The way it works for auto accidents and all personal injury is a contingency fee. My office does not charge anything upfront for attorney’s fees or costs. The only way that we get a fee is if we recover a settlement for you on your accident case. Some cases are easier than others to get recovery; some cases are very challenging and it may be hard to get a settlement, but there is no fee unless there is recovery.
Typically the contingent attorney’s fees really range. For workers compensation injuries, the typically contingent fee is 25%. For auto accident cases, the contingent fee is usually 33.3% percent. On some cases where you have to go to trial or you have to file suit and go to trial, the attorney’s fees are a little more than 40%. That’s generally what most of the cases fall into: 25%, a third, or 40%, depending on what kind of case it is and what has to be done on the case.
You want an attorney who is knowledgeable in the area of law that you’re looking for. If you’re involved in an auto accident in Missouri, you want a Missouri personal injury lawyer. Obviously you don’t want a bankruptcy lawyer. You don’t want a divorce lawyer. You want someone that does lot of personal injury cases in Missouri and who is familiar with the courts.
You want to find an experienced car accident attorney in St Louis. I’m sure there are plenty of great attorneys that have only been practicing for a few years, but it’s probably a safer bet to go with a more seasoned attorney that’s been practicing for at least 10 years and who knows the ins and outs of that area of law so you can be represented properly.
If you’re hit by someone that does not have auto insurance, you can claim it on your own uninsured motorist policy, which is a requirement of coverage in Missouri. If the damages exceed the policy limits of your uninsured motorist policy, you could also make a claim on your underinsured motorist policy. Many times the uninsured motorist coverage or underinsured motorist coverage can also be stacked creating more coverage than most people realize.
If you don’t want to do that, you can sue the individual personally. Normally, that’s not a good idea because most people that don’t have insurance typically don’t have a lot of assets. If you get a judgment against them, it’s normally worthless. It’s usually not a good option, but that is an option.
Yes. Typically if you take a picture it could be authenticated and it could be admitted into evidence if your case goes to trial. I’ve had that happen quite a few times where my clients will take pictures of the vehicle, of the damage, or of the roadway or the intersection just to document everything. Absolutely, those pictures are very important pieces of evidence and I always encourage my clients to gather as much information as they can that is related to the accidents they’re involved in.
I think definitely taking pictures of your injuries is a good idea. It documents your pain and suffering. I don’t know if you necessarily do it on a daily basis, but maybe take some pictures that show bruising or scaring or disfigurement. There may be pictures of you in a hospital bed. Stuff like that is great. Pictures are very important.
I know that whenever we submit a settlement demand on auto accidents it always beats up the demand a lot if we have lots of pictures just to document the injuries and it shows them that we have what we need to prove the case if and when it goes to trial. Absolutely, that is very important for a case.
A lot of people don’t do that and a lot of people don’t hire an attorney right away. They may think they don’t need any pictures or a lawyer for an auto accident. They do that and then it’s too late, because lot of times, once you’re out of the hospital, once the bruising or the cuts or whatever it may be heal up and you can take a picture of it, it’s going to be harder to prove all the pain and suffering that you went through and that’s why it’s never bad to take some pictures.
If you’re injured in an auto accident, you should not have any contact with the at-fault driver’s insurance adjuster. There is no reason to have any communication with them. Their primary function is to try to get your case settled for as little as possible, which is not in your best interest. They may act like they have your best interests in mind, but they don’t. It’s not their job and people don’t understand that. There is no reason to talk to them and they may be nice people and they’re just doing their job, but the bottom line is you should not have any communication with the at-fault driver’s insurance company.
You refer them to your attorney or to your insurance. If you don’t have insurance, that becomes a problem. You don’t have an insurance adjuster that could be an advocate for you and communicate with the other insurance company. In that situation it would definitely be advisable to retain an attorney; otherwise you’re going to be trouble.
I see this over and over again: people just tell the insurance adjuster too much. They give them all of their pre-existing medical history and they just keep giving and giving and all they’re doing is gathering this information trying to build the case against you, which is not a good situation to be in.
There are an infinite number of reasons why someone should hire an attorney. The insurance company typically will discourage you from hiring an attorney. Their adjusters are trained to try to discourage you from hiring an attorney and the reason is if you’re involved in an auto accident in Missouri, most people don’t know what the value of their case is. The insurance companies are in the business to make money and they want to cut their losses, and then an insurance adjuster’s job is to settle your case for as little as possible.
Most people may have never been involved in an accident in their life. They don’t know what their case is worth, whereas a good auto accident attorney does know the value of your case. That’s the only way you’re going to get full value of your case is to have an attorney work it up the right way to advise you every step of the way, like taking pictures, getting the bills, getting the proper treatment, and presenting everything to the insurance company in the right way in order to maximize your recovery.
An attorney can help you out in numerous ways. There are so many pitfalls that you can fall victim to if you aren’t being advised. The insurance companies have trained adjusters, attorneys, and just a whole team of people working and if you’re just going at it by yourself you’re just at an extreme disadvantage. You may think that the adjusters are nice and they’re doing everything they’re supposed to, but they could take advantage of you when you trust the insurance adjuster.