When to Hire a Personal Injury Lawyer
August 14, 2022
The civil court system sees many cases, and a portion has to do with personal injury. Personal injury lawsuits deal with people who suffered harm because of another entity’s negligence. Successful claims mean the injured party can pursue compensation for damages.
When you think about starting a lawsuit, you might consider finding a law firm. Some attorneys have expertise with negligent-related accidents. Your case can benefit from their services. However, you might wonder what the right time is to hire a personal injury lawyer.
A personal injury firm may have experience with motor vehicle accidents. Many lawyers help clients who have been in car accidents. However, some take cases of motorcycle and semi-trailer crashes as well. Even an injured pedestrian can rely on a personal injury lawyer after a collision.
According to a survey, roughly 21 percent of adults reported experiencing a medical error. Many others have had a loved one experience negligence in healthcare as well. A personal injury attorney may have the experience to get compensation for careless medical mistakes.
Medical malpractice cases can include misdiagnosis, prescription medication errors, and childbirth injuries. If you suspect a doctor failed to treat you properly, consult a personal injury lawyer. They can let you know if you have a case and what you can do next.
Another personal injury category attorneys may specialize in is product liability. In product liability cases, manufacturers and sellers are potentially liable for injuries. Attorneys can work to hold them responsible for damages a defective product caused.
Slip and Falls
Annually, over 8 million people have to receive treatment for a slip and fall accident. Many of them sustain injuries like fractures. Personal injury lawyers represent slip and fall clients and obtain compensation for medical expenses and lost wages.
Plenty of other traumatic events can fall under personal injury. You should find a lawyer who is familiar with situations like yours.
What Personal Injury Attorneys Do
Personal injury attorneys handle various duties when they work on a lawsuit. What they might do depends on the nature of the case.
Overall, the actions most lawyers do include:
- Investigate claims. Before a personal injury lawyer takes on a new client, they examine the claim. They want to know if the person has a valid case. Additionally, an attorney checks the potential worth and if the risks are high.
- Issue the demand letter. After a lawyer accepts a claim, they send the demand letter to the insurance company. The document lists the facts of the accident and how much the defendant owes in damages.
- Gather evidence. Personal injury cases center on the argument of negligence. To prove negligence, the plaintiff has to have supporting evidence. An attorney collects photos, video footage, witness statements, and anything else to help win a settlement.
- Handle the discovery process. A personal injury lawsuit may enter the discovery phase if both sides could not agree to a deal beforehand. The plaintiff’s lawyer sends requests to the defendant for specific information. They hold depositions for each party and witness as well.
- Negotiate with insurers. Lawyers have to negotiate with insurance companies to secure a fair settlement. They have experience with adjusters and can protect clients from significantly low offers. Attorneys have a 95 percent success rate in settling before a trial.
Your attorney deals with most of the legal aspects of your claim. Meanwhile, you can focus most of your attention on recovering from your injuries.
When to Hire a Personal Injury Lawyer
If your claim indicates it needs the assistance of a lawyer, you should find a personal injury firm immediately. The right time to hire a lawyer is shortly after the accident. While they do not have to, a person has multiple incentives to locate an attorney.
One of the reasons is the statute of limitations. Every state has a deadline for when people can request reimbursement for their losses. Some places give victims two years, and others grant four years from the day of the incident. Once enough time has passed, the injured party loses the right to compensation.
Furthermore, the attorney would have enough time to build a case. If someone hired a firm a few months before the deadline, their lawyer might struggle to gather evidence in time. If you act quickly, your attorney has the chance to create a strong argument and land a settlement.
Signs You Need to Hire a Personal Injury Lawyer
Some people might not need an attorney if their claims are straightforward. However, specific situations could mean representation is necessary.
A few signs you could need a personal injury lawyer are:
- Liability disputes. Evidence of wrongdoing might be unclear in some instances. As a result, the other side is likely to dispute negligence claims. Lawyers thoroughly investigate accidents and get compelling evidence to establish liability.
- Multiple negligent parties. A lawsuit could take longer and become more complicated if more than one party contributed to the accident. Many attorneys have experience with cases of multiple defendants.
- The insurance company applies pressure. Insurance adjusters tend to pressure and intimidate claimants into accepting a low settlement offer. Several try to convince people to give recorded statements. Insurers have other tactics, and a lawyer can shield you from them.
- Severe injuries. A personal injury accident can leave a person with severe bodily harm. In a few cases, the victim suffers from a permanent injury. As a result, the claim usually involves future expected costs and non-economic damages. Attorneys can help ensure you receive the maximum value of your case.
If you are unsure if you need a personal injury lawyer, go ahead and schedule a consultation. You can learn valuable information about your claim.
Reasons to Have an Attorney by Your Side
The expertise of a personal injury lawyer can benefit a case immensely. One reason to obtain the services of a firm is to maximize compensation. Many factors go into settlement calculations. Lawyers know what can increase or decrease the value of a claim.
Additionally, the worth of non-economic damages is not simple for someone to figure out. Multiple formulas exist to find an estimate for damages like mental anguish. Your personal injury lawyer understands the best way to get the highest value.
During litigation, you may require the help of an expert witness. An expert witness could be an accident reconstruction specialist or another doctor. The defendant can hire their own experts. Therefore, you need to choose the right person to bolster your claim.
Personal injury attorneys locate the expert witnesses a client’s case needs. They help plaintiffs with the selection process as well. While not every case requires an expert witness, a lawyer can hire the right one if your claim calls for one.
Help With the Settlement Process
While most lawsuits do not reach the courtroom, a person should still have a lawyer around for the settlement. The settlement process is not easy, but an attorney knows how to navigate it. They can think quickly during mediation to secure a fair deal.
Furthermore, your personal injury lawyer evaluates a settlement offer to see if it covers all your losses. The defendant might have left out specific damages in their calculation, but an attorney can spot the missing expenses. Your lawyer works hard to protect your best interests.
Qualities to Look For in a Personal Injury Lawyer
Not every personal injury law firm will be a good fit for an individual. Some personality styles do not work well together, and a lawyer might not have the right qualities. An attorney should display several characteristics, and one of them includes compassion.
Many clients are emotionally vulnerable following a traumatic event. In addition to professionalism, the lawyer should exhibit empathy and understanding. You should feel like a person rather than another case to settle when you are with your attorney.
Communication is necessary during the litigation process. Many plaintiffs do not have plenty of personal injury knowledge before they file their claim. Their lawyers need to explain legal jargon and the possible outcomes of their case.
Additionally, you should find a personal injury attorney who is responsive when you have questions. They should provide answers promptly. Moreover, the right lawyer will communicate with you if your claim experiences any progress.
Another aspect of a qualified personal injury lawyer is an experience with trials. While most lawsuits settle early, a person still has a slight chance of having to go to trial. Therefore, you need an attorney who knows how to fight for clients in the courtroom.
The chances of success can lower when a jury decides if the defendant is negligent. If you have a lawyer with trial experience, the potential for compensation may increase.
An attorney might only have seen the courtroom a couple of times during their years of practice. You can ask about their trial history during the initial meeting.
History of Success
The personal injury lawyer you hire should have a successful track record. They have handled plenty of claims like yours and negotiated significant settlements. They can explain what possible strategies could be effective for your case. You can trust your attorney to work toward the best potential outcome.
During the consultation, you can ask about the lawyer’s track record. You can visit the firm’s website for information as well. The site may list client testimonies and case results.
Another necessary quality is integrity since your attorney manages important information regarding your lawsuit. You should be able to trust them to keep the details safe and confidential. Furthermore, your lawyer needs to be honest and never make false promises.
You can find a different firm if you believe your lawyer does not live up to your standards. Plaintiffs usually can switch attorneys if necessary.
How Do You Pay Personal Injury Lawyers?
When people think of lawyer fees, they may imagine a couple of hundred dollars an hour. Firms in other practice areas of law may charge expensive hourly rates. However, most personal injury attorneys do not. Instead, they use contingency fee agreements as payment.
A contingency fee is a method of payment where the lawyer takes a portion of a client’s compensation. Essentially, you would not pay your attorney unless they win. The amount of money may vary, but the average size is 33 percent of the settlement.
Different factors can determine how much a person pays for a contingency fee. A personal injury attorney could charge more or less based on their location and the risk of the claim.
Furthermore, the lawyer can change the percentage as the case progresses. For example, an attorney might charge less if they settle early in the lawsuit timeline. However, they may take a larger portion if the case proceeds to trial.
Of course, other litigation costs may apply as well. Some firms deduct additional expenses before the contingency fee, and others remove them afterward. Your lawyer explains how they expect you to pay for their services during the initial consultation.
How to Prepare for a Consultation
A consultation takes place before you and your lawyer decide to work on your claim. The attorney reviews some of the facts to see if compensation is possible. Before the initial meeting, gather several essential documents to prepare.
Medical records and bills are among the various documents you should bring. Other relevant items include pay stubs, insurance details, and a police report if you have one. If you took photos of the accident or injury, you could bring them to the meeting.
You do not need to get every document. However, the attorney can provide a better understanding of the situation if they have more information to review. Contact a personal injury attorney today for more information.