Most people don’t think about hiring a lawyer until they need one. At that point, they often find themselves frantically searching the internet or asking friends for information. If you sustained injuries in an accident caused by someone else’s carelessness or recklessness, you could seek compensation for the psychological and monetary impacts of your injury. To do this, you can file a personal injury claim against a relevant insurance policy held by the at-fault party.
A personal injury lawyer can help you with this process. They can provide services that include helping you determine all sources of liability and available insurance resources, valuing your case, negotiating a settlement, litigating your case, and assisting you in obtaining the payment awarded through a settlement or court verdict.
What Type of Cases Does a Personal Injury Lawyer Handle?
Personal injury law is a broad umbrella of cases in which a person sustains injuries by another’s recklessness or carelessness (negligence).
A personal injury lawyer may handle cases involving:
- Motor vehicle accidents such as those involving passenger vehicles, commercial trucks, emergency vehicles, buses, rideshares, motorcycles, bicycles, pedestrians, aircraft, or watercraft. According to the National Safety Council, around 4.8 million people each year incur injuries in car accidents that require medical consultation.
- Medical malpractice involves an injury to a patient due to a healthcare provider’s error. Common types of errors that result in medical malpractice claims include diagnostic errors, prescription errors, failure to provide follow-up care, surgical errors, birth injuries, and inability to get informed consent before performing a procedure. According to a study by Johns Hopkins Medicine, more than 250,000 deaths in a year stemmed from medical errors, making them the third-leading cause of death behind cancer and heart disease.
- Premises liability matters, including slip-and-fall accidents, swimming pool accidents, faulty escalators and elevators, fires and flooding, negligent security, or dog bites. Slip-and-fall accidents are the most common type of premises liability claim. The National Floor Safety Institute noted that more than one million people went to U.S. emergency rooms to treat injuries from slips and falls in one year.
- Product defects include medications that pose dangerous side effects, contaminated food products that cause consumers to become sick, and faulty appliances and parts used on motor vehicles resulting in fires, accidents, and injury.
Qualities to Look for in a Personal Injury Lawyer
Once a person has determined that they need the services of a personal injury lawyer, the next order of business is deciding which lawyer to hire. You’ll likely have many personal injury lawyers in your area, and most will offer a free case evaluation. Free case evaluations are when you speak with an attorney about your demand, learn more about the process, and about the attorney and law firm they work for.
While the purpose of the case evaluation is to help you understand your legal options, it also serves as a way for you to interview attorneys interested in your claim. This way, you can find the injury lawyer you feel best represents your case. Here are a few qualities the personal injury lawyer you select should have.
Most victims settle their personal injury claims before they see the inside of a courtroom. According to Black’s Law Dictionary, 95 percent of lawsuits end in a pre-trial settlement, and those who file these cases settle them before a lawsuit occurs.
The main reason why personal injury cases tend to result in a settlement is that litigation is expensive and features an uncertain outcome for all parties involved. Because settlements are the most common way to resolve a personal injury claim, many personal injury lawyers will take on as many cases as possible and settle them as quickly as possible.
However, it is critical to understand that because your claim will likely result in a settlement, there is no guarantee it will. If the insurance company fails to offer you a fair agreement, the court is your remaining option for acquiring the payment you need. Having an attorney who doesn’t just settle claims but also has enough courtroom experience to litigate them confidently is essential.
One of the most crucial qualities of an effective personal injury lawyer is the ability to communicate.
They use this skill throughout the claim by Communicating with:
- You about your case, providing regular updates, and helping you understand the value of your claim so that you can make informed decisions about matters such as accepting a settlement offer or filing a lawsuit.
- The at-fault party’s insurance provider about the accident that caused your injury, the nature and severity of the injury, and the negative impacts the injuries have had on your life.
- Witnesses to draw the necessary information to prove your claim.
- Your legal team regarding documents and evidence that needs gathering before you make a demand to the insurance provider.
- A judge or jury to tell your story in court in a way that helps them understand the severity of your injury and the clarity of the defendant’s liability.
Because communication is such a decisive part of having a successful outcome to your claim, you want a responsive attorney. This is an attorney who will return your phone calls and will work to respond promptly to requests from the at-fault party’s insurance provider or the court. Your attorney understands that there is a statute of limitations on your claim, which is the legal deadline for filing a lawsuit in court.
Missing this deadline will result in losing your right to use the court system when seeking remuneration for your injury. Additionally, the insurance provider is no longer required to resolve your claim if the statute of limitations has passed. A responsive attorney will not only keep you and the at-fault insurance provider informed during settlement negotiations but will also respond to the court’s requirements for filing a personal injury lawsuit.
The Desire to Help You Achieve Your Claim’s Goals
The goal of most individuals who have sustained injuries in an accident is to receive reparation for the monetary expenses and wage loss they incurred due to the injury and restitution for the pain and suffering, emotional distress, and other profound impacts of the injury. It is great to have a personal injury lawyer assisting you who has listened to your story, understood the needs that you have communicated to them, and legitimately wants to help you receive the most settlement available for you.
A common misconception is that personal injury attorneys only want to make money for themselves. However, it is imperative to understand that personal injury lawyers use a contingent fee billing method. This means they do not require an upfront retainer and will not send you bills for service while your claim is active.
Instead, they enter into a contingent fee agreement with you that designates a percentage of your atonement to pay your legal team for their services. You will know how much of the award is designated for your attorney before the claim is received, and you are not responsible for paying for the attorney’s fees until there is a positive outcome to your claim. If you lose your case, you don’t have to pay for the work your legal team did.
The contingent fee billing method ensures that anyone can afford to hire a personal injury lawyer to help them with their claim. The attorney and their team will begin working immediately and be motivated to continue working until a resolution occurs.
Attention to Detail
The personal injury claims process revolves around documentation. To prove your case, your attorney and their legal team will gather medical documentation, information about your wages, wage loss, and property damage you suffered, and the impacts of your injury on your quality of life. To properly value your claim, the attorney must consider your expenses, the amount of insurance money available for your claim, the presence of permanent injuries that will impair your ability to earn an income, and much more.
Attorneys have legal teams to help collect this mass of documentation while managing settlement negotiations, court filings, and the deadline.
Attention to detail is a necessary quality for your attorney because missing relevant details can result in missed deadlines, forgotten expenses, and a lower value to your claim.
An Extensive Network
One of the benefits of having a national law firm on your side is that they tend to have extensive resources to use while building your case. They have a large network of legal professionals, medical experts, and accident reconstruction specialists to turn to if additional input or expert testimony is required.
One of the services that a personal injury lawyer can provide through their extensive network is the ability to secure medical treatment even if you cannot afford it now. In many cases, an attorney can help their client procure medical treatment from providers who will agree to wait until you have received damages and collect payment for their services through a medical lien on the award.
A Good Reputation
A good reputation is not only a reflection of a personal injury attorney who has a track record of winning cases but also a reflection of the respect and accolades they’ve earned from their peers, the court, and even insurance companies that the attorney has been in negotiations with before.
When attending a case evaluation with a lawyer you’re considering hiring for your case, it is acceptable to request references from past clients who have also worked with the attorney. It is paramount to look up their website and look for them on popular review sites to get a glance at what other clients have appreciated about the services the firm has provided and any issues past clients have had with the firm.
Potential Red Flags When Choosing a Personal Injury Lawyer
The list above contains several qualities that an experienced personal injury lawyer should have. Unfortunately, while many personal injury lawyers could help you with your claim, others are less likely to obtain the desired results.
Some of the red flags to watch out for when selecting a personal injury lawyer include:
- The lawyer never returned your phone call or contacted you online after you requested a case evaluation. Because communication is a major part of a successful personal injury claim, a lawyer who fails to even begin that communication with you is likely not the right legal professional to help you with your claim.
- The lawyer guarantees that they will get a deal for a specific amount of money. An experienced lawyer knows better than to guarantee a settlement or that the settlement will be for a certain amount. The only guarantee they should make is that you only pay for your attorney if they win your case and that they will fight hard for the most compensation possible.
- The lawyer doesn’t feel like you have a strong case. Because personal injury lawyers only get paid once you get a resolution to your claim, they generally will not take cases they don’t think they can win. If the lawyer doesn’t seem enthusiastic about the case, it doesn’t necessarily mean you don’t have a case, but it does mean you haven’t found the right lawyer to assist you.
You never need to hire an attorney who provides you with a free case evaluation. Evaluations should come not only without cost but also without obligation.
To find a personal injury lawyer, the points listed above and will lead you to an excellent attorney who can help you receive the compensation you deserve.