Ask a person on the street what they think about car accident lawyers.
Most likely characterizations: ambulance chasers, good for nothing, money
grubbing, self-centered, jerks.
This blog takes the opposite view. In my opinion, car accident lawyers
can be the very best seekers of justice in the legal system. Why? Car
accident lawyers help people that are hurt, because somebody else made
a mistake. Car accident lawyers spend their own money, to advance court
fees and don't get paid unless they win.
Car Accident Lawyers Help People
The best lawyers help people. The public think very highly of lawyers who
help the poor, the underrepresented, the victims. Car accident lawyers
help people that were injured. In fact, under New York law, car accident
lawyers are limited to helping people who have a "serious physical
injury" (see also my blog on
what a serious physical injury is). Any accident lawyer worth anything has made countless home visits because
the client is too injured to come to the office. Any decent car accident
lawyer has been forever affected by the vision of blood and guts and broken
bones seen in person, photos, and medical records. They have talked to
families of victims, parents of injured children, people who's life
will never be the same.
How do car accident lawyers help people? They get them money. Money does
two things. First, it represents someone accepting responsibility for
a serious physical injury. Second, it provides for the financial loss
suffered by the victim of the car accident. Some people will criticize
the thought that getting someone money is helping them. Those critics
are stupid. If they want to criticize the idea that a lawyer getting the
victim of a car accident money for pain and suffering and lost potential
income is helping them, then I invite them to my office. I invite them
to see the six-year-old who was T-boned by a drunk garbage truck driver,
on his way to school, who is now paralyzed for life. Money the boy gets
from his suit will allow him to live a suitable lifestyle that would have
been stolen from him if his lawyer was unsuccessful. I invite the same
critic to see the more simple cases I see too. The head-on collision resulting
from a driver drifting across the center line while text messaging, causing
the recent college graduate to forgo his first job search for six months.
I invite them to see the sales professional struck when a brand new driver
forgot to stop at the stop sign, who misses commissions for year. We all
need money. People in car accidents lose a lot. They still need money.
Lawyers who help them are doing the right thing.
Car Accident Lawyers Spend Their Own Money, But Only Get Paid If They Win
Car accident lawyers front a lot of money to make a case trial ready. Costs include:
Fees - The government gets money for every case filed, request for judicial
intervention, and paper filed in a case.
Investigators - $65 to $85 an hour - every good personal injury lawyer has at least
a few good investigators to gather evidence.
Experts - The difference between success and failure can often be technical knowledge
like that provided by a structural engineer, doctor, accident reconstructionist
(read darn expensive).
Medical Records - Every page is critical, there are often thousands of pages, they cost
seventy five cents per page to order from all doctors and hospitals.
Time - Time is a lawyer's stock in trade. When a lawyer is working on your
case he is not working on anyone else's case and not making any other
money. Hundred and Thousands of Hours in a case is not unusual, it is
a big investment.
Car accident lawyers on get paid if they win. It is called a
contingency fee. Contingency fees are beneficial because they allow people that would
not be able to afford a lawyer the ability to hire a lawyer by promising
them a percentage of an eventual recovery. I can think of no other professional
that works for free for so long. People don't say "Hey Doctor,
if you cure my cold I'll pay you $100." They don't say "Mr.
Accountant, beat this IRS audit and I'll cut you a check." However,
experienced trial attorneys take long, complex cases without a promise to pay.
Car accident lawyers take cases without promise of payment,spend their
own money to help people that have been seriously injured. For that, I
believe, they are noble.