Television and billboard advertising often carry messages from personal injury attorneys, and if you’ve seen an ad like this, you’ve probably wondered just what does a personal injury lawyer do? Most people believe personal injury lawyers have something to do with car accidents, and that is partially true. Personal injury lawyers do help people with car accidents, but their services go far beyond that.
What is a personal injury lawyer?
A personal injury lawyer is a licensed legal professional who helps people who have been injured because of the negligence or carelessness of another person. The personal injury lawyer will help you collect compensation for your injuries and losses by advising you and taking you through the steps necessary to negotiate a settlement. When an acceptable settlement can’t be reached, the personal injury attorney then typically takes the case to court.
Personal injury law focuses on “tort” law, which is the legal word used to describe a claim for wrongful conduct of another person when it causes harm to another. In general terms, personal injury lawyers make claims for compensation for their clients for medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
What kind of cases do personal injury lawyers handle?
While negligence is typically the basis for personal injury cases, it isn’t always so. As noted by the American Bar Association, strict liability and intentional wrongs are also categories personal injury cases can be based on. The three primary types of personal injury cases are:
- False imprisonment
What do personal injury lawyers do?
Your personal injury attorney will want to learn everything possible about your case and spend a great deal of time talking to you and investigating the facts surrounding the incident. They’ll seek out witnesses and look for evidence to support your case. The personal injury attorney may conduct the investigation themself or may hire an investigator to do the work. In addition to talking to witnesses, the investigation process involves obtaining photos of the scene where the incident occurred and vehicles involved, if there were any. It also involves gathering police or employer reports and documenting the state of the site where the incident occurred. This could include taking pictures of skid marks and other debris left at the scene.
It’s important to note that if your case involves a defective product, you’ll want to secure and keep the product that caused injury as it is evidence in the case. You’ll want to make sure the person representing you stores the product so it doesn’t wind up in the hands of the manufacturer of the product or their insurance company. If testing is conducted on the product, you’ll want to make sure it’s non-destructive as it allows analysis while still retaining evidence.
A product liability action involves filing a lawsuit, taking depositions, exchanging discovery, inspections, and many other steps before your personal injury attorney can evaluate the strength of your case. This involves a lot of research that entails evaluating statutes that apply and existing legal precedents. All of the research goes into the reasoning behind pursuing a claim that will require a responsible party to compensate you for a loss. Sometimes cases are cut and dry like simple auto accidents, but sometimes cases require a great deal of research and analysis.
How do personal injury claims work?
If you contact a personal injury lawyer because of a car accident or other incident, you can expect the following sequence of events to occur:
- The attorney will discuss the potential claim with you by phone and answer any questions you may have. If you’re not ready to move ahead, it’s okay. Your lawyer should be able to tell you if there is a statute of limitations that pertains to your case or if any parties have immunity.
- If there is a potential claim, the personal injury attorney will meet with you. You should insist on meeting with the attorney who will handle the case and not a paralegal or legal assistant. Make sure to bring the documents you have that concern the case, as well as photos or video you may have.
- During this first meeting with the attorney, you’ll discuss the facts of the accident in great detail. You can expect to cover the sequence of any medical treatment as well. The attorney will weigh in on the strengths and weaknesses of the case and fill you in on the process for handling the claim.
- The attorney will review things like accident reports, incident reports, photos, and correspondence, then determine what investigation to order. A letter will be sent to the insurance company advising them you are being represented by an attorney. The letter will seek preservation of any evidence and your attorney will request a copy of any statements you gave.
- Normally, medical record collection will begin at this stage. The attorney will order records from the emergency room or urgent care visits, and request any relevant pre-accident records.
- Once the patient completes medical treatment, all treatment records will be gathered.
- The attorney will review the medical records and determine if a doctor needs to be contacted to answer some pertinent questions, like what injuries the accident caused, if the injury got better or worse over time, and if there is likely to be future care.
- When that is done, the attorney will make a demand to the insurance company with a deadline for their response. We typically give the insurance company a 30-day deadline.
- After the attorney receives a response from the insurance company, the personal injury attorney will contact the client to discuss the offer. It is ultimately the client’s decision to settle the claim or to file a lawsuit.
- If the client wishes to resolve the matter, the personal injury attorney will notify the insurance company, and the settlement process begins.
- If the matter needs to progress to the lawsuit stage, then the attorney prepares a summons and complaint that is filed with the court. The insurance company answers the complaint, and the process continues with discovery, depositions, mediation, and potentially a trial.
When to get a personal injury lawyer
While there is no specific guideline on when to hire a personal injury attorney, it’s typically better to hire one sooner than later. That’s because after an accident, you’ll be asked to give statements to many parties that include the police, insurance companies, and possibly an HR department or representatives of a company. The days after an incident can be very confusing, and the best possible scenario is to not go without representation throughout any part of the process.
One of the benefits of hiring an attorney early is that it takes the burden of dealing with insurance companies away so you can focus on your health and get some rest. To prevent other parties from contacting you, your personal injury attorney will notify all parties involved that communication must go through the law firm. This helps the law firm track everything about your case.
How much does a personal injury lawyer cost?
If you’re wondering how much money it costs to hire a personal injury attorney, you can rest easy. Personal injury lawyers generally don’t charge you a fee until after there is a settlement or a jury verdict. That means you don’t have to save up to hire one. You should know that their compensation is based on the outcome of your case and, at the end, they will collect a fee oftentimes only if you win. Once your case is settled, the attorney will take their fee and make sure your medical bills have been paid. Then, they’ll give you a check for the balance of the money. The payment is compensation for the time spent investigating your case, gathering evidence, and building a solid case that will lead to a win.
We’re here to help
If you have been injured due to the negligence of another person or entity, we encourage you to get in touch so that we can explain your legal options and help make sure that you receive the compensation you deserve. You can call us at 414-271-1011or fill out this form.