the courtroom is through the trials that appear on television and in movies, it’s no wonder that you are hesitant to put yourself and your family through this ordeal. Trials seem chaotic, risky, and nerve-wracking.
Here’s a secret many people don’t know: car accident attorneys don’t want your case to go to trial either – if we can help it.
Why? For one thing, taking a case all the way to trial means more expenses, which means you ultimately keep less of the money we get for you. A trial can be time-consuming and emotionally difficult for our clients, and it’s not something we would choose for you to go through unnecessarily. And, of course, there’s more risk involved in a trial than a settlement negotiation. If you lose the trial, you could walk away with nothing.
Fortunately, trials are far from inevitable for most personal injury claims. Historically, 95 percent of personal injury claims have settled out of court, never proceeding to a full trial. The odds are good that, even if you choose to pursue a car accident lawsuit, a trial probably isn’t in your future.
For the fraction of personal injury lawsuits that do end in a trial, the good news is that, at least statistically, you are more likely to win the case than to lose. The majority of plaintiffs in automobile accident cases – 57 percent – prevail over the defendants they sue, according to the federal Bureau of Justice Statistics.
Keep in mind, too, that it isn’t purely a matter of statistics. Your attorney will only recommend taking a case to trial if the benefits of doing so outweigh the risks. If, for example, the defendant’s insurance company refuses to settle your case for a reasonable amount and the evidence in your favor is strong, going to trial may be the only way to get you the money you truly deserve.
Even if an attorney doesn’t expect your case to go to trial, he or she should be preparing your case as if for a trial from day one.
Is a Lawsuit Going to Cost Money?
The reality is that pursuing justice isn’t free. Court filing fees, the written opinions or courtroom testimony of expert witnesses in accident reconstruction, and other legal expenses can cost thousands of dollars, all before you see a single penny of compensation.
If you had to pay this money upfront, it might be enough to stop you from ever getting the full amount of compensation you deserve. You’re already racking up the medical expenses, and with an injury as serious as yours, there’s a good chance you’re going to miss work for a while.
Car accident attorneys who work on a contingency basis advance thousands of dollars in costs for each of their clients’ claims – and, for cases that are far into the litigation phase, up to tens of thousands of dollars. Fortunately, this means you never have to worry about coming up with the money for these expenses. Your attorney will advance every cost of pursuing your claim, and in most cases if they don’t win money for you, you never have to pay them back.