You have been seriously injured and are ready to file a claim with the other party’s insurance company, or perhaps you are prepared to go to civil court.
While you know the other party is at fault, are you prepared to take on the numerous tasks of going to court, presenting your case, and negotiating a settlement with the insurance company? Most accident victims are still recovering from their injuries, and they may have long-term complications keeping them out of work. The last thing anyone wants to deal with after major surgery or in between daily physical therapy appointments is handling legal paperwork.
However, many plaintiffs assume that they can go at it alone. They use online websites and do-it-yourself forms, believing that they will save themselves thousands by cutting out the need to pay a contingency fee to an attorney. While there are resources online and you are not paying for a lawyer, you also could receive significantly less in compensation – or worse, have your case dismissed even though you had an excellent chance to receive compensation.
Regardless of how you might feel, there is no harm in meeting with an injury attorney to explore your options. While you wait for your consultation, consider things like the cost of an attorney and the benefits of hiring one; it might make those costs more than worth it.
How Much Does a Personal Injury Attorney in Danbury, CT, Cost?
Most accident attorneys work on a contingency basis. Instead of charging a flat fee or charging you by the hour, they use the contingency fee (percentage) to receive payment after you have received your settlement.
One significant benefit to working this way is that most attorneys will not receive payment unless they are successful in your case. Therefore, you do not pay your attorney unless you receive compensation. This takes the financial burden off of you and still ensures you get the legal help you need without added costs.
How Does the Contingency Fee Work?
Contingency fees are percentages. Meaning, the attorney takes a portion of your settlement as their fee, and the amount will vary by area and the attorney. Furthermore, all states impose rules for the contingency fee amounts an attorney can charge, ensuring that no attorney charges more than allowed.
Under Section 52-251c, attorneys working on a contingency fee basis in the state of Connecticut can only charge:
- 33.1% for the first $300,000 in compensation;
- 25% for the additional $300,000 in compensation;
- 25% for the additional $300,000 after the second;
- 15% of the next $300,000; and
- 10% of any amount that exceeds $1.2 million in compensation.
Some attorneys charge less than this amount, but most you will find charge the same and keep their contingency fees competitive.
You should consult with a few attorneys to get an idea of what they might charge for a contingency fee. Also, read the contract and contingency fee agreement carefully. Ensure what is covered in the contingency and if there are additional fees you might face.
Realize that contingency fee agreements are legally binding contracts. Therefore, once you sign it, you have hired your attorney and agreed to their fees. You cannot negotiate the cost after the fact, although you may try negotiating the fee before signing it.
If you have questions regarding the fee agreement, never hesitate to ask. An attorney should be more than willing to explain terms and discuss how their fees work so that there are no surprises when it comes time to receive your settlement check.
How Do I Pay for the Attorney?
Whether you settle with the defendant or you get an award through trial, the payment goes to your attorney, initially. Your attorney must then pay any applicable bills and outstanding liens that were placed while waiting for your case to resolve.
For example, any medical costs paid by your health insurance must be repaid to the insurer from your settlement check. Once your attorney pays those costs, they will then remove their percentage fee. The remaining balance is then paid to you.
While this sounds like you would be left with nothing, realize that your attorney ensures you receive enough compensation to cover:
- Past Medical Bills: Medical bills paid by yourself or an insurance company. Your attorney ensures that the settlement covers these costs.
- Future Medical Bills: Your attorney also seeks compensation based on future estimates for your medical expenses so that you have funds to cover these costs long after your lawsuit is finalized.
- Lost Wages: Wages you missed while you recovered from the injury and any wages you lose in the future (whether from permanent or partial disability) are also included in your settlement so that you can cover other living expenses.
- Pain and Suffering: In an injury claim, you receive compensation for your physical and emotional suffering. This is in addition to the other costs of your injury (e.g., hospital stays, surgeries, physician bills, and lost wages).
Is an Attorney Worth the Cost?
Now that you know how the attorney’s fee works, which is no at risk to you, you should consider what makes that cost worth it for you.
Yes, you could file a lawsuit and go to court. The judge would allow you to represent yourself as well. However, there are benefits to hiring an attorney that make the cost more than worth it.
Just some benefits to hiring an attorney include:
- Knowing how much your case is really worth. Do you know how much your case is worth or are you basing it off an assumption? As the victim, it is hard to step back and assess your injuries and overall expenses from a legal standpoint. While there are online calculators, these often undervalue a case. Instead, you want an attorney to not only look over the out-of-pocket costs, but also the extent of your injuries and assess the real value of your case. If you do not know how much your case is worth, you could walk away with much less than you deserve.
- An attorney keeps you from falling into the typical traps. A plaintiff is unaware of the proper procedures for filing a lawsuit. There are statutory deadlines you must follow and protocols the civil court expects you to perform. If you fail to take proper action within the timeframe allowed, you may have your case dismissed. Worse, you could fall out of the statute of limitations, which means you will no longer qualify for compensation. Other traps that might affect your case include deadlines. Even if you file the initial complaint in time, you must complete other steps within a specific number of days. Failing to do so could result in a dismissal of your case, and you would have to start the process over.
- An attorney knows the unique legal requirements. If your case involves medical malpractice, an attorney would know the proper procedures for handling situations like these, including what professionals you would need to testify on your behalf. Furthermore, if your case involves product liability, you would need an attorney that has experience handling strict liability laws, negotiating with major manufacturers, and has access to experts who can testify. The type of accident and injuries you suffer requires an intimate knowledge of the legal procedures in those types of cases, including those not written in a do-it-yourself handbook.
- An attorney has a team ready to help. When you hire an injury attorney, you are not just hiring that attorney. Instead, you are hiring a law firm. With that firm comes a team of experts ready to help you succeed in your case. This might include the attorney, junior associates, paralegals, secretaries, and private investigators. Therefore, while you are paying a contingency fee, you get the services of multiple industry professionals for that fee.
- Insurance companies are quicker to settle (and for the right amount) with an attorney. Most importantly, insurance companies will work with an attorney. They might give you the runaround, offer a low settlement, or try to push back dates as far as the law allows. Once an attorney gets involved, you might notice a new tone from the insurance claims adjuster. Because once a lawyer starts handling the case, insurance companies know that the stakes are higher for them – and the time to settle is now. Insurance companies have teams of lawyers, and they like to take advantage of the plaintiff representing themselves. When you bring an attorney to the table, you level the playing field and put the odds in your favor, once again.
- Your lawyer is your advocate, and they are motivated to help you succeed. Your lawyer is working on a contingency basis, which means if they do not recover compensation, they do not get paid. This is beneficial to you, because you have someone who is not only experienced, but motivated to deliver results.
- You have someone ready to go to trial if necessary. When the insurance company refuses to settle or continues to offer you less than you deserve, you have someone prepared to take the case from negotiations all the way to trial. An attorney shows insurance companies you are serious and makes them more likely to settle before trial for the amount you deserve.
Speak with an Injury Advocate Today to Explore Your Options
If you were seriously injured in an accident, you do have the right to consult with an attorney. Consultations are at no risk to you, and they are kept confidential.
Meet with an injury attorney from Berkowitz Hanna today to explore your options. Our team will meet with you to discuss your case and potential compensation. You can then decide if hiring an attorney is right for you. Review our verdicts and settlements for past cases to see the type of results we deliver for our clients.
To get started, contact Berkowitz Hanna now for a no-obligation consultation. Call or contact us online to get started.