After you are injured or your property is damaged in a negligence-based accident, you might wonder what will happen if you can’t afford to pay for a personal injury lawyer in Pennsylvania. In most cases like yours, a personal injury lawyer will take you on as a client at no cost to you. This is called a contingency fee agreement and will mean you can start pursuing financial compensation immediately.
Your lawyer will work hard to recover damages from the person or entity whose negligence caused your accident and resulting injuries. In lieu of traditional attorney’s fees and retainers, your lawyer will receive a percentage of the damages he recovers for you via a settlement or trial verdict. This fee agreement means you will incur no upfront or out-of-pocket costs at all.
What Does the Contingency Fee Cover?
Your contingency fee covers all the expenses of preparing your case from its beginning to its resolution. It means the lawyer’s fees are contingent upon your recovering compensation. Under this agreement, your personal injury lawyer will:
- Review your case
- Investigate its cause
- Gather relevant evidence
- Calculate your damages
- Absorb all upfront costs
- Consult expert witnesses
- Negotiate a fair settlement
Based on your contingency fee agreement, your lawyer is only compensated when you are. When you mutually agree on representation, your lawyer should explain his expected percentage upfront. He will also explain the compensation process and what happens once a settlement is agreed upon.
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What Qualifies as a Personal Injury Case?
Sometimes it can be hard to know what kind of lawsuit you need to file and whether or not it qualifies as a personal injury case. Your case qualifies if you were injured because of another person’s negligence.
Personal injury cases commonly include:
- Car accidents
- Truck accidents
- Motorcycle accidents
- Medical malpractice
- Slip and fall accidents
To help you seek compensation, your lawyer will prove the negligent party owed you a duty of care, failed to provide it, caused your damages, and caused the accident’s financial consequences.
Who Will Receive the Settlement From the Insurance Company?
When you are represented by a lawyer, his law firm will receive the settlement check from the insurance company. They will alert you when this happens. Your lawyer will subtract his percentage—you will have agreed on the percentage beforehand—and submit the remainder to you.
Prior to forwarding compensation, the insurance company will ask you to sign a release form or other documentation. This will finalize your settlement and you will not be able to renegotiate or request additional compensation at a later date. A primary reason for working with a personal injury lawyer is their ability to ensure your damages are accurately calculated and your case is not undervalued or underpaid.
How Much Time Do I Have to Reach a Settlement Agreement?
Settlement and negotiation talks can take a while, and there is no real limitation on the time you have to fight for a fair settlement. There is, however, a limit to the amount of time you have to file a lawsuit if a settlement cannot be reached.
According to Pa. C.S.A. § 5524, in Pennsylvania, you generally have two years from the date your injuries occurred to file a personal injury lawsuit.
Your personal injury case is more likely to end with an insurance settlement than with a court case. If settlement negotiations are prolonged, the personal injury lawyer who represents you will file your potential lawsuit to preserve your right to go to court if necessary.
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What Happens if the Statute of Limitations Expires?
Any lawsuit filed after the expiration of the statute of limitations will most likely be dismissed because the legal and insurance representatives for the at-fault party are aware of the statute of limitations. They will request an immediate dismissal of your lawsuit if it is filed late.
This request is likely to be granted and you could be left with no available legal options to compel the at-fault party to compensate you. Your personal injury lawyer will help you avoid these negative consequences. He may also identify circumstances of your case that lengthen or shorten the filing deadline.
Get a Free Review of Your Personal Injury Case
If you or a loved one was injured because of someone else’s negligence, you do not have to worry about what will happen if you can’t afford to pay for a personal injury lawyer in Pennsylvania. Attorney Laurence B. Green has 40 years of experience and will fight hard for the compensation you are entitled to on a contingency fee basis.
Learn more about our law firm’s commitment to your recovery by calling our Berger and Green case review team today.