Personal injury cases are settled outside of court approximately 97-99% of the time. If a personal injury case goes all the way to trial, it can be costly, in the general range of $10,000 to $20,000. Sometimes even higher. Costs are driven by expert witnesses, like doctors, accident reconstructionist, or forensic accountants. Sometimes the cost is worth it, but sometimes the costs are going to be too much. You may need to get four to six times the offer out of a jury to walk away with the same amount of money that you would get if you settled earlier.
Also, there are no guarantees in a trial. As we’ve seen over the years in pop culture cases, juries decide a case in favor of the defense in a case we thought was a sure thing for the prosecution. By the same token, the reverse can be true where they find for our client when the defense thought it was a sure thing. It’s never a sure thing going to trial.
Hiring A Personal Injury Attorney
The main question most clients want to know is “What are your fees? What is it going to cost to have you handle my case?”
Personal injury attorneys handle cases on a contingency fee basis, meaning if we are unable to get a settlement, then you will not owe us anything. At Holland & Holland, our fees are 33% of the settlement, up to 40% if a lawsuit is filed. Some larger firms include a time stipulation with their fees. For example, fees are 33% if they’re able to settle a case within 100 days, if not it goes to 40%, and 50% if you file a lawsuit.
It’s nearly impossible to settle a case within 100 days, it can take a year, perhaps two or three, depending on the severity of the injury and the time it takes for our clients to complete treatment. Once we can gather the bills and records, we then draft the demand letter and get that to the insurance company. They usually respond within 30 days of receiving the letter.
This leads to the second question we hear is, “How long will this take?” This depends on the severity of the injuries. It could take four to six months, or it could take years. It could take longer if your injuries are severe or if you don’t respond to treatment and you’re referred to additional doctors.
Lastly, when interviewing a prospective attorney, I would ask about their level of access and communication. Ask, “If I want to get an appointment to see you, will I be able to or am I only going to talk to the assistant handling the claim?” At Holland & Holland, if someone calls and they want to talk to me, then they’re going to talk to me. That’s not to say that our assistants can’t help them with most anything on the claim, they can, but it’s a matter of accessibility. In our firm, we are accessible. With some big firms, you’re never going to talk to an attorney, and your point of contact will continuously change.
Client Concerns After A Wreck
The number one concern our clients generally have after a car accident is their vehicle. Will it be fixed or is it totaled? Unfortunately, the decision does not lie with the client, it lies with the insurance company. They can either total a vehicle or not total it, depending on how much damage. We’ve had numerous incidences where clients would like their vehicles totaled, but the insurance company says it can be fixed. On the other side, we’ve also had people who don’t want their cars totaled and the insurance company says it will cost too much to fix it, so it’s totaled. Unfortunately, this is all dependent on insurance company policies and we can’t do anything about it.
Clients are also concerned with getting better. They want to get back to where they were, physically, before they were injured. We tell them, “You focus on your recovery, and we will handle the rest.” They don’t want to deal with the insurance company, and I don’t blame them, but this is what we do every day. They are already busy enough with kids, work, school, etc. They don’t need the added stress of dealing with the insurance companies and going through a personal injury claim.
They may be concerned about how their doctors will get paid. Generally, it’s going to be through health insurance, or it will be handled on a lien, meaning they’ll get paid out of the settlement.
We offer them the peace of mind of just focusing on their everyday lives and healing, we handle everything with the claim and keep them informed as we move toward possible settlement.
For more information on Litigation of Personal Injury Cases in California, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (562) 600-0807 today.
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