You’ve been injured near Sacramento, CA and you want compensation. But you’re concerned about the costs. A Sacramento personal injury attorney can charge from 33-40% of a final settlement in fees. You may be able to settle for as much as an attorney could get for you. So, should you have an attorney represent you? What are the pros and cons of getting a lawyer?
Personal Injury Lawyers are Specialists
The lawyer that you hire specializes in these types of cases. This is what they do every single day. For you, this is probably a once-in-a-lifetime event. The accident attorney you hire knows what to expect from the insurance adjuster, and they are used to negotiating with insurance companies, ensuring that you get the best possible settlement for your case.
Most Sacramento personal injury lawyers will offer a free consultation. You can share the details of your case with them during this consultation and get their opinion without making a commitment to move forward. During this meeting, be sure to ask any questions you may have and let them know if you are considering representing yourself. A good attorney will be able to quickly and easily give you the pros and cons for both scenarios, helping you make a decision that is in your best interest.
Time is Money for Your Lawyer
Since personal injury lawyers deduct their fees from the settlement, they are unlikely to accept your case if they aren’t confident they can win. If your attorney takes your case, you can consider that a good sign that you have a case that is likely to win.
Understand the Fee Structure
It is important before signing a retainer agreement that you understand how a personal injury lawyer’s fees work. The typical contingency fee structure means that the lawyer pays for everything up front. If he or she wins, the attorney fees and other costs will be deducted from the gross amount of your insurance settlement or court award. The good news is that if your case is not successful, you owe the lawyer nothing.
The attorney’s fee is for his or her time and expertise. Other costs can include filing fees, costs associated with depositions, the cost of copying documents, and any fees for expert testimony
But what about representing yourself? If your claim is small, and your injuries minor, making a few phone calls to the claims adjuster on your own may be enough. Adjusters follow a process outlined by the insurance company that employs them. If you’re a good negotiator, you should be able to reach a settlement yourself, maybe even for as much as a lawyer could get you.
However, you will have to do all the work yourself: compiling evidence like police reports, repair estimates, medical records, and so on. This will require time you could be spending on other important tasks. Additionally, be honest with yourself about your ability as a negotiator. The adjuster is trying for the lowest settlement payment, and you likely want the exact opposite: the most generous one.
Guidelines for Handling Your Own Claim
If your claim meets these criteria, you may well be able to represent yourself:
- Your injuries are clear and easily understood.
- Negligence is obvious.
- You are not permanently disabled.
- The costs of your injuries (lost wages, medical bills) are clear and easily understood.
- Your injuries are not related to past injuries or chronic conditions; they can only be explained by this incident.
Examples of case types you can handle yourself include slip-and-fall or car accidents, and minor injuries on publicly or privately owned property.
Cases You Should Never Handle Yourself
Retaining a lawyer really is the best course of action for some types of cases. These include class action lawsuits, medical malpractice cases, and cases involving toxic exposure. Also, if you’ve been served for any action other than small claims, you should contact an attorney immediately.