How to Afford a Lawyer After a Serious Accident
Written by AskTheLawyers.com™ on behalf of Gregory H. Herrman with Herrman & Herrman, P.L.L.C..
After a serious accident where one party’s negligence led to severe injury or death for someone else, calling a lawyer to discuss your options is a good idea. Some people might assume hiring an attorney is financially out of the question and don’t want to add hefty legal bills on top of what are often already hefty medical bills and wages lost due to the injury and recovery. However, the notion of heavy out-of-pocket legal costs after an accident is a common misconception. Most personal injury lawyers offer free consultations and even work on a contingency fee basis, which means clients usually don’t have to pay any out-of-pocket expenses.
An attorney should be able to assess the viability of your case in a free consultation.
Beware of personal injury attorneys who charge money for a consultation; most reputable personal injury lawyers offer consultations that are entirely free in order to get a better idea of the injured person’s case and options for recovery. In the initial consultation, an attorney may ask questions about the accident itself as well as how the accident has affected you and your family physically, financially, and emotionally. If an attorney doesn’t believe you have a viable case, they’ll let you know and might be able to direct you to other helpful resources. However, if an attorney suspects your claim may be viable, they can begin the process of collecting pertinent evidence and building your case.
Accidents fall into the realm of personal injury, where attorneys typically work on contingency.
Attorneys that work on a contingency fee basis typically pay all of the legal fees and expenses related to analyzing and collecting evidence upfront so the injured person and their family can focus on healing and recovery. This allows the accident victim to benefit from the experience of accident reconstruction and medical recovery experts without having to worry about how to pay those experts in addition to the ongoing medical bills. When a lawyer works on contingency, the lawyer only gets paid for their services if and when that lawyer wins their case. At that point, the attorney’s fees are typically paid out of whatever compensation is won in a successful verdict or settlement.
Compensation in an accident lawsuit could cover damages including but not limited to:
- Past, present, and future medical bills
- Lost wages (or impairment of earning capacity) as a result of hospital stay-time, or, for the loved one of an accident victim, the necessity to temporarily or permanently extricate themselves from work in order to provide care
- Lifecare expenses, such as life support or ongoing medical expenses for chronic injuries.
- Vocational rehabilitation
- Pain and suffering, for both emotional and physical distress
- Loss of consortium (the services of a close family member) and loss of care and companionship
- Wrongful death
- Funeral expenses
Depending on the severity of the damages, the value of the case may change. In many cases, an accident attorney may want the injured person to reach Maximum Medical Recovery or “MMR” before deciding on all of the damages that should be claimed in the lawsuit. However, recovery can take time, and evidence can easily be lost, destroyed, or manipulated during the recovery period. This is why accident attorneys recommend reaching out as soon as possible after an accident to make sure important evidence is collected and preserved as soon as possible, as well as to begin the filing process before the deadline or “statute of limitations” can apply.
To discuss your options for recovery after an accident, reach out to a personal injury attorney in your state for a free consultation and case assessment.