You’ve been injured through someone else’s actions or negligence. Now what? Your finances are struggling under the weight of medical bills or property damage. Should you pursue a lawsuit? Unless you are sure you have a good case, pursuing legal action can actually make your financial problems worse. Consider the cost of filing a case before you decide if it is worth it to pursue legal action.
Consider the Cost
Every lawyer handles their client’s fees differently, so you need to take extra care to understand exactly what your attorney’s legal fees will be.
Some lawyers are confident enough in their ability to win the cases they choose to take, and will only charge the client if the case is won. This arrangement is called a “contingency fee”: contingent on the result of the case. Some states have limitations on how much a lawyer can take as a contingency fee. The most common amount is 33% of the settlement money. If you win $30,000, for example, your lawyer will take $10,000 to cover their legal fees (source: All Law).
Contingency fees don’t always match up exactly with the amount of time a lawyer puts into a case, so they may leave either the client or the lawyer dissatisfied. For example, if you win a large amount of settlement money, the percentage your lawyer is awarded may be more than enough to cover the costs. On the other hand, if the case takes a long time to resolve or doesn’t result in a high settlement, the lawyer may end up being underpaid.
Consider the Time
Pursuing a personal injury lawsuit doesn’t only take money from your wallet; it can also takes quite a long time. And you know what they say: “Time is money!” Every state has their own “statute of limitations” that dictates how long after the injury you have to sue the guilty party—many states say you have a year to sue, while others have shorter or longer limitations (source: Nolo).
Most personal injury cases can be settled outside of a court hearing. In these cases, the process is much shorter and easier to manage. Talk to your lawyer about how much time and effort you will need to put in to the case, and discuss whether or not he thinks the defendant will want to settle outside of a courtroom.
Consider the Outcome
If the party you are suing does not want to settle the case outside of court, then you will both appear in front of a judge and jury. When that happens, the outcome of your case will be in the court’s hands. If you are confident in your case and think you can convince a judge and a jury to agree with you, then pursuing a lawsuit may be worth it. If you don’t think a jury would agree with you, however, save time and money by not taking legal action.
If you don’t know what kind of outcome your case will have, ask a lawyer. Some law firms charge a small fee for an initial case review, but many offer a free initial consultation.
Even if you win a lawsuit, you cannot undo any damage or injury you suffered. If the settlement money would be worth the time and the expense of building a case and would improve your situation, then proceed with the case. If not, it’s in your best interests to let it go without pursuing legal action.
*Information Source: Torbet & Tuft
This article is from Meghan Belnap, blogger, researcher, and freelance writer.