How Much Does a Lawyer Cost for a Car Accident Claim?
A car accident claim can quickly turn more complicated than anticipated. You may know who caused your accident and what damages you suffered. Still, the insurance company may throw out every possible obstacle to prevent you from getting the compensation you deserve for the accident and your injuries. Worse, you may find the insurance company dragging out the process at every turn, leaving you without the funds to pay your bills and manage your other challenges.
If this happens to you, you need a car accident lawyer to force the insurance company to the table for good-faith negotiations, or, failing that, a trial.
That sounds expensive, but it’s not.
How much does it cost to hire a lawyer to help take care of your car accident claim?
Nothing. Let us explain why.
It Usually Costs Nothing to Hire a Car Accident Lawyer
Most car accident lawyers understand the financial difficulties that can plague you following an accident. Through free consultations and contingent fee arrangements, they aim to make it as easy as possible for you to get legal help with your car accident.
Connecting with a lawyer usually starts with a free consultation. That initial meeting or conversation can often provide most of the information the lawyer needs to determine if you have a car accident claim worth pursuing.
During a free consultation, you will usually go over important topics with the lawyer, such as:
Who you believe caused your car accident, and what evidence might prove it.
What factors may have contributed to the accident, and whether any of those factors might warrant further investigation.
How much money you need to compensate for your injuries, based on the losses you already sustained and may yet face.
During an initial consultation, a lawyer can also often evaluate any early settlement offer you may have received from an insurance company—specifically, whether it accurately reflects the damages and losses you can receive and whether to accept or reject it. Frequently, insurance companies make opening settlement offers that fall well short of the true amount of your damages. By leaving settlement negotiations to an experienced car accident lawyer, you can frequently receive far more than what the insurance company initially puts on the table.
A free consultation will not cost you a dime, even if you decide not to hire the lawyer. It offers you a risk-free opportunity to learn about your claim and decide if you want to work with the lawyer. Most lawyers will tell you in the initial compensation if they believe you have a viable case and whether they want to represent you.
Most lawyers handle car accident cases on a contingent fee basis. That means that the lawyer’s fee consists only of a percentage of any money recovered for you. The lawyer does not charge an upfront retainer fee or bill you by the hour. And if the lawyer does not get you results, you do not owe anything for the work the lawyer did.
Contingent fees make it possible to hire a top-quality car accident lawyer regardless of your financial circumstances. A skilled lawyer working on contingency will get to work for you without charging you a penny.
Failing to Hire a Lawyer Is a Costly Mistake
In most cases, hiring a lawyer to handle your car accident claim costs you nothing unless the lawyer gets you results. It’s a win-win. So why would anyone not want to hire one?
A small number of people wonder whether they need a lawyer at all to obtain compensation. They wonder: if I can get as much (or almost as much) on my own as a lawyer could get for me, is hiring a lawyer really worth my while?
The answer is yes, it is absolutely worth your while. You cannot realistically hope to get nearly as much for your claim through your own efforts as an experienced car accident lawyer can get for you. Not even close. Going without a lawyer is always a needlessly costly mistake. Here’s why.
Without a lawyer, you cannot easily calculate the full compensation you deserve.
You may claim compensation for many injuries and losses as a car accident victim. Lawyers are trained to spot those damages and calculate their value. You probably aren't, so you risk leaving money on the table.
You may know, for example, that your car accident claim can include compensation for repairs to your vehicle and the cost of your medical bills. But what about medical-adjacent costs like co-pays, deductibles, and medical travel expenses? Or expenses you would never have had if it weren't for your accident? And how do you calculate the income you have already missed out on and the future income you might not receive because of your injury? These are questions a lawyer knows how to answer.
And that's not all. Seasoned car accident lawyers also understand how to put a value on non-financial injuries that represent some of the most significant damages you suffered. For instance, you have the right to payment for your physical pain, emotional suffering, inconvenience, and lost quality of life. Lawyers who regularly represent car accident victims like you know the amount you can claim for those injuries and how to justify them to judges, juries, and insurance companies.
Without a lawyer, it’s hard to gather critical evidence.
To obtain compensation for car accident injuries, you need evidence. You cannot hope to secure payment for your injuries without gathering convincing evidence to prove the at-fault party’s liability and your own damages.
The evidence necessary to prove a car accident claim can include:
Witness reports from the accident
Video footage of the accident from security or traffic cameras
Photos of the accident scene
Expert witness testimony regarding the causes of the accident
Vehicle repair histories
Black box information from big trucks
Expert medical opinions
This evidence does not appear on its own. Tracking, preserving, and assembling it into a persuasive argument takes hard work.
Car accident lawyers find, secure, and analyze evidence daily. They know what evidence will prove a case, where to obtain it, and how to use the tools to effectively use it. Those aren't skills most car accident victims have. So if you try to go it alone, you may present a far weaker case than a lawyer.
Without a lawyer, you may miss potential sources of payment.
Experienced car accident lawyers also understand how to identify and target all potential payment sources for your injuries and losses. It's a task that requires familiarity with many laws and legal principles, including personal injury liability, jurisdiction, contracts, insurance, and court precedents. Lawyers gain this know-how over years of study, continuing education, and hands-on experience.
For example, multiple parties can owe damages to an injured victim in any given car accident. The law generally entitles victims to claim payment from anyone whose wrongful decisions or actions contributed to a crash.
That could include:
Employers of drivers who crash work vehicles
Social hosts who serve alcohol to a minor
Manufacturers of defective auto parts
Government road agencies and contractors responsible for dangerous road conditions
Lawyers understand how to survey the facts of a car accident to identify potentially liable parties. Without a lawyer's help, you risk overlooking an individual, business, or entity that owes you damages.
Moreover, each party who bears liability to you may carry liability insurance to cover at least some of your losses. For example, say you face millions of dollars in damages due to a spinal cord injury. All states require drivers to carry auto liability insurance, but perhaps the driver only bought a minimum policy for $50,000. That won't begin to cover your losses.
Most businesses also carry liability coverage. State laws mandate that rideshare companies like Uber and Lyft carry large liability policies for crashes involving their vehicles.
A car accident lawyer understands the intricacies of those insurance policies and how to pursue joint liability and maximize your compensation.
In addition, you may also claim insurance benefits from your own policies or one carried by your employer. For example, many drivers purchase uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage to protect themselves and their passengers against losses not covered by an at-fault party's insurance. And if you suffered injuries in a work-related car accident, workers' compensation insurance may pay some of your expenses and losses. Lawyers can claim these benefits for you, too.
Without a lawyer, you’ll have to do everything yourself.
The challenges described above account for just some of the significant effort it takes to obtain maximum compensation for a car accident injury. Achieving success in a car accident claim also involves managing countless details, interactions, and deadlines. Experienced car accident lawyers are accustomed to these tasks and have a staff that helps accomplish them. If you go without a lawyer, all of that is up to you, and any slip-up can cost you valuable rights.
Plus, you have healing from an injury to worry about, which already consumes time and energy. You have to squeeze doctor visits, pharmacy trips, and extra rest into your already busy schedule. Realistically, how much time could you devote to handling a complicated car accident claim on top of everything else?
Without a lawyer, going to trial isn't an option.
Most car accident claims settle through negotiations between the injured party and the at-fault party's representatives. But you can't settle for maximum compensation unless you're ready, willing, and able to take your case to trial if settlement negotiations fail to achieve your desired outcome. Skilled car accident lawyers know how to go to trial and win. Most car accident victims don't, which puts them at a disadvantage when trying to settle their own cases.
Plus, trials take significant additional time, effort, and expense, over and above what it takes to get a case in adequate shape to negotiate a settlement effectively. Even if you wanted to take your case to trial, it’s a long shot that you would have the bandwidth and resources to make a persuasive presentation. Trials also involve intricate rules of procedure and evidence that it takes years of legal education and experience to master.
Without a lawyer, no one will take your claim seriously.
This brings us to our final point. The simple fact is that no one will take your car accident claim seriously unless you have a lawyer in your corner. Insurance companies and defense lawyers treat self-represented accident victims as easy marks and undervalue their claims accordingly. Judges and juries feel that people without lawyers are wasting their time and award them little to no damages. Everyone perceives the decision to go without a lawyer as foolhardy and a signal of a weak case.
Contact a Lawyer as Soon as Possible After Your Car Accident
To summarize, hiring an experienced personal injury lawyer to handle your car accident case generally costs you nothing to start and nothing unless you win. On the other hand, not hiring a lawyer can—and likely would—cost you the entire value of your claim. That makes for an easy choice about what you should do after getting hurt in a car accident.
Do not delay getting the legal help you need over worries about affordability. A skilled car accident lawyer is standing by to give you a free consultation about your car accident injury case. To get started, contact an experienced car accident attorney in your area today.
Edward M. Bernstein, Esq. is the owner and founding partner of Edward M. Bernstein & Associates, and one of the most recognizable figures in Nevada. Ed is one of state’s premier personal injury attorneys and has hosted The Ed Bernstein Show for over 31 years. He has served the Las Vegas community for decades with dozens of community appointments and terms of service. In the year 2000, he was Nevada’s Democratic nominee for the United States Senate.
Ed received his B.A. from Long Island University in 1971 and his J.D. from Widener University in 1975. Since then, Ed’s professional accolades include numerous publications, honors and awards, court appointments, and has been named one of America’s Top 100 High Stakes Litigators.