What is a Personal Injury Lawyer?

what is a personal injury lawyer

According to the National Center for Health Statistics, there are 39.5 million physician office visits every year for unintentional injuries.  There are also 29.4 million emergency room department visits for injuries.

If you have ever wondered “What is a personal injury lawyer?” you are not alone. Let’s take a look at what should be done if you are injured and how to hire a personal injury attorney.

The First Thing to Do When Injured

You are injured in a car crash or slip in the water on the floor at the grocery store. You are on a carnival ride when something goes wrong, sending you to the emergency room. Maybe you fall on ice outside your apartment building.

These injuries and numerous others may be a reason for filing a personal injury lawsuit. Lawsuits are won based on evidence. That is why you must seek immediate medical treatment.

One of the critical pieces of evidence in a lawsuit is proving the injury and its severity. Personal injury doctors specialize in medical treatment for those suffering from accidental injuries.

With today’s concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic, you may be hesitant to seek medical treatment. There is an alternative to physically visiting a doctor’s office regularly. Many personal injury doctors are now using telemedicine services.

This service allows you to conduct doctor appointments by computer instead of in person. Make sure you keep copies of all medical records and bills. These are important to your claim.

What Is a Personal Injury Lawyer?

An attorney who specializes in assisting people who have been injured as the result of another person’s negligence are personal injury lawyers. Each attorney may handle a wide range of injury cases or specialize in only 1-2 areas. The most common injuries handled are slip and fall, defective products, medical malpractice, injuries at work, and car crashes.

The attorney will advocate on your behalf to make sure you receive all the compensation you are entitled to. This includes getting your medical bills paid, covering lost wages, negotiating with the insurance company, and filing a lawsuit.

The Attorney Consultation

To help the attorney provide you with the best estimate on your case, you will need to provide as much information as possible. Take with you any accident reports, a list of all medical providers, and medical records related to the accident.

The attorney will request your personal information. They will make sure they have your legal name, address, phone number, email address, age, the place you work, marital status, and how many children you have.

The attorney may ask about your personal interests, hobbies, and other ways you spend your free time. They will ask about your criminal history, if you have been injured in any prior accidents, and if you have been involved in any other lawsuits.

Be honest and forthcoming with information. Your personal injury lawyer is not trying to judge you. They need to know everything the other side may dig up, trying to discredit your claim.

The insurance company is out to win, and they will try to use your moral character, prior driving record, previous injuries, and more to claim they have no liability.

Do not be concerned about the attorney knowing your history. They represent you, and their job is to present you to the court in the most favorable light.

This information lets them get to know you on a personal level and the impact of your injuries on your life. It also helps them be prepared for any claims the insurance company or opposing counsel may make about you.

Once the attorney has your personal information, they will ask you questions about the incident that resulted in your injury. They will also review any documents you brought with you.

Case Assessment

The personal accident attorney will provide an objective opinion on your case. This is their assessment of whether or not you have a legal claim and what they think the chances are of you obtaining a settlement.

It is normal for a client to want an attorney to tell them they will win. Attorneys cannot guarantee the outcome of a court case. There are too many factors involved, including evidence, presented, witness testimony, how the parties present themselves, and jury or judge’s determination of the facts presented and law.

The Retainer Agreement

If you decide to hire the attorney they will have you sign a contract, frequently referred to as a retainer or contingency agreement. This contract spells out the details of what the attorney is hired to do and what the fees will be.

The contract will state that you have hired the attorney to represent you in a personal injury claim and will list the specific incident or injury suffered and the date on which it occurred.

Most accident attorneys handle cases on a contingency fee basis. A contingency fee is an attorney fee based on a percentage of the amount won in the lawsuit. Contingency fees are normally 1/3 of the recovery.

With a contingency fee, the lawyer does not collect a fee unless the case is won. If you lose, you will not get any money and the lawyer will not get any fees for his work on the case.

Your contingency agreement will spell out your responsibility for costs, which are not part of the attorney’s fees. These will be your responsibility to pay and will include things like court filing fees, deposition fees, copy fees, medical record fees, and office incidentals such as postage and copy service.

Do I Really Need an Attorney?

Your insurance company is obligated to pay, so why hire an attorney? Because an insurance company is out to make money, not pay claims.

The insurance company will make an offer and push you to accept quickly. This is because they have made you a low-ball offer and are hoping you will sign a settlement agreement, eliminating your chance for receiving a higher amount later.

Personal injury claims are complicated. Your personal injury attorney knows how to file requests for police reports, video evidence, and medical records. They will have access to medical experts who can provide a non-biased analysis of your injuries.

The attorney will send a demand letter to the insurance company. A demand letter states the facts of your case and may sight law in your favor. The letter will demand a specific amount to be paid for the damages you suffered.

Demand letters do not usually result in settlement. They do let the insurance company know you are being legally represented and set the negotiation process in motion.

If the personal injury attorney is unable to obtain a reasonable settlement, they will file a lawsuit.  The attorney knows the statute of limitations requires the lawsuit to be filed within 2-3 years. If you exceed the statute you can no longer file your claim.

The Court Process

A good accident attorney knows the legal process. They know how to properly write and file the lawsuit, complete a summons, file it with the court, and provide proof of service. They know how long the defendant has to answer, and steps to take if no answer is filed.

If the insurance company files a counter-complaint, the attorney will prepare and file an answer. A personal injury lawyer understands the Civil Practice Laws & Rules Law. They will make sure that the lawsuit is not dismissed because of a missed deadline.

In addition to the basic pleadings and answers, either side may file motions to request additional orders from the judge. Motions require answers to be filed, and may also require a legal brief filed with them. A judge may also require both parties to submit briefs on a specific area of the case.

A legal brief is a document that an attorney prepares to give a legal basis on why their client should win the case. It must contain specific information written in the proper order. This includes an introduction, table of authorities, statement of facts, law that backs your position, and a conclusion.

Your case may have several court appearances, including settlement conferences, pretrial, and trial. Your attorney will appear with you in court and present the case on your behalf. They are comfortable with procedures and how to present your case.

If your case goes to trial, attorneys are familiar with the trial process. Trial preparations include subpoenaing witnesses, preparing exhibits, filing of witness and exhibit lists, and preparation of jury instructions.

Trial preparation includes specific procedures and deadlines. If not done properly and within the proper time frame, you may not be able to present evidence or have witnesses testify.

To ensure you get the best possible outcome, it is recommended you at least consult with an attorney before signing any paperwork regarding your case.

Don’t Hesitate

If you suffer injuries as a result of an accident, do not try to evaluate your case on your own. Your first step is to contact us to find a personal injury doctor and begin the healing process.

The second call should be to a professional attorney who can help you answer the question “What is a personal injury lawyer?” by giving you an overview of what they can do for you.

Call 1-800-897-8440 to find an experienced personal injury doctor near you today and get on your way to recovery.

 

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