If you’ve been in a car accident, it’s common to wonder what your next steps should be. Your car may be damaged or totalled, you may be dealing with an injury, and you may not be able to work. While you need compensation to help offset mounting bills, you may not think you can afford the cost of legal assistance.
For those seeking free legal advice, car accident lawyers usually work on a contingency fee basis. This means that they don’t require clients to pay them upfront. Instead, they’ll listen to the facts of your case and decide whether to accept it.
If they take your case, they’ll receive a percentage of any compensation that they obtain for you. If your case fails, there are no costs to you for your legal representation.
If you’ve recently been in a car accident, reach out to the skilled attorneys at Morgan & Morgan. We can provide you with the legal advice you need to determine your best course of action.
Contact us using our online form to schedule a free consultation today.
How Do I Choose a Lawyer to Help Me With My Car Accident Case?
When you’re seeking free legal advice, car accident attorneys with experience in motor vehicle accidents are the best place to turn. Ideally, they should be knowledgeable of the accident laws in your city and state.
They should also have a track record of securing settlements with insurance companies and people or entities responsible for other collisions.
While most cases involving car accidents don’t go to trial, there’s always the potential that yours might. Make sure your attorney has taken cases involving motor vehicle accidents to court before with successful results.
Other factors that may guide you in your decision for a car accident attorney include the following.
Good Communication Skills
You need someone who can articulate their understanding of the law for you. A good attorney should be able to ask the right questions to interpret the facts of your case.
They’ll be understanding and compassionate, while also determined to properly represent your case from a legal standpoint. You won’t be left hanging between appointments, either. They’ll keep you informed of updates as they occur.
Check Their Reputation
Before deciding on an attorney or law firm, make sure they are reputable. Do some research online to see what prior clients have said about them. Check with the Better Business Bureau to view their rating. You can also contact your state’s bar to determine if they have been subjected to any disciplinary actions.
Talk With Their Staff
An organized legal firm should have a knowledgeable team of paralegals and assistants. Often, these are the individuals who will be handling the footwork of your case. They’ll assemble your documentation and sort through checklists to ensure your lawyer has everything they need to represent you.
Staff members who seem disengaged or unhelpful can be a red flag that the firm isn’t serious about their clients.
How Do I Find a Lawyer Who Works on a Contingency Fee Basis?
Most lawyers who practice personal injury law work on a contingency fee basis. A contingency fee arrangement occurs when an attorney agrees to take on your case for free, with the expectation that they will collect a percentage or flat amount of any settlement that you receive.
Contingency fee percentages may vary upon certain factors, including the following.
Complexity of Your Case
If your car accident case is highly complex, the attorney may set a higher contingency fee. Highly complex cases can result when there is a lot of documentation to assemble or if the case is expected to last a long time.
While most car accident cases are settled quickly, occasionally they will go to court, resulting in additional time the lawyer must spend representing you.
If the attorney expects that your case will go to court before you receive compensation, they are likely to request a higher contingency fee. The higher fees will be used to cover costs such as hiring expert witnesses, court fees and discovery costs, and other overhead.
In some cases, an attorney will require you to cover these fees separately from their fee, and they will be deducted from any settlement that you receive.
Can Contingency Fees Vary?
In some cases, attorneys may not adopt the traditional contingency fee structure of charging a percentage of your settlement. There are two other main variations of the contingency fee, discussed below.
Contingency Hourly Arrangements
Under the contingency hourly arrangement, you do not pay your attorney until you receive a settlement. However, they will track the hours that they spend on your case. Once you settle your case, you’ll pay them an hourly fee based on their rate.
For example, if they spend 15 hours on your case and charge $150 per hour, you will pay the attorney $2,250 for their assistance.
Mixed Hourly Contingency Fee
The mixed hourly contingency fee involves paying part of your attorney’s hourly fee up-front, while the remainder is only due if you win your case.
For example, the attorney may charge you $50 per hour of their normal $150 charge. If you receive compensation for your claim, you’ll owe them the remaining $100 per hour for the time they spent working for you.
However, if your case fails, you won’t need to pay the attorney the difference between the normal rate and what you have already given them.
When Should I Contact an Attorney After a Car Accident?
Directly after a car accident, it’s likely that emotions are running high. You’ll need time to recover from the impact, and you may require medical treatment.
While some people choose to reach out to their lawyer in the immediate aftermath of a car wreck, others need time to process the event. They may also need to do some research to find a qualified attorney in their area.
When you’re searching for free legal advice, you’ll find that car accident attorneys usually work on a contingency fee basis and will advise you of your legal options.
It’s important to seek the services of a lawyer as soon as possible, especially in specific cases like the ones listed below.
You’ve Been Injured in the Wreck
If you’ve been physically injured in the wreck, you will need to seek the advice of an attorney. This is especially true in cases where your injuries are severe or may take a long time to heal.
A qualified attorney can give you the advice you need to pursue compensation for medical costs and lost wages.
There Was a Fatality
Any time a death occurs as the result of a car wreck, you should seek the advice of an attorney. If the wreck was your fault, you will need an attorney to defend you if you are sued for wrongful death or another claim.
On the other hand, if you pass away, an attorney can advise your loved ones how to proceed.
You Can’t Get Relief From Your Insurance Company
If your insurance company is hard to work with or refuses your claim, you’ll need legal assistance. In some cases, insurance adjusters may work for the benefit of their employer and not their clients. They may deny claims if they don’t receive all of the information required.
Worse, they may deliberately try to get you to admit fault for the accident or minimize your injuries. If any of these situations occur, it’s important not to pick up the phone when the adjuster calls and let your attorney handle the situation.