You were injured in an accident or another incident because of someone else's carelessness or negligence. Now an insurance company has offered you a settlement, but you want to negotiate for a higher amount. Does it make sense to attempt this on your own or should you hire a lawyer for legal representation? Doing the math in regard to settlements and attorney fees can help you decide.
Personal injury attorneys typically don't charge direct fees. Instead, they charge a contingency fee, or a percentage of the settlement you receive. This should be your primary consideration when deciding whether to hire a lawyer.
A standard contingency fee is about 33 percent, or one-third of your settlement. Some variations exist among law firms, but that's a good ballpark figure to begin with.
Do the Math
Say that the settlement offer you have received from the insurance company is $5,000. You think $10,000 is more reasonable. You can attempt to negotiate on your own for this amount. The insurance carrier is likely to either stick to its original offer or make a counter-offer, such as $7,500.
During your preliminary consultation with a lawyer, he or she will tell you if the firm has a good chance of obtaining a higher amount. If you want $10,000, you need to add enough on top to pay the lawyer's 33-percent fee. If the lawyer asks for $15,000, the company's counter-offer might stand at $10,000, and you would receive approximately $6,700. However, if the company pays the $15,000, you get your $10,000. Either way, you're still getting more than the original $5,000.
The Missing Factor
The missing factor to consider is how likely it is that you can convince an insurance company to pay the money you demand, compared with the possibility that an experienced and skilled attorney can do so.
It's an essential point of consideration that an insurance company is more likely to pay a higher amount once a lawyer is involved. That's because the representatives know that now there is a possibility of going to court. Insurance carriers don't want personal injury claims to go to trial, where a jury might award the plaintiff five or 10 times the amount that was originally requested.
Consult Personal Injury Lawyers
Many personal injury attorneys provide free consultations, so contact a few of them to explain your situation and to find out about their fee structures. You may find out you can actually expect to obtain an even higher settlement than you had been thinking of. Through the process, you can make a smart decision on whether to hire an attorney and which one to choose.