Many people feel that they always have the option of filing a personal injury suit over every accident. Filing and pursuing a lawsuit is costly, on top of what you may owe from medical expenses or lost wages. A frivolous or low-paying lawsuit may do you more harm than good. Here’s why it could cost you.
Settle a Case
When you settle a case out of court, it means the insurance company or whatever defendant you’re suing prefers to offer a payoff over a court case they aren’t likely to win. While this will save all parties some headaches, you’ll most likely be offered a lesser sum than what you could have obtained in court, while still having to pay attorney fees. You’ll have to consider for yourself what amount is satisfactory in your situation versus the costs of pursuing a court battle.
Lose and Pay
The worst possible outcome is to take a personal injury case to court and then lose. You could be held liable for not only your own legal and court costs, but those of the defense as well. The victorious defendant and their attorneys could very well try to recoup losses by filing a suit against you. This could be financially devastating on top of your own costs, which can be quite intimidating by themselves. In parts of Texas, for instance, it can cost nearly $300 in fees just to file a claim.
Pay on Contingency
Many personnel injury lawyers will accept your case on contingency, which means you don’t have to pay if they lose the case. They’ll still take around a third of the monetary award if you do win. Contingency fees, however, don’t cover some related expenses, such as your own expert witnesses. They also generally don’t cover various administrative costs, such as delivery of legal papers or obtaining courtroom transcripts. If your case goes to trial, things like transcript services will come out of your own pocket.
Make an Informed Decision
Find an attorney working on contingency, but evaluate your legal prospects carefully before entrusting them with your case. You should ask about their win-loss ratio, some recent cases they’ve worked on, and other questions of competency. Be sure that your attorney understands all the details of your case and explains your options and the probable outcomes for each. Ultimately, your attorney will be losing a payday if they can’t win your case, but you’ll be adding to your financial woes.
Winning a case is never a guarantee. Even when you do, don’t forget that there will be hidden costs coming out of your share of the award.
Author Info: Hannah Whittenly is a freelance writer and mother of two from Sacramento, CA. She enjoys kayaking and reading books by the lake. You can find her on Twitter.