Insurance companies love to say you only have a soft tissue injury! They try to make it sound like it’s not worth much money.
The fact is that some soft tissue injuries are not worth much money. If you have a sprain that goes away in a few days, it’s not worth much money and it’s not likely you will find a million dollar lawyer willing to take your case.
However, soft tissue injuries can easily be worth $1 million or more. Many soft tissue injuries require surgery and will result in serious permanent restrictions and mobility and substantial pain. These types of injuries usually get worse over time and can be severely debilitating later in life.
In my law practice, we have settled several soft tissue neck and back injuries for $1 million and more where surgery was required. In each of these cases, our clients even had previous existing injuries with a prior surgery. Our client was that the previous existing injury was made much worse.
Some of the types of soft tissue injuries that can result in settlements or verdicts of near $1 million or more are:
Torn ligaments of the neck, back, shoulder, wrist, knee or ankle
Technically, a concussion or hemorrhage/hematoma in the brain is a soft tissue injury which is usually worth $1 million or more.
If you have a soft tissue injury from an accident, don’t decide yourself whether it’s worth pursuing. Call a personal injury lawyer for a free consultation to find out if your soft tissue injury is worth pursuing.
How much time do you have to speak with a lawyer after you are injured an accident? Not as much time as you think. You may think that you have plenty of time to speak with a lawyer after your accident because the statute of limitations is a number of years. But that’s deceivingly not true.
The problem is that many people are familiar with the statute of limitations so they often wait thinking there’s still time and then find that it’s either too late or lawyers don’t want the case even if there still time.
Read further to find out why it’s important to speak with a personal injury lawyer immediately after your accident.
What is the statute of limitations?
The statute of limitations is the time within which a lawsuit must be filed.
Can you file a lawsuit after the statute of limitations has expired?
No. However, the question is when did the time start to run. You may think it began to run at the time of your accident but that may or may not be true. For instance, if the person injured is a minor than the time will begin to run when the injured person reaches the age of majority. In medical malpractice, it’s very complicated to determine when the time begins to run and it’s different in different states.
How long is the statute of limitations for personal injury and accidents?
The statute of limitations is different in different states. The statute of limitations is as short as one year in three states and six years in three other states but in most states the statute of limitations is two or three years.
Your lawyer may decide that a government entity needs to be sued. The statute of limitations against government entities is usually very short.
Why can’t I wait until just before the statute of limitations expires?
There are many problems that can occur if you wait to speak with a lawyer. Besides the statute of limitations, there are many shorter time limits to file various claims for benefits.
Some time limits are as short as days, not years
You may have some time limits as short as 30 days to file a claim. For instance, to get your medical bills paid and receive lost wages when you’re injured in a car accident in New York, you must file a no-fault claim within 30 days. An uninsured or underinsured claim may have to be filed within 90 days.
You may not be able to find an accident lawyer willing to take your case
You may have ruined your case
In the months that go by, you may have already ruined your case. There are a lot of ways that you can ruin your case from doing or saying things you should not have to not doing things you should have.
It may be too late to sue some defendants
If you call a lawyer months before the statute of limitations will run on your accident case, you may find that lawyers are not willing to take your case because they are worried about committing malpractice if they don’t sue a defendant that needed to be sued.
It may be difficult to determine all of the people, companies or government entities responsible that need to be sued. Often, a lawsuit is started and after depositions it’s determined that there is another person or company who needs to be sued. The problem is that it can take 6-24 months before depositions are conducted.
How long can I wait before calling an accident lawyer?
There is no way anyone can tell you how long you can wait but you should call a personal injury lawyer immediately after you are injured in an accident or as soon as you possibly can. There is no reason not to because personal injury lawyers give a free consultation and you have no obligation to hire the lawyer.
If you’re not sure whether you should call a personal injury lawyer either because your injury isn’t that serious or because you’re not the type of person to file a lawsuit, you should call immediately anyway.
If you don’t think your injury is serious enough, you might be wrong. Your injury may be worth a lot more than you think and your injury might get a lot worse as time goes by.
If you’re not the type of person that likes to file lawsuits, you should know that most personal injury clients are just like you. You might think that you’ll deal with your injury but you should know that injuries get much worse over time and by the time you’re in your 60s or 70s, previously minor injuries start getting serious. The majority of the money that you get with your lawsuit is not for your injury today but is for what will happen to you in the future.
Cellino & Barnes advertises they can get you x times more money from insurance than you can. But any million dollar trial lawyer can do that. How much more money can a lawyer get for your injury then you can’t get on your own?
According to the Insurance Research Council, if you have a lawyer the insurance company is likely to pay 3 1/2 times more money on average to settle your case. But that’s a national average for all lawyers. A good personal injury lawyer should be able to do much better. Call one of the Million Dollar Trial Lawyers™.
Hiring a Lawyer Can Get You 3 1/2 Times More Money!
The Insurance Research Council conducted expensive research studies to determine why accident victims call personal injury lawyers. Other facts revealed by the studies (available for purchase) are the following:
Reported in Injuries in Auto Accidents An Analysis of Auto Insurance Claims (Insurance Research Council study)
Claimants represented by an attorney “received more than 80% of the total dollars paid from BI coverage” (BI is Bodily Injury which is the liability coverage that pays personal injury victims)
Reported in Paying for Auto Injuries A Consumer Panel Survey of Auto Accident Victims (Insurance Research Council study)
“The most frequently cited reason for contacting a lawyer was to ensure the claim was handled in accordance with the law and that the claimant was legally protected”
“Was dissatisfied with delays in getting the claim settled”
“Was dissatisfied with the amount of money offered”
Also reported in the study is that just by speaking to a lawyer to learn your rights you can get you almost 40% more money than not talking to a lawyer. You can get a lot more by hiring a lawyer!
Just Speaking to a Lawyer Can Get You Almost 40% More Money!
Insurance Companies May Try to Get You to Take a Quick Settlement
Injured in an accident? You may be contacted by the insurance company for the person or company responsible for your injury. The insurance company will often ask you if you are thinking of filing a claim and may offer you money to settle.
You may be tempted to take a quick settlement. You may even think you’ll save the cost of hiring an accident lawyer. But unless you’re certain that you don’t have an injury, DO NOT settle your claim! Do not give a statement! Don’t explain why the accident wasn’t not your fault. Hang up the phone and call an accident lawyer immediately.
Personal injury lawyers give free consultations and do not charge a fee unless they get money for you. If you have been offered a settlement from an insurance company, before you even consider taking it, call a personal injury lawyer to find out what your case is worth and whether you should consider the settlement offer.
Insurance companies don’t want you to hire a personal injury attorney! They have all kinds of tactics to get you to settle before calling an accident lawyer. That’s because they’ll save a lot of money if you don’t call lawyer and it’s not because they’ll save a lot of money defending the case. It’s because they’ll save many times what they will pay you.
Allstate was criminally convicted twice for practicing law without a license when they sent letters to accident victims. The letter said you don’t need an accident lawyer because Allstate will treat you as a future potential customer and offer you a fair settlement. Apparently, the letter was so successful that after being criminally convicted, Allstate did it again and was convicted again!
Can You Get As Much Money without a Lawyer?
You can almost never get the same amount of money as a lawyer can unless you have a million-dollar injury and the insurance company policy is only $25,000. Even then, you should have a personal injury lawyer make sure there isn’t any other insurance or possible defendants to sue.
Even a personal injury lawyer can’t get as much money for himself or herself without hiring another personal injury attorney. Attorney Philip L. Franckel, Esq. has settled cases with a broken nose for $50,000 but couldn’t get more than $10,000 for his own broken nose. The insurance company knew he was trying to save the legal fee and just wouldn’t offer a fair settlement. He had to call a friend to represent him.
Abraham Lincoln knew! President Lincoln said, “He who represents himself has a fool for a client”
How Much More Money Can I Get?
As an example, New York personal injury lawyers, Franckel & Plevy, LLP who are Million Dollar Trial Lawyers™, obtained a jury verdict of $465,000 after trial for a knee injury when GEICO offered only $10,000 to settle.
In another example, New York motorcycle accident lawyers, Franckel & Plevy, LLP, obtained a jury verdict of $1 million for a head injury. The insurance company offered only $150,000. Their client tried to settle his case on his own but was unable to. If the insurance company had offered him $40,000, he probably would have taken it.
Will I Get More Than the Legal Fee?
Legal fees for personal injury cases are usually either 1/3, 40% or 50% depending upon the state where your accident occurred. But no matter how much your legal fee is, it’s obviously worth hiring a personal injury attorney when you can get several times more money with a personal injury lawyer.
It’s difficult for someone injured in an accident to decide which personal injury attorney to hire but there are some factors you can look at.
Hire a lawyer who does only personal injury
The most important is that you hire a lawyer who does only personal injury. Some law firms practice in different areas but the law firm should have a lawyer representing you who only does personal injury. Accident cases are too complicated for general practice lawyers who practice in many different areas.
How do you know if your lawyer does only accident cases?
Ask the lawyer what types of cases he or she works on and how many years of experience with personal injury?
Look at the lawyer’s website. The website will show you what areas of law the law firm is practicing. The law firm’s website will provide good clues to their proficiency in personal injury and accidents.
Another method is to look for law firms advertising for personal injury and accidents. Some lawyers claim that law firms which advertise don’t do trials and are just looking for a quick easy settlement. This is absolutely not true. In fact, some of the best personal injury law firms in the US advertise on TV.
Usually, law firms handle only the type of cases for which they are advertising. This is because advertising brings a lot of clients and it’s more efficient to handle only that type of case. Law firms with a practice in only one field are usually the only ones interested in advertising.
My law firm doesn’t advertise on TV but we advertise in a magazine and do marketing for accident cases by setting up a tent at events. It takes time to do marketing and even more time to handle the accident cases it brings. We also need time to stay on top of the continuous changes in the law. This requires us to represent only accident victims and to run an efficient law practice using personal injury case management software. We couldn’t possibly have the time to handle any type of case other than accidents.
Does certification mean that you should hire the lawyer?
Generally lawyers are not allowed to say that they specialize in a field such as personal injury. However, some states are now allowing lawyers to become certified in a field of practice such as a certified civil trial lawyer and can then advertise that they specialize in the field.
Unfortunately, certification does not really provide much useful information about the attorney’s training, experience and most importantly, talent. Certification just means that the lawyer went to school for, usually, another six months.
Most personal injury lawyers with a lot of experience will not walk away from their practice for six months of school just to get certified. They simply don’t need it. Newer lawyers who get certified after law school may have gone through more school for certification but may lack the experience you need.
We recommend looking at the experience of a lawyer. How many years has the lawyer been practicing in the field of personal injury? Does the lawyer only represent personal injury clients or does the lawyer handle other fields of law in addition to personal injury such as criminal, divorce, bankruptcy, etc?
Hiring a lawyer based on negotiating a lower legal fee
While most personal injury lawyers do not negotiate personal injury legal fees, I don’t recommend hiring a lawyer just because you found one who is willing to reduce his or her fee. If I offered a reduced fee, I would have to spend less time working on the case and/or communicating with my clients. Just like with everything else, usually, you get what you pay for.
If personal service is important to you, you may want a smaller law firm. However, the size of the law firm is not usually important to the outcome of your case. What’s important is that you can speak with someone when you have a question and that your calls are returned. Most attorneys and law firms are good at responding to new clients but how good are they responding to questions after you hired them? Check online reviews to find out what previous clients have to say.
You may find reviews on the law firm’s website and you can search on Google to find reviews at Google, Yelp and other places. Just search for “name of law firm” and “reviews”. Speak to your friends who may have used the lawyer to see if they’re happy.
Verdicts & Settlements
Most law firm websites post their largest verdicts and settlements but don’t bother with smaller ones. Don’t let examples of large verdicts and settlements on a law firm website scare you off because you don’t think you have a serious injury. Law firms advertising large verdicts and settlements are usually interested in much smaller cases and your injury may be worth much more than you think.
Look for an attorney or law firm which does only personal injury/accident cases;
Look at the attorney’s website;
Read online reviews; and
Hire an attorney who you like and think you can get along with.
The cost to hire an accident attorney is similar from state to state and from lawyer to lawyer. In every state, you can hire an accident attorney on a contingency fee basis. The differences include the percentage of the contingency fee and how the case expenses are charged.
What is a Contingency Fee?
A contingency fee is a legal fee based upon a contingent event. When HURT in an accident, the contingent event is whether the lawyer gets money for you or not. If your attorney successfully obtains money for you, the contingency is met and the legal fee becomes due. If your attorney is not successful and does not get money for you, the contingency is not reached and you will not be charged.
There are many reasons why it may not be possible to get money for you. As an example, your attorney may find that there is no insurance coverage to pay for your injuries; your attorney may find that there is no one who can be considered negligent for having caused your injury; or your attorney may have thought that your injury could become serious but later find that your injury resolved or is not serious enough for your attorney to pursue a claim.
Contingency fee percentage rates vary from state to state and from lawyer to lawyer. Some states do not allow lawyers to charge more than one third (33.333%) and some states have higher limits while some states do not have any limits. Some states allow different percentages depending upon whether your case is settled before filing a lawsuit or after. For instance, one third if settled before filing a lawsuit or 40% after filing a lawsuit. Attorneys in some states charge 50%.
Almost every accident attorney represents accident victims on a contingency fee basis. If you call a lawyer who wants to charge an hourly fee or an upfront fee to represent you for injuries in an accident, call another lawyer.
Can I negotiate the contingency fee for my accident case?
It’s difficult to find a personal injury lawyer willing to negotiate a lower percentage and most lawyers will not reduce their fee. You will be less likely to negotiate a lower fee in a state that limits legal fees to one third. You will also be less likely to negotiate a lower fee if your case is not simple and easy.
Because lawyers usually have to do a lot of work for a long time and advance case expenses, lawyers are reluctant to charge less. I personally have never agreed to reduce my legal fee even for easy cases because I provide personal service and my full time and attention to every client. Although it’s not supposed to happen, negotiating a lower percentage could possibly provide an incentive for your lawyer to obtain a quick settlement even if it’s lower.
What Expenses Are There For an Accident Case?
Following are general examples of personal injury case expenses (every case is different):
Investigation of the accident can range from just a few dollars to a few hundred dollars and even over $1000.
Medical records and reports can range from as little as $25 to many hundreds of dollars.
Court costs and other court related expenses can range from $200+ to $500.
Depositions of the plaintiff and defendant usually cost approx $500.
A deposition of your doctor can cost approx $2,500 for your doctor’s fee plus the court reporter’s fee and videographer’s fee if videotaped.
Trial expenses are usually in the range from $10,000-$50,000
When do I have to pay for case expenses?
You should pay all personal injury case expenses out of your settlement at the end of your case. When calling an accident attorney, should ask if the attorney will advance case expenses or if you will be responsible to advance any case expenses. It’s rare that a personal injury lawyer will require a client to advance case expenses but unless there is some benefit to you, you should not advance case expenses. As can be seen above, case expenses can be quite expensive and it’s best to make sure your lawyer will advance case expenses.
While case expenses are usually charged at the end of your case, the case expenses and legal fees may be computed differently. Case expenses may be charged off the top of your personal injury settlement with legal fees computed on the net balance or the legal fees may be computed as a percentage of the gross settlement and then returning the case expenses to the lawyer.
I have seen advice on the Internet to request that your lawyer set a spending limit warning requiring the lawyer to contact you when expenses hit $1,000.00. I think this is terrible advice and I would personally refuse to represent anyone who would require that. I would not want a client jeopardizing their case because they refuse to let me spend money on unnecessary case expenses. Your lawyer knows best what expenses are necessary to make sure your case is successful and to maximize its settlement value. Your lawyer does not have an incentive to pay and risk their money for unnecessary case expenses.
What Happens If I Lose My Case or My Lawyer Doesn’t Want to Continue?
Usually, your attorney takes the risk for both legal fees and case expenses when a contingency fee is used. This means that you will not be responsible either for legal fees or case expenses. This assumes that you signed a retainer providing a contingency fee with the lawyer advancing case expenses. Make sure that your retainer says that you are not responsible for legal fees or her case expenses if you do not receive any money.
According to the Department of Justice Bureau of Justice Statistics, one third of personal injury cases lose. Because accident lawyers take the risk; advance case expenses without charging interest; work many hours on your accident case; and wait several years to get paid while rent and office overhead must be paid monthly, you should now be able to understand why accident attorneys charge a high percentage legal fee to represent you for injuries sustained in an accident.
If your personal injury lawyer doesn’t want to continue with your case, you should look for another personal injury attorney. If your new lawyer charges the same legal fee as your previous lawyer, you should not have to pay any additional legal fees or case expenses. Your new personal injury attorney will pay your previous attorney for the case expenses and you should pay for the case expenses at the end of your personal injury case.