How much is this going to cost me? Do you offer free legal consultations? I don't have any money for a retainer, will you still represent me? These are questions I am frequently asked during an initial consultation with a potential client. During these meetings those who come to meet with me are first determining if I have the knowledge, skill, and experience to assist them with their case, but also whether they have the means of hiring an attorney to represent them in their personal injury claim. My answer to them is always the same.
“You can't afford not to hire a lawyer.”
Almost all personal injury attorneys work under a “contingent fee contract. Essentially this states that the attorney's fee (the money he or she gets paid) is contingent upon the attorney making a recovery for you. In other words, if the attorney does not either settle your case or obtain a legal judgment, he or she doesn't get paid for the work. There is no deposit, no retainer, no advanced payments. The attorney would only collect money for the work performed after the case is resolved.
It's usually in the injured victim's best interest to be represented by an attorney too. Studies have shown that on average accident victims will put more in their pocket if they are represented by an attorney than they would trying to resolve the claim without the advice and counsel of a lawyer. This is true, even when accounting for the fact that an attorney will keep a percentage of the claim proceeds as payment for the work performed—usually one third of the total gross settlement.
Because this is not always true, and because no two personal injury claims are the same, it is important to discuss your claim with an attorney. Most all of them—including the attorneys here at Schauermann Thayer—offer free initial consultations. It's important to discuss your rights and responsibilities with respect to a personal injury claim and especially regarding a potential lawsuit that may need to be filed on your behalf.