The goal of any personal injury lawsuit, including those about car accidents, is to receive a settlement or positive judgment. While not all cases will conclude with either, most personal injury claims do settle outside of court during negotiations.
The issue of payment is sometimes challenging for the claimant to understand because the value of the settlement or judgment is rarely what he or she receives. A lawyer should explain to their client how an award is distributed after negotiations or a verdict to stave off disappointment.
Lawyer Fees and Expenses
When a check is cut for the settlement amount or the award, it is typically issued to your personal injury lawyer or their law firm, meaning you have no immediate claim to the money. The lawyer will first take their fees from the amount — depending on the case’s complexity, and if it went to trial, the fee could be between 30% and 40%.
Once the lawyer fee is deducted, the firm will take money to recover expenses. For example, money will need to repay expert witnesses, court filings, etc. Unfortunately, lawyer fees and expenses are not the only items taking money from your settlement.
Liens and Other Obligations
Once the law firm is repaid, your personal injury lawyer will deduct any other debts and promises. For example, some cases will require lawyer liens, allowing clients to receive the medical treatment they need before trial. If you used lawyer liens, these would be paid back with the settlement or award money before you receive the final payment. You might also need to pay back your private insurance to cover the cost of your initial medical treatment and therapy.
If there is anything left after paying off your debts and obligations, your lawyer will make a check out to you for the balance. You are free to do whatever with that money.
Is a Lawyer Worth the Sacrifice
Many people will look at the expenses of hiring a lawyer, and the costs of repaying medical facilities and think is any of it worth it; it depends. Hiring a lawyer does improve your odds of a successful verdict or settlement. If you were seriously injured, a lawsuit could lead to a lengthy and complex trial. Having a lawyer at your side is the best way to ensure a strong claim and improve the odds of financial recovery from injuries and property losses.