Both disabilities and injuries are tragically common. They can occur anywhere from a workplace incident to a car accident and beyond. In many cases, an injury or a disability puts a significant drain on your finances. This makes consulting with a personal injury attorney or disability attorney necessary. If you or someone you know intends to open a claim, or is in the process of opening one, it could be beneficial for them to hire a personal injury lawyer or disability lawyer to represent them.
What is the Difference Between a Personal Injury and a Disability?
Though personal injuries and disabilities are related, several key legal differences exist. Keep these in mind when opening a claim and when hiring an attorney. Firstly, the length of the lasting effect matters. We typically consider an injury the more minor, of the two. You might recover from an injury in a matter of weeks, while physical disabilities typically last a lifetime.
The financial burden for an injury holds a different weight than that for a disability.
Personal injuries may leave you taking weeks off work for recovery time. You may incur hospital bills or medication costs.
However, a physical disability may leave you unable to work altogether. Furthermore, disability hospital bills typically grow, over time. They simply don’t come once or twice, like you’d see with a personal injury case.
Before you determine which type of lawyer you hire, look at the road ahead. Will you purse a personal injury claim. Or, will you need to file for a disability claim?
When Should I Hire a Personal Injury or Disability Attorney?
If you have a disability and intend to open a Social Security or SSI claim. Or, if you started a claim that your insurance denied, hiring a disability or personal injury lawyer increases your chances of success. Having a disability lawyer can help speed up what can be an incredibly long, arduous, and stressful process for the claimant. The Social Security Act and its regulations surrounding disabilities winds with complexities.
Statistics show that claimants with a disability lawyer representing them at their hearings are twice as likely to be approved. Disability lawyers can be helpful in ensuring your medical records are complete. Physicians are more likely to respond to a disability lawyer’s request for information than to one of their patients. They can also help prepare you for questioning and will tell you what to expect in a hearing. This can be instrumental in reducing the anxiety surrounding a hearing.
For personal injury cases involving severe injuries, malpractice, or toxic exposure, you will absolutely want to consult a lawyer.
Sometimes injuries straddle the line between bad and “not too bad”. And, sometimes the responsible party refuses to accept liability. These things happen, and they happen often, unfortunately. Hiring a personal injury lawyer may seem like a bit of a wash, in this example. But, most of us offer free consultations for this very reason. Wading into the murky waters of injury claims, especially when moderate to severe injuries exist, typically needs the guidance of a personal injury attorney.
What Will it Cost to Hire a Personal Injury or Disability Attorney?
Disability Lawyer Fees
Most disability lawyers will not charge any upfront fees when taking on a disability case. They will instead only charge a fee if they win the case. We call this a “contingency fee”. This means the lawyer must win the case before receiving payment. This contingency fee usually falls around 25% of the past-due benefits their client receives, up to a certain amount. If the judge doesn’t award past-due benefits, the lawyer receives no fee. When you hire a disability lawyer, you must sign a fee agreement that will allow the Social Security Administration to pay your lawyer the appropriate amount directly from your past-due benefits, should you be awarded any.
In some very specific cases, attorneys are allowed to submit a fee petition that will allow them to charge their clients a fee even if the SSA has not ruled in favor of awarding benefits. This can occur if multiple attorneys from different law firms have worked on your case; if you received past-due benefits after your attorney withdrew from your case; if your case goes to federal court; or if your case is ultimately denied by the SSA. In this last case, however, while the law does not prevent an attorney from submitting a fee petition, if an appropriate fee agreement was drawn up when the disability lawyer was hired, the attorney will not be able to collect a fee under the fee petition.
Personal Injury Lawyer Fees
There are several ways a personal injury lawyer’s fees can be paid, but the most common is the contingency fee. However, there are three variations on the traditional contingency fee that a personal injury attorney and their clients can employ:
- Mixed hourly/contingent. The personal injury lawyer will charge their client a reduced hourly fee whatever the outcome of the claim. If the case is decided in favor of the plaintiff, the lawyer will receive a “bonus”, typically a percentage of what has been awarded the plaintiff.
- Sliding scale contingency. The personal injury lawyer’s fees will still only be paid if their client wins the case, but the longer the litigation progresses, the attorney will claim a larger percentage of the past-due benefits. For example, if the case is settled in the plaintiff’s favor without a lawsuit being filed, the personal injury lawyer’s contingency fee may remain at 25%. If the case goes all the way through trial, the percentage may become 40.
- Contingency hourly. This is similar to sliding scale contingency, except the personal injury lawyer’s fees will increase based solely on the amount of time they spend on the case, no matter how far the litigation process progresses. This is the least common of the three arrangements.
With so many different ways to arrange payment personal injury and disability lawyers are extremely accessible to their clientele, many of whom have reduced financial ability due to their injury or disability.
Will a Personal Injury or Disability Attorney Deny My Case?
Because a personal injury or disability lawyer will most of the time only be paid if they win their case, they are sometimes selective about the cases they accept. For instance, if a claimant has fired multiple disability lawyers or personal injury lawyers over the course of their claim, other lawyers may decline to work with that claimant. Lawyers may also deny a case if the applicant is under the age of 45, due to the decreased likelihood that a person younger than that will be seriously disabled or injured. For these reasons, it is important to be honest with your prospective disability lawyer or personal injury lawyer when you are considering hiring them.
The nature of personal injury and disability claims become particularly convoluted and confusing. For this reason, many claimants seek the advice of a personal injury lawyer or a disability lawyer to represent them. If you need a personal injury lawyer’s assistance. Or, if you have questions about a specific case, give us a call at 318-383-0094. You can also request a free consultation.