Motor Vehicle Accidents in Virginia - Why hire an attorney? - Part Two

Author: R. Clayton Allen, Richmond, VA Personal Injury Attorney

In Part One of this series, I talked about some considerations of why you might hire a personal injury attorney, and some ways insurance companies may take advantage of you if you don't have an attorney. In Part Two, I'll discuss some additional considerations.

1. The more money that is involved, the more you have to lose if you handle it wrong. And the more incentive the insurance company has to take advantage of you.

If your injuries and losses are small, then if you make a mistake in handling your claim then you haven't lost much. However, if your losses are more substantial, then you have more at risk if you make a mistake. And the insurance company has more incentive to help you make that mistake.

2. Insurance companies train their adjusters to keep people from going to an attorney. The insurance companies call that "controlling the case".

Why would they do that? Because the insurance companies know that an experienced and knowledgeable attorney will be able to ascertain the full extent of all your damages and losses that you are entitled to collect, will know what a fair value for those losses is, and will file suit if the insurance company won't pay it. In other words, because the insurance company knows they'll have to pay out more money if you have an attorney.

3. Most personal injury attorneys charge one-third of the recovery as a fee.

Because your attorney is charging a percentage of the recovery, even if he does a lot of work but doesn't recover much, you won't owe him much. The attorney's financial incentive is to get as much money for you as possible. Suppose your tax preparer's fee was only a percentage of the money he saved you on your taxes. How hard do you think he'd look to find you more savings?

Some people think a third (thirty-three per cent) sounds like a lot. Usually that's because they don't know what the markup is one most of the products they buy. Did you know that the average hot dog vendor on the corner is charging you fifty to sixty-three percent of the price you pay for what you buy?[1] Did you know that when you get a repair at the auto body shop, they are charging you 25% to over 100% "fee" added to the cost of the parts they provide (labor is extra)? [2] Even when you buy a shirt from a store, the store is charging you about a third of the cost you pay. [3] What about paper and envelopes (stationery)?  Average is 40%. [4] So with extensive education, experience and skill required to be an attorney, one-third is a bargain compared to what you pay for products you buy. And remember, too, that the attorney doesn't get paid until you get paid, too. If the insurance company is difficult, a case may last a year or more, and the attorney doesn't get paid anything for all the work done until the very end. In the meantime, normally not only is he paying his staff and office expenses and insurance and everything else, he's also fronting the expenses to file suit, pay doctors for conferences and depositions, court reporter charges, medical records charges, and many other expenses. It's not unusual for our Firm to be fronting expenses to clients that total in excess of a million dollars, for which we charge no interest. (Many of our competitors do charge interest on advanced expenses, but we do not).

4. You may never have a more educated, more skilled, more experienced advocate for you than when you have a personal injury attorney.

Almost all attorneys have successfully completed a four year college, successfully completed a three year law school, and successfully passed a rigorous licensing examination to be able to practice law. In our Firm, we have attorneys who have attended some of the top colleges in the country, we have attorneys who have attended some of the top law schools in the country, we have attorneys who are listed in the "Best Lawyers in America" books, we have attorneys who have received local, state, national and even international recognition for their accomplishments in the law. We have attorneys who have successfully tried many difficult cases in court on behalf of our clients and have obtained a number of the top verdicts in Virginia. And we enjoy helping people.

About the Author: Clayton Allen has been helping clients with all types of personal injury claims for more than 30 years. He is highly respected in the legal community for his meticulous research and legal analysis. Outside of the courtroom Clayton serves on the Board of the International Hospital of Children, an organization which provides healthcare to children in underserved countries.


[1] That's what IRS auditors are told is the industry average; see http://www.irs.gov/businesses/small/article/0,,id=141485,00.html

[2] That's what the IRS has found; see http://www.irs.gov/businesses/small/article/0,,id=202093,00.html

[3] See http://retailowner.com/Default.aspx?TabId=119.

[4] See http://answers.yahoo.com/.

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