Why Pay for a Lawyer?

June 1, 2024 | David Abels
Why Pay for a Lawyer?

You pay for a lawyer so they can secure fair compensation for an injury, illness, or the loss of a loved one. You will not have to pay your lawyer directly, either. Because personal injury attorneys use contingency fees, they don’t ask for any upfront compensation from you (or any other client).

For most clients, the cost of paying for a lawyer generally pays for itself. Your attorney will receive a percentage of any compensation they secure for you. Otherwise, they don’t get paid at all. This means you won’t directly pay for the lawyer but will only grant them a fair portion of your financial recovery.

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Reasons You Might Hire a Personal Injury Lawyer

People hire lawyers for many reasons, but personal injury lawyers serve a specific purpose.

You might hire a personal injury attorney if:

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  • You got injured: Injuries are one of the most common reasons why clients hire personal injury attorneys. Injuries themselves can cause significant pain and can also contribute to financial losses and psychological problems.
  • You got sick: Illnesses can result from exposure to toxic substances or environments that nobody warned you about.
  • You lost a loved one: Personal injury lawyers handle wrongful death cases for clients who tragically lost loved ones.

If you suffered these or other harmful outcomes and believe someone else caused the harm, you may have a reason to hire a lawyer.

Specific Case Types Lawyers Handle

Personal injury attorneys handle many different case types, including:

These cases often involve one party acting in a negligent manner harms another. Whether or not your circumstances involve one of these case types, speak with a personal injury lawyer to determine if you have a viable case.

How Do I Know if I Have a Case for a Lawyer to Handle?

The surest way to know if you have a case is to speak with a law firm. They will discuss your circumstances and explain if you can pursue an insurance claim or lawsuit.

Most personal injury and wrongful death cases rest on negligence.

A negligent person:

  • Has a duty of care: A duty of care means someone must take reasonable steps to protect others. A lawyer, judge, jury, or other party of influence can determine if someone has a duty of care.
  • Violates their duty of care: Someone violates their duty of care when they don’t act reasonably. One example is a motorist who texts while driving, an act that qualifies as unreasonable.
  • Causes harm: If a distracted motorist strikes another motorist and causes injury, their breach of duty of care causes harm.

Attorneys prove these points in every case they handle. Your lawyer will also explain the damages that have resulted from the liable parties’ violation of their duty of care.

What a Lawyer Does in Exchange for Their Fee

Even though you pay no upfront cost for a lawyer, they will still receive a fee if successful in leading your case. A lawyer does much to earn that fee, often including:

Handling Communications, Paperwork, and Other Case Details

Your lawyer will stand up for you throughout the case.

They will:

  • Determine the appropriate course of action for seeking fair compensation
  • Draft all legal paperwork
  • File all paperwork on time
  • Speak with insurance companies and other parties involved in the case
  • Manage every other detail of your claim or lawsuit

It takes a skilled, detail-oriented person (or team) to handle claims and lawsuits successfully. Attorneys handle such responsibilities daily, giving them much-needed experience that may benefit your case.

Establishing Liability for the Client’s Damages

Your lawyer will identify the parties who are at fault and liable for your damages. Often, the at-fault and liable parties are the same. However, as one example, you can hold an employer financially liable when their employee injures you in an auto accident.

Building a Case Around Compelling Evidence

Lawyers build winning cases upon solid evidence, which can include:

  • Witness testimony detailing how the plaintiff came to be injured
  • Video footage of an auto accident, animal attack, or other event that caused the plaintiff harm
  • Expert testimony about who is responsible for the plaintiff’s injuries, illness, or wrongful death
  • Photographs of scenes related to the case
  • Experts’ reconstructions of harmful events, like an auto collision

Your lawyer will prioritize gathering evidence. They may even file a letter of spoliation, which requires certain parties (like a liable trucking company) to turn over evidence.

Documenting the Client’s Damages

Your attorney may prove your damages using:

  • Medical images
  • Medical records
  • Medical bills
  • A doctor’s diagnosis of injuries or illness
  • The plaintiff’s past income statements to prove income lost due to negligence
  • A mental health service provider’s diagnosis of your pain and suffering

Your lawyer will secure any documentation that proves the harm caused by the defendant’s negligence.

Calculating the Value of the Case

Attorneys determine case values by considering present and future damages.

The two primary categories of damages are:

  • Economic damages: These damages generally have a certain economic value, with medical bills, vehicle repairs, and lost income being examples.
  • Non-economic damages: The costs of these damages are unclear, and pain and suffering is the primary non-economic damage.

Your lawyer will use court-recognized methods to calculate these damages. They will work to secure a fair settlement offer or convince a jury to pay the damages you deserve.

Negotiating a Settlement

Settlements resolve most personal injury and wrongful death cases. An attorney with years of experience will have negotiated many settlements, making them qualified to negotiate on your behalf.

Representing the Client in Trial, if Necessary

Taking cases to trial is relatively rare, but an essential option for personal injury attorneys.

The ability to take your case to trial means:

  • Your attorney has a clear alternative if liable parties do not offer a fair settlement.
  • Your attorney may have leverage during negotiations, as insurers know they can lose more at trial than if offered a fair settlement.
  • Your lawyer can ask a jury to pay you the compensation you deserve.

Those who don’t hire lawyers may have little leverage when seeking fair compensation from an insurance company or another liable party.

Your Financial Recovery Should Cover the Cost of Your Damages (Including These)

If you hire a lawyer, it signals your intent to obtain a financial recovery. It means you almost certainly have multiple recoverable damages from someone’s negligence.

Some common types of recoverable damages in personal injury cases include:

  • Pain and suffering: Those who suffer an injury or are sick may lose physical and cognitive abilities, experience physical pain, lose quality of life, have difficulty sleeping, and suffer several other forms of pain and suffering.
  • Medical expenses: Lawyers secure direct proof of clients’ medical diagnoses and services. This includes medical bills detailing the cost of any injury or illness.
  • Professional damages: Some common professional damages in personal injury cases include lost income, diminished earning power, lost bonuses, and lost promotion opportunities. In some cases, the client is disabled and unable to earn a living for the remainder of their life.
  • Psychological and emotional treatment: When clients need counseling, medication, or other mental health services, their attorney can include their care expenses in their lawsuit.
  • Property expenses: In cases like car accident collision lawsuits, clients often have property costs that entitle them to compensation. It can include the cost of repairing a vehicle or purchasing medical equipment.

Those who are disabled may experience additional harm. Wheelchairs, long-term rehabilitation, and the permanent loss of income are among those harms. Your attorney will consider the full scope of your damages when negotiating for you.

Recoverable Damages in Wrongful Death Cases

Personal injury lawyers lead wrongful death cases.

These cases often involve:

  • Substantial pain and suffering, including grief
  • Funeral costs
  • Burial costs
  • Loss of the decedent’s income
  • Loss of consortium

Losing a loved one in a traumatic way exposes you to a high risk of PTSD. Your attorney will involve qualified experts to diagnose your damages and establish a case value properly.

A Lawyer Allows You to Focus on Your Recovery Needs

There are endless benefits to hiring a lawyer.

A personal injury attorney should:

  • Allow you to spend the necessary time with doctors and other care providers
  • Give you a greater ability to focus on your health
  • Spare you stress that can result from handling an insurance claim or lawsuit
  • Provide you with an experienced advisor to answer your questions and guide you through your claim or lawsuit

As part of the contingency fee arrangement, your law firm will also cover the cost of your case. They may hire multiple experts at no direct cost to you.

When Should I Hire a Lawyer?

You should hire your personal injury attorney as soon as possible.

Your attorney will need to:

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  • Report your injuries right away: Whether you seek money through an insurance claim or lawsuit, it is critical to report and document your injury or illness right away. If not, you may face allegations that your injuries happened before the event(s) for which you are seeking compensation. Your attorney will protect you from this tactic.
  • File your case before the statute of limitations expires: Most personal injury and wrongful death cases are subject to a statute of limitations. Your lawyer will prepare, draft, and file your case before the filing deadlines expire.
  • Obtain evidence: Much evidence is only available for a limited period. For instance, a lawyer might question the reliability of a witness account if nobody recorded it as soon as possible.
  • Document your damages: Document the harm you have suffered as soon as possible, including injuries. The sooner you retain your lawyer, the more extensively they can document injuries and related damages.

Research law firms serving your area and compare their qualifications to lead your case. However, you should not wait to complete this search. Make retaining a lawyer an urgent priority.

What If I Was Injured Long Ago?

Even if your injury, illness, or a loved one’s wrongful death happened a year or more ago, you may still seek compensation for your damages.

You may:

  • Still, have time before the statute of limitations expires
  • Have a case that is an exception to the statute of limitations
  • Face other circumstances that mean your case is still eligible

There is no downside to hiring a lawyer. Attorneys offer free consultations; you aren’t obligated to hire a firm merely because you speak with them. Find law firms in your area and talk with them about seeking compensation for your damages.

What Injury Lawyer Should I Hire?

You should hire a lawyer who:

  • Serves your geographical area
  • Has largely (if not overwhelmingly) positive feedback from former clients
  • Focuses on the practice area you need legal services for (like medical malpractice or car accidents)
  • Has impressive case results
  • Makes you feel important during your free consultation

Reading client reviews can help evaluate prospective law firms. Most clients honestly discuss their experience with a firm, including any issues they experience.

Complete your free consultations today to find the right law firm for you. You risk nothing to meet with an attorney or even hire them to begin work on your case, so never wait to start protecting your rights.

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David Abels

Partner

David Abels has carved a niche for himself in the personal injury law sector, dedicating a substantial part of his career since 1997 to representing victims of various accidents. With a law practice that spans over two decades, his expertise has been consistently recognized within the legal community.

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