Getting involved in legal action can seem like a daunting task, and if you’ve been injured — whether through a car accident, a botched surgery, or another means — it may seem like too much trouble to go through the effort of finding legal representation. But the right personal injury lawyer should make your life easier, and ultimately aid you in getting the compensation you deserve after undue suffering.
So where is one to begin when it comes to finding a personal injury lawyer, and how does filing a claim work? Read on to learn about the intricacies of personal injury law, and how to establish the best attorney client relationship.
What Do Personal Injury Lawyers Handle?
Before you begin the process of trying to find a personal injury lawyer, you may want to know more about this area of law. Personal injury law pertains to negligent acts — so lawyers in these types of law firms represent people who have been harmed in some way by another person, a corporation, or the government.
This could involve anything from transportation accidents (car, bikes, boat, airplane, pedestrian, or more), poor security that leads to an accident, poor site design that leads to harm, negligent animal oversight that leads to an accident, or construction, hospital, or nursing home incidents. Malpractice within the medical field is a major aspect of personal injury law.
Personal injury law can be intentional (something done on purpose) or negligent (a failure to act or meet a certain level of care). If you’re not sure if something you’ve experienced falls under personal injury law, many lawyers offer a free initial consultation — reach out to a law firm and see if your case is worth pursuing.
How Do I Know Who Is a Good Personal Injury Lawyer?
You may have seen billboards along the freeway or late-night television ads promoting personal injury law firms or personal injury attorneys, but this is not the ideal way to pick the best lawyer. Depending on what injury you’ve experienced, a lawyer may even reach out to you. If you’ve experienced a vehicle accident, it’s not uncommon for a lawyer to solicit accident victims in the hopes of getting their legal case.
Instead of taking up these lawyers on their offers, you’ll want to do some research to make sure you pick the right lawyer for your case. First, you’ll want someone with experience — not only many years of practice but specific experience in the field of personal injury law.
Personal injury lawyers who have never represented someone harmed in a construction accident, for instance, would not be the right fit for you if that’s your exact case. Since personal injury cases can pertain to many things, as noted above, ask your personal injury attorney if they have represented a case like yours before.
Again, many firms offer a free consultation, so you can conduct this research without spending any money on legal fees. Law firms that ask for payment upfront for a simple consultation should be avoided, and can easily be crossed off your list.
What Qualifications Should They Have?
Any lawyer you choose must have the correct board certification. In order to receive board certification, an attorney receives referrals from others in the legal community, and have experience trying personal injury cases in court. Although board certification isn’t the only thing that proves a lawyer’s experience, it’s not something that should be overlooked when selecting legal representation.
You’ll also, of course, want to know how successful they have been in past settlements. Most personal injury attorneys should be able to get the compensation you deserve without going to trial, so ask them clearly how their previous cases have gone.
If they don’t want to share this information with you, then they aren’t the right attorney for your case. You can even ask for feedback from past satisfied clients. Don’t choose an attorney based on their promises, but on their actual results.
You can also ask around for free advice or referrals from family members. A surprising number of people have experience with personal injury litigation, and may be able to recommend a lawyer or a law firm that they trust.
Make sure, finally, that you choose someone who understands your needs and your desired outcome. Ultimately, you want to get along and see eye-to-eye on fair compensation for your case, as you’ll be spending a lot of time with this person.
How Much Will It Cost?Finding a Personal Injury Lawyer
As mentioned, most lawyers will offer an initial free consultation to learn about your case. Beyond this, you might be worried that you’ll rack up significant legal fees.
Fear not! A good lawyer who believes in the power of your case will work on what’s known as a contingency fee basis. Essentially, this means that they won’t charge you anything, but will take a percentage of your compensation when you settle your case.
A contingency basis is normal practice, but be wary of any fine print — lawyers will often still charge you for expenses, such as medical records, a police report, or other documents that are needed to reach a fair settlement.
Make sure you find out in advance what your lawyer’s policy is on out-of-pocket expenses, and what your reimbursement responsibilities will be in the event that you do not win your case.
You also want to make sure that the personal injury attorney you’re hiring is financially prepared for your case if it seems significant — i.e., if it involves what’s known as “catastrophic injuries,” there will be many more upfront fees to pay. An experienced law firm will be able to take on these fees and responsibilities, but you don’t want to hire someone who cannot support the needs of the case.
What Will My Personal Injury Lawyer Do for Me?
Once you finally choose a personal injury lawyer, you may be wondering: What, exactly, do they do? The answer is: A lot! If a personal injury lawyer has agreed to take on your case on a contingency fee basis, that means they have faith you’ll win — but they need to put in the work to reach that fair settlement.
An experienced personal injury attorney will usually start to build your case by putting together evidence. They’ll interview or gather testimony from witnesses, gather important documents, and may even work with medical professionals to provide documented treatment of your injuries.
Another massive advantage of working with a personal injury lawyer is that they’ll handle negotiations with any insurance companies. Insurance companies have their own lawyers who are used to the nuances of personal injury cases, but experienced lawyers are able to communicate with your insurance company and ultimately procure the maximum compensation from your insurance company.
Your lawyer will also handle official legal processes, such as sending a formal demand letter to your insurance company, preparing complaints against defendants, initiating discovery (which includes issuing depositions), and more. If you’ve been harmed as a result of someone else’s negligence, the right lawyer is crucial in getting you the help you need and making sure the at fault party is found guilty.
How Will My Personal Injury Case Go?
Personal injury cases can vary greatly depending on how large your personal injury claim is and the type of case it is. An experienced personal injury lawyer should be able to give you their prediction on how long the case will last, and how much your case might be worth. However, even their timelines can be thrown off by the other parties involved — even the best personal injury lawyer can’t be responsible for third-party delays or slow-to-respond insurance companies.
There are many types of compensation that you might be able to receive depending on the injury, or injuries, you’ve experienced, and a good personal injury lawyer will be able to help you get what you deserve. From obvious compensation like lost wages or medical expenses to things like pain and suffering or emotional distress, an experienced lawyer will help you return to a normal life.
How Long Does It Usually Take to Receive Compensation for Personal Injury Claims?
Many times, a personal injury case never makes it to trial — it’s settled between both lawyers, or moves to a moderated, closed-door process known as mediation. Many personal injury lawyers don’t even have trial-based experience, since they so often settle their cases.
When choosing the best personal injury lawyer, you’ll want to make sure you pick someone who has had trial experience, in case your claim can’t be solved between lawyers or with mediation. Mediation is a much preferred way to handle your personal injury case, as going to trial is time consuming and costly.
Ultimately, depending on the nuances of your personal injury case, you could have a settlement in just a few months — or it could take years. Once the case is officially settled, the financial business can be handled.
First, expenses (such as outstanding medical bills or repair bills from a car accident) will need to be paid. Then lawyer fees are paid (which, again, should have been set upfront). Finally, a check for the residual amount will be made out to the victim. This entire payment process can take a couple of weeks, again depending on the intricacies of the legal case.
If you’ve been the victim of negligent or intentional injury, you deserve compensation — and working with a personal injury lawyer is the path forward. Injured people can begin their search for the best personal injury lawyer by meeting with multiple lawyers for an initial consultation, making sure other lawyers have vetted their attorney and ensuring the law practice is able to handle a case of their size.
Another option is to use a service that can assist you in finding a personal injury lawyer to discuss your case.
The right personal injury lawyer will do all of the legwork for your case, and most of the time, settle your claim without needing to go to trial. They’ll interact with your insurance company, gather evidence, and file documents on your behalf. The right personal injury lawyer can make all the difference in restoring your quality of life after an accident.