“I need a personal injury lawyer.” If you think you do, you probably do. In fact, you might need an injury lawyer even if you think you don’t. It is true that, under some circumstances, you can probably handle your claim without a lawyer. In most situations, however, you’re much better off with a lawyer than without one.
What a Lawyer Will Cost You: The Contingency Fee System
Under the contingency fee system, a personal injury lawyer will charge you somewhere around 30% to 40% of your total winnings as their legal fee. It doesn’t matter whether you win this amount in court or at the negotiating table.
That may sound like a lot, but if your lawyer doubles the value of your claim, you could still come out ahead. The reality is your lawyer might triple or even quadruple the value of your claim. It all depends on the facts of your case and the skill of your lawyer.
There Is No Conflict of Interest
Because of the contingency fee system, if you talk to a Fort Worth personal injury attorney, there is no economic incentive for them to “blow sunshine at you” and exaggerate your chances of winning your claim.
If they don’t like your claim, they will probably refuse to represent you. If they do take your claim, you can be reasonably certain that they are confident they can win. And, of course, if they win, you win too.
Is It Worth Hiring a Personal Injury Attorney? When You Might Get Away With Handling Your Own Claim
There are limited circumstances where you might be better off handling your own claim. Following are descriptions of a handful of these situations.
A “fender bender” is a car accident that generates no injuries and minimal property damage. Remember, even a scratch on an expensive automobile can cost hundreds of dollars to repair.
If all you’ve got is a minor scratch, however, you might be able to handle your claim with an insurance company on your own.
The Insurance Company Offers You Their Policy Limits
Suppose you file a third-party claim against the at-fault party in an accident for which the defendant is insured (probably a vehicle accident, but not necessarily). Further, suppose your damages are $100,000 and the defendant’s policy limits are $30,000, The company might offer you $30,000 if it believes you can easily prove that much in court.
In that case, it might be a waste of money to hire a lawyer to represent you. On the other hand, a skilled personal injury lawyer might be able to find a second defendant whom you could hold liable for the remaining $70,000.
You Feel Confident Handling a Relatively Small Claim
In Texas. the Texas Justice Court operates as a small claims court with a claim limit of $20,000. If your claim is within this limit, if you have a background in law, and if you feel comfortable negotiating a “small” claim with an insurance company, it might make sense to represent yourself. Resist the temptation to overestimate your abilities, however.
When You Should Hire a Fort Worth Personal Injury Lawyer
Following is an incomplete list of circumstances that increase the chances you will need to hire a personal injury attorney to adequately resolve your claim. Don’t try to represent yourself simply because you cannot find the circumstances of your case listed below. You might still need a lawyer.
You Have High Damages
The more money your claim is worth, the harder the other side will fight to avoid paying. The harder they fight, the more you need a lawyer.
More Than One Party Is at Fault for the Accident
Suppose you suffer a slip and fall accident. You were intoxicated at the time, but the defendant allowed grease to accumulate on their floor. How much compensation will you receive if you were partly but not fully at fault?
That depends. If you were 50% or less at fault, you will lose whatever percentage of your compensation represents your percentage of fault. If you were 15% at fault, for example, you will lose 15% of your compensation. If you were 51% or more at fault, however, you will receive nothing per state law. This is where the assistance of a skilled accident lawyer comes in.
You Have a Wrongful Death Claim
If you are filing a wrongful death lawsuit or a related survival action, you need a lawyer. These claims typically involve large amounts of money (the value of a human life). You certainly should not treat a wrongful death claim like a fender bender. Another complicating factor is that you are typically filing your claim on behalf of more than one person.
You Have High Non-Economic Damages
Non-economic damages compensate you for intangible harms such as pain and suffering, emotional distress, disfigurement, and more. The reason you need a lawyer under these circumstances is that it is difficult to put a number on noneconomic damages.
How much is your pain and suffering worth? Is it $10,000 or $100,000? A lawyer can help persuade the court that you deserve the latter of the two figures.
You Are Seeking Punitive Damages
Courts award punitive damages to personal injury victims to punish the defendant, not to compensate the victim. In fact, you can only win punitive damages if you also win compensatory (economic and noneconomic) damages.
You need a lawyer if you seek punitive damages because courts are notoriously reluctant to award punitive damages, even to winning parties.
Your Case Is Technically Complex
Some claims are scientifically complex. Remember, an elevated level of scientific complexity most likely means an elevated level of legal complexity. Claims for injuries arising from defective products are frequently complex, for example.
You Expect To Suffer a Long-Term Disability
If you expect to suffer from a long-term disability, you might need to claim damages for diminished earning capacity far into the future. Such claims are difficult to calculate and prove.
There Is an Alternative Defendant
You might seek compensation against an alternative defendant if you don’t believe the original defendant can pay your claim. You might file a claim against the at-fault party’s employer, for example.
Alternatively, you might use the Texas dram shop law to file a claim against a nightclub that sold alcohol to someone whose intoxication later injured you.
At the Least, Schedule a Free Initial Consultation With a Fort Worth Personal Injury Lawyer
You might not know right away how much your claim is worth. Your “minor” injury might blow up into something major. Your best bet is to seek a free initial consultation with a trusted Fort Worth personal injury attorney at (817) 839-3143. Who knows? Your claim might be worth more than you think it is.