Auto accident victims may wonder about the potential cost of hiring a San Diego car accident lawyer. In San Diego, most car accident attorneys work on a contingency fee basis. This means that instead of charging an upfront fee, the attorney will take a percentage of the compensation awarded if they win your case.
Considering this fee structure, clients don’t need to worry about out-of-pocket costs for lawyer fees. The car accident lawyer only gets paid if they secure a favorable outcome for their client. This arrangement is designed to make legal representation accessible to individuals who might otherwise be unable to afford it.
How Much Do San Diego Car Accident Lawyers Charge?
Many San Diego car accident lawyers operate on a contingency fee system, but the specific percentage can vary. In California, contingency fees for car accident lawyers are regulated by the State Bar. While there is no fixed percentage, attorneys are generally bound by ethical guidelines.
Contingency Fee Percentages in California
The contingency fee in California typically falls between 33% and 40% of the settlement amount. However, these percentages can depend on factors such as the complexity of the case, the car accident lawyer’s experience level, the geographical area where the law firm is located, and the anticipated duration of the case.
Most car accident lawyers offer a free case review. During this initial consultation, it’s important to ask the personal injury lawyer if they work on a contingency fee basis and if any additional costs might arise during the legal process. Additional costs could include filing fees and expert witness fees, which will be handled throughout the process. A trustworthy auto accident attorney should provide a clear breakdown of the contingency fee and potential additional costs.
Is It Worth It to Hire a Personal Injury Attorney?
With the help of an experienced personal injury lawyer, you have the best chance of recovering full and fair compensation for your injuries and losses. Here is how experienced auto accident attorneys can help your car accident case:
- Experienced car accident lawyers possess strong negotiation skills and will deal with insurance companies on your behalf.
- Personal injury attorneys have access to a network of professionals such as investigators, medical experts, and accident reconstruction specialists who can help strengthen your case.
- Having a professional attorney allows you to focus on your recovery while the legal aspects are managed.
- Studies show that individuals represented by personal injury attorneys often receive 3.5 times higher compensation compared to those who handle personal injury claims themselves.
Steps to Take After Being Injured in an Auto Accident
Experiencing a car accident can be overwhelming. Taking the following steps after the incident is crucial to help protect your rights and well-being.
- Check for injuries and move to a safe location, if possible.
- Call 911 immediately to report the car accident. If there are any injuries, request emergency medical assistance.
- Exchange information with the other parties involved, including names, contact details, driver’s licenses, license plate numbers, insurance information, and vehicle details.
- Take photos of the accident scene, damages, and any relevant road signs or signals.
- Collect contact information from any witnesses at the scene.
- Even if your injuries do not seem severe, seek medical attention promptly. Some serious injuries may not manifest immediately.
- Inform your own insurance company about the accident as soon as possible.
- Schedule a free consultation with an experienced San Diego car accident attorney to understand your rights and potential legal actions.
What Should I Do if the Insurance Company Offers Me a Settlement Soon After a Car Accident?
After an auto accident, the driver’s insurance company may try to reach out for a written or recorded statement, but it’s best to first consult with an experienced car accident attorney. The other driver’s insurance company may offer a low settlement quickly, hoping you will accept it. However, the initial settlement offer may not account for all your damages such as long-term medical costs, rehabilitation, and lost income.
A personal injury attorney will help you assess and calculate medical bills, lost wages, property damage, ongoing medical expenses, and pain and suffering damages. Before accepting the insurance company’s settlement, consult with a car accident attorney to ensure the offer is fair and covers all present and future expenses related to the accident.
Common Injuries Suffered in Car Accidents
Car accidents can lead to a range of serious injuries, some of which may have long-term consequences. Common car accident injuries include:
- Whiplash: Sudden jerking of the head can cause neck strain or whiplash, leading to pain and restricted movement.
- Fractures and broken bones: Impact during a collision can result in fractures or broken bones.
- Head injuries: Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) can occur due to the head hitting a hard surface or being impaled by an object. When the brain is violently shaken against the skull it can cause brain damage.
- Back injuries: The impact of a car crash can cause back injuries, including herniated discs or spinal cord injuries.
- Soft tissue injuries: Damage to muscles, ligaments, and tendons may lead to persistent pain and discomfort.
- Internal injuries: Injuries to internal organs, such as the liver or spleen, may not be immediately apparent but can be life-threatening.
What Damages Can I Recover in a Personal Injury Lawsuit?
In a personal injury lawsuit, various damages can be pursued, including:
Economic damages are objective losses such as medical costs, property damage, lost wages, physical therapy expenses, and the cost of household services.
Non-economic damages are intangible losses such as pain and suffering, emotional distress, and loss of consortium fall. Because these types of damages are more subjective, they can be difficult to calculate without an experienced attorney.
In certain car accident cases, punitive damages may be awarded to penalize the at-fault party for egregious negligence or intentional harm.
Wrongful Death Damages
If the accident results in a fatality, surviving family members may pursue wrongful death damages for loss of support, companionship, and burial and funeral expenses.
A skilled personal injury attorney can help you determine the types of damages applicable to your case and fight for the maximum compensation.
How Long Do I Have to File a Lawsuit Against an At-Fault Driver in San Diego?
In San Diego, the statute of limitations for filing a personal injury lawsuit is typically 2 years from the date the car accident injury was sustained. If you fail to file your case within the allotted timeframe, you may lose your right to seek fair compensation. Some exceptions may apply that can shorten or extend the period you have to file a claim, so it’s crucial to consult with an attorney to determine the specific deadlines relevant to your case.
Do I Need to Go to Court for a San Diego Car Accident Claim?
The majority of car accident claims are settled through negotiations or alternative dispute resolution methods. Going to court typically occurs when a fair settlement cannot be reached. Therefore, it’s crucial to have an experienced attorney on your side who can represent you in court, if necessary.
What Is the Average Settlement for a Car Accident?
Determining the average settlement for a car accident is challenging due to the different elements involved. Settlement amounts can range from a few thousand dollars to millions, depending on factors including the following:
- Severity of injuries: More severe injuries generally result in higher settlements to cover medical expenses and ongoing care.
- Liability: If the at-fault party is found liable for the majority of the damages it can influence the settlement amount. For example, if the other driver is found 80% responsible for the accident, they are liable for 80% of the damages.
- Insurance policy limits: The at-fault party’s insurance policy limits can cap the maximum settlement amount.
- Economic and non-economic damages: The total damages, including economic and non-economic losses, play a significant role in determining the settlement amount.
Schedule a Free Consultation With a San Diego Car Accident Lawyer
If you’ve been involved in a motor vehicle accident in San Diego and are unsure about your legal options, it’s best to schedule a free consultation with experienced car accident attorneys.
At Harbor Accident Lawyers, our team of San Diego car accident attorneys is here to provide guidance and support during this challenging time. We maintain a 99% success rate and have recovered millions in compensation for our clients. Call our law firm today to schedule a free consultation.