Did you know that accidental injury recently became the third most common cause of death in the United States? In fact, every three minutes someone in this country dies as the result of a preventable accident such as a vehicular accident, a slip and fall accident, a workplace injury, a drug overdose, or a drowning.
Even non-fatal incidents take their toll. Estimates tell us that there is one preventable accident every second in the United States. Of course, plenty of accidents are due to sheer chance or our own poor decisions. If you have an injury as the result of someone else’s negligence, however, you may be curious about whether to take legal action.
Do you have questions about what constitutes a personal injury claim, personal injury lawyer fees, the timeline for settling a case, or whether you will have to go to court? Read on for some answers!
First, What Is Personal Injury Law?
Unless you have been in a workplace accident, been the victim of medical malpractice, or suffered injuries due to a trucking accident, your only knowledge of personal injury lawyers may be those pervasive radio jingles or giant billboard advertisements.
Personal injury law, also known as tort law, is a broad category of the legal industry. It often, but not exclusively, deals with accidents or injuries resulting from negligence. Negligence occurs when a person or entity owes a duty of care but fails to take the proper steps to ensure that they fulfill their duty.
A few examples of personal injury cases are:
- Animal bites
- Premises security
- Elder abuse or neglect
- Medical malpractice
- Construction accidents
- Vehicular accidents
- Defective products
Many people don’t realize that personal injury cases may also involve intentional harm. For example, assault and battery can be a personal injury and made the basis of a civil lawsuit, in addition to prosecution as a criminal charge.
Settlement vs. Trial
You may be reluctant to take another person, or a company, to court. That’s understandable; court cases can drag on for years, be stressful, and cost a lot of money in personal injury lawyer fees.
Fortunately, most personal injury cases don’t ever make it to trial. A settlement is almost always a better and less expensive option for all parties concerned.
Approximately 95% of tort cases get settled out of court. When choosing an attorney to handle your personal injury case, you will want to find one experienced in negotiating with insurance companies, but also prepared to fight for you in the courtroom if it comes to that.
Damages and Compensation
Recovering from an accident can be an expensive proposition. There will be medical expenses, of course, and if you are unable to work because of your injuries, then you will suffer a loss of income, as well.
The damages don’t end there, however. Some injuries can have lasting effects that can compromise your ability to earn money in the future. You may not enjoy your hobbies, activities, or spending time with family the way you once did. Add into that the pain and suffering you have experienced and could continue to experience.
If your spouse, parent, child, or other loved one has lost their life in an accident, you might be entitled to loss of companionship or loss of consortium. Wrongful death is a major subset of personal injury law.
It may seem cold to put a dollar amount on a person’s health, emotions, or even life that way, but you deserve compensation for what you have lost. This is especially true if your losses are the direct or indirect result of someone else’s negligence.
Remember that there is a reason that doctors, construction companies, trucking companies, and other professionals pay exorbitant insurance fees.
Personal Injury Lawyer Fees
What about the legal fees and costs? It’s going to be expensive to hire a good lawyer to fight your case, no matter where that battle occurs, isn’t it?
We’ll talk about the costs of your case in a minute, but before that, we need to discuss the lawyer’s fees. (Yes, “costs” and “fees” are different.) You see, personal injury attorneys charge their clients differently than other types of attorneys. You might pay a lawyer a flat fee to look over a contract or pay them a certain dollar amount per hour to defend you from criminal charges.
When it comes to personal injury cases, attorneys get paid on a contingency basis. This is a percentage of the settlement or award amount that the plaintiff receives. The good news is that you don’t have to pay any of that out of pocket or upfront. The fees for your attorney will come out of your settlement amount, so you never even have to worry about paying the law firm.
Costs of a Personal Injury Lawsuit
You will also need to consider the costs of your lawsuit. All tort cases will incur some expenses. These could include expert witness fees, investigation and research costs, and administrative costs such as postage, photocopying and so on.
Naturally, these costs will be minimal if your case is straightforward and doesn’t take long to resolve. The longer it takes to litigate your case, the higher such costs will go. However, it’s unlikely that they will total much more than a few thousand dollars, all told. And it’s quite possible that the law firm you work with will advance you these costs, as well as the lawyers’ fees.
When you are consulting with prospective personal injury attorneys, be sure to inquire about their fee structure and whether you will have to pay any amount upfront.
Final Thoughts About Personal Injury Lawyer Fees
Being involved in an accident — or losing a loved one due to negligence — can take a devastating toll on your life. The last thing you should have to worry about during this trying time is how to pay personal injury lawyer fees.
We’re here to help. Contact us for a no-cost, no-obligation consultation to find out if our services are the right choice for your situation.
Firm founder Michael Jeffcoat takes pride in having built a law firm that embodies his commitment to helping people who have been injured or wronged. After receiving a B.A. degree in Political Economy and Philosophy at Wofford College in 1994, Jeffcoat went straight to the University of South Carolina School of Law. While there, in addition to his studies, he participated in Moot Court, the University’s trial competition, clerked in two U.S. Attorney’s Offices (Columbia and Seattle) and also the South Carolina Attorney General’s Office. Mr. Jeffcoat completed his Juris Doctor degree in 1997.