When you are in a car accident and suffer personal injuries, you may receive a fast settlement offer from an insurance company. They may even use pressure tactics to make you think it is a take-it-or-loose-it option. If you accept their low-ball offer, you will be unable to sue later for a higher amount comparable to the severity of your injuries.
The best car accident lawyer knows that injuries you suffer in a Las Vegas accident are likely to be severe. In 2019 there were 284 fatalities in Nevada due to car collisions, and 185 of those were in Clark County. That means Las Vegas experiences about one (1) traffic fatality every other day.
Data from the Nevada Department of Transportation shows that in 2010 the entire state of Nevada had 51,664 crashes and almost 80% of those were in Clark County. Of that 55,664 number, 43.3% or a total of 22,215 were reported by the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department. That is about 61 crashes per day.
What this means is if you reside or work in the Las Vegas or Clark County area, you have a good chance of being in a car collision. When that happens you need an auto injury lawyer who is familiar with the tactics of insurance company lawyers. They will review any settlement offers and compare them with your long-term medical prognosis to determine if the offer is fair and equitable to your injuries.
Finding an Auto Accident Lawyer
One thing people tend to worry about is the attorney fees they will need to pay when hiring an injury law firm to handle their car accident claims. One of the most important things for you to know is that it doesn’t matter whether you hire an attorney fresh out of law school or one with decades of experience in filing claims for accident victims, the fees will be the same.
That is because personal injury claims are usually performed on a contingency basis. This means that you pay no fees upfront. The attorney collects a percentage of your winnings after the atter reaches settlement or you win at trial.
In Nevada, contingency fees are usually 40% of the settlement plus court costs. If your lawsuit settles for $200,000, your attorney will receive $80,000 for their services.
While a contingency fee is not mandatory for personal injury cases in Nevada, it is usually the method of payment clients prefer. This is because if the attorney does not win you will not owe any attorney fees. Because the attorney receives more money for their work if they obtain a higher settlement, they have the incentive to obtain the best settlement possible.
Rules for Contingency Fees
Contingency fees are regulated by Rule 1.5 of the Nevada Rules of Professional Conduct. When performing legal work on a contingency basis the agreement must include:
- The contingency agreement must be in writing
- The agreement must contain the client’s signature
- The agreement must state that it is a contingency agreement in easily read print size
- The agreement must state if there are expenses to be paid by the client regardless of whether or not they win the case
- The agreement must include a warning that the client may be liable for the other party’s fees and costs if they do not win their case
Once the case settles your attorney will prepare an accounting that shows how they calculate the amount you receive. The accounting will include the percentage deduction for their attorney fees. It will also list deductions for costs such as payment for medical records, court filing fees, expert witness fees, medical liens against the lawsuit claim, etc.
For example, if you win a settlement of $200,000 from which your attorney deducts their attorney fees of $80,000. From the remaining $120,000 they outstanding costs, including a medical lien of $10,000, court filing fees of $500, expert witness fees of $2,000, and office expenses of $200. The remaining $107,300 will come to you.
When considering an automobile accident attorney you will want to look for testimonials or case results on their website or by searching online. Filing a personal injury lawsuit is a lengthy and detailed process that requires your attorney to prove the negligence of the other driver. The pleadings must show how the other driver’s lack of duty to drive in a careful and prudent manner is the direct and proximate cause of your injuries.
The years of experience your personal injury law firm has will assist them in making sure your car accident settlement is comparable to the pain and suffering you are experiencing. They will be aware of the statute of limitations for filing a lawsuit in the event you are unable to obtain an out-of-court settlement.
Most civil cases never go to trial. Your attorney will likely be able to negotiate a settlement by obtaining advice from medical professionals regarding the long-term prognosis of your recovery. Catastrophic injuries or other permanent injuries that affect your quality of life have an impact on the amount of settlement you will receive.
Car Injury Lawyer Consultation
Almost all personal injury attorneys offer 100% free consultations. They will not charge you a fee unless they settle your case or win at trial. But what do you ask at that free consultation to make sure you are hiring the best accident attorney?
When you meet with the attorney take with you all accident reports, medical reports, photographs, etc. pertaining to the accident. This will provide the attorney with information regarding the facts of the accident and the seriousness of your injures. The attorney will ask a large number of questions to gather the information they need to provide a legal opinion on your case.
You will have the opportunity to ask the car wreck attorney about their experience with personal injury cases. Inquire on what type of cases the attorney handles on a regular basis. An attorney that specializes in car accidents and personal injury law will be the most up-to-date on the latest developments regarding this type of case.
Ask how many years the attorney has been handling this type of case and their success rate. The experience your attorney has will greatly impact how successful they are in negotiating a large settlement. If you are unable to reach an out-of-court settlement, does the attorney have experience at trial?
This last question may seem strange, but there are a large number of lawyers who always settle out of court and lack trial experience. Personal injury lawyers that are willing to take a matter to trial and have a reputation for doing so will be able to obtain a higher settlement out-of-court because insurance companies do not want to pay the high costs of trial.
What to Do if You Get In a Car Accident
If you are in an accident, there are specific steps you need to take to protect your health and legal rights. One of the most important things to remember is never say anything that indicates you are 1) not hurt or 2) at fault. Even innocent-sounding utterances may be later used against you in court or during settlement negotiations.
Here is a checklist of things to do after a car accident:
- Contact the police
- Take photos of the accident scene, including all vehicles
- Obtain contact information from the other driver and any witnesses
- Seek immediate medical treatment for any injuries, no matter how insignificant they may seem
- Notify your insurance company immediately and file a claim for benefits
- Obtain a copy of the police report
- Write down as soon after the accident as possible how the accident happened
- Keep records of all medical providers, treatments, bills, and attend all medical appointments and recommendations for follow-up treatment
- Do not agree verbally or in writing to any settlement offers from insurance companies without first consulting with a personal injury attorney
- Contact a car injury attorney for a consultation
You will also want to look over your car insurance policy to determine if there are any notification deadlines that must be met to receive benefits.
What Happens if You Total a Leased Car?
In the second quarter of 2020, about 26% of new vehicle sales in the United States were on a lease. When you are in an accident with a leased vehicle the steps you take will be similar but different to those with a vehicle you own or are purchasing.
The steps immediately after the accident are the same as shown above for any car accident. In addition to contacting your insurance company and a car injury attorney, you will need to contact the leasing company and advise them of the accident.
A lease specifies that you will return the vehicle at the end of the lease agreement in good condition. If the vehicle is totaled you are unable to do so. This means you have an obligation to pay off the outstanding balance on the lease.
If you have enough insurance on the vehicle, that will hopefully cover the balance of your lease. You may file a claim against the other driver’s insurance if they are at fault. This will cover your vehicle, medical injuries, etc. If you are at fault you will need to file a claim against your own insurance company.
In either case, you will receive the fair market value of the vehicle. Fair market value is not necessarily the same amount as the remaining lease balance. Your car accident attorney will make sure you receive a fair settlement.
Hire the Best Car Accident Lawyer
When you are searching for the best car accident lawyer in Clark County, contact us at Heidari Law Group today. You will not pay a fee until you win. We offer free case evaluations where we will provide you with a legal opinion on your situation.
In addition to providing representation for a car accident injury claim, we provide services for a wide variety of legal issues. If you or anyone you know is in need of legal assistance regarding personal injury, accidents involving motor vehicles, other accidents, civil rights, employment law, medical malpractice, product liability, and more contact us at one of our four office locations.
***Disclaimer: This blog is created by Heidari Law Group for educational purposes. This article provides a general understanding of the law. It does not provide specific advice. By using this site and reading through this blog, there is no attorney-client relationship created between you and any member of Heidari Law. Further, due to the constant change of the law, some parts of the information above may no longer be good law.