A motor vehicle accident (MVA) can have disastrous effects on your job, family, and finances. Couple that with medical bills or deductibles, and you’ll soon find yourself in a mountain of potential debt. Making matters worse is the possibility that the auto insurance company you deal with will deny your claim. If this happens, you can either concede or fight. Should you choose the latter, it’s important to understand your options and how MVA lawsuits work.
Chances are you want your money as soon as possible, so it’s important to note the expected duration of an MVA case. You’ve probably seen dozens of personal injury commercials, in which the insurance companies agree to settle out of fear of Law Firm “XYZ.” However, this is nothing more than theatrics. The truth is that even the most seemingly clear-cut cases take time to handle. The average MVA lawsuit can last from two to three years, so you need to have some sort of financial backup plan until your case is over.
Hourly vs. Contingency
Personal injury lawyers typically use one of two payment options. The better choice depends on factors such as the claim amount, complexity of the case, and time spent resolving it.
The hourly option is fairly self-explanatory. Lawyers can charge between $200 and $300 an hour and invoice you for the time invested in the case. Once the claim is settled, you must pay all applicable fees and taxes to your attorney. Ideally, you want to reach a settlement without going to court, as the hourly rate often increases if your lawyer argues before a judge. If you choose to pay hourly, carefully consider the chances of winning and discuss the issue with the attorney. If you lose the case, you still have to pay the legal fees and potentially those of the defendant; however, if you win, the cost will be substantially lower than with contingency.
Contingency is a good choice for people who don’t have the means to pay a lawyer. The biggest benefit is that you essentially have nothing to lose. If your case fails to be settled in or out of court, you don’t have to pay a dime; however, if you win, not only does your attorney invoice you for any extra expenses incurred as part of the investigation — such as test fees, doctors’ files, or travel costs — but he or she will also get a sizable chunk of your settlement. You can expect to sacrifice 30 to 35 percent of your initial claim.
Settlement vs. Trial
Ideally, the case will be settled out of court. Aside from the reduced legal fees, avoiding a trial is more convenient and less time consuming. Your attorney will negotiate with the insurance company and keep you up to date with his or her progress.
If the insurance company refuses to settle the case, then your lawyer will take it before a court. You may or may not have to attend, depending on whether it’s deemed necessary. Aside from having to take the time to appear in court, you may be asked questions that are invasive; however, your attorney will brief you on the proceedings, telling you exactly what to expect and say.
Nobody wants to have to file a lawsuit, especially when it involves a severe injury. In a perfect society, insurance companies would process applications fairly. The reality is, the insurance industry — like any other business — exists to make money, not give it away. They will find every technicality possible to reduce or deny your claim. While legal action is long, difficult, and sometimes painful, the benefits will ultimately outweigh the costs.
Auto Accidents can present complex legal challenges which require specialized knowledge that the lawyers at the Richard Harris Law Firm can provide. Call for a no-cost consultation at 702-444-4444.