When to Hire a Personal Injury Lawyer

When to Hire a Personal Injury Lawyer
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Personal injury claims generally arise when someone is injured due to another person’s negligence. That is, the negligent party did not act as a reasonable person would have under the circumstances by exercising common sense and good judgment. Because courts cannot heal injuries or go back in time to prevent them, the injured person is compensated with a sum of money. A successful personal injury claim allows the injured person to recover money for purposes such as to pay medical bills, replace wages if they cannot work, or make amends for the pain and suffering they have experienced.

If you were injured, you may be thinking about whether you should bring a personal injury lawsuit. Hiring a lawyer who has expertise in personal injury is the best way to determine whether you should bring a lawsuit and ensure you get the best possible outcome for any claims you pursue.

What Personal Injury Cases Do Lawyers Handle?

When to Hire a Personal Injury LawyerThere are many types of personal injury claims. Unintentional injuries account for  97.9 million visits to the emergency room and are the fourth highest cause of death in the United States. When those injuries were caused by another person’s negligence, they may be the basis for a personal injury lawsuit. The most common causes of personal injury include:

Car, Truck, Motorcycle, or other Vehicle Accidents

One of the most common causes of personal injury is negligent driving. At Gruel Mills, we have extensive experience with accidents involving cars, SUVs, trucks, semi-trailer trucks, farm equipment, buses, taxis, ride sharing vehicles, motorcycles, pedestrians, off-road vehicles, boats, and bicyclists. Michigan’s No-Fault law governs most of these cases and controls when a negligence lawsuit can be filed.

Medical Malpractice

More than 1 in 10 patients are harmed in the course of their medical care, and half of those injuries are preventable. Medical malpractice generally arises from the failure to diagnose a disease or condition, a mistake during surgery, other improper treatment, or adverse drug events. Other cases arise from adverse reactions or improper use of anesthesia, lack of informed consent, or improper monitoring. If you suspect a doctor failed to treat you properly, consult a personal injury lawyer at Gruel Mills. We can let you know if you have a case and what you can do next.

Product Liability

Dangerous products can cause injury, either because they have a dangerous design or something went wrong when it was manufactured.  In product liability cases, manufacturers and sellers are potentially liable for injuries. These cases frequently arise from defective medical devices, such as hip or knee replacements, implants, mesh, and other objects that stay in the body. We work to hold irresponsible manufacturers liable for injuries caused by a dangerous or defective product.

Slip and Falls

Annually, over 8 million people have to receive emergency room treatment for a fall, and 1 million of those are from slip and fall accidents. Landowners have different duties to trespassers, social guests, and those who visit their premises for business purposes regarding what they must do to protect people from falls and other dangers on their land. Slip and falls can result in serious injuries.

Dog Bites

Although most dogs are beloved members of our families, occasionally a dog will attack and injure an innocent bystander. Michigan law holds dog owners liable for such attacks so long as the dog was not provoked.

Work Site Injuries

Construction sites, factories, and distribution hubs can be dangerous places. Michigan’s Workers’ Compensation law limits negligence claims against a direct employer, but in some circumstances successful claims can be made against an employer or third parties who were present on the scene.

There are only a few of the types of claims that cause personal injury. At Gruel Mills, we have experience in helping people who have been injured in many different ways. Contact us if you think you may have a personal injury claim.

What Personal Injury Attorneys Do

Personal injury attorneys handle various duties when they work on a lawsuit. What they do depends on the nature of the case. The lawyer’s duties generally 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 and what the damages are, to determine if filing the case will be worthwhile for the client.
  • Issue the demand letter. After a lawyer accepts a claim, they generally send a demand letter to the defendant or their insurance company. This document explains the facts of the accident and how much the defendant owes in damages.
  • Gather evidence. Personal injury cases center on the existence of negligence. To prove negligence, the plaintiff has to have supporting evidence. An attorney collects photos, video footage, witness statements, and other evidence to help prove your case.
  • Handle the discovery process. A personal injury lawsuit may enter the discovery phase if both sides could not agree to a deal before the complaint is filed. The plaintiff’s lawyer sends requests to the defendant for specific information and reviews information disclosed by the defendant. They may conduct depositions of the parties and witnesses to determine what those people know.
  • Negotiate with insurers. Lawyers often have to negotiate with insurance companies to secure a fair settlement. They have experience with adjusters and can protect clients from accepting unfairly 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 you think you may have a personal injury claim, you should find an attorney to represent you immediately. The right time to hire a lawyer is shortly after the accident. There are many benefits to getting an attorney involved in your case as soon as possible.

Every claim has a statute of limitations, which is the deadline for when a claim must be filed. Many types of claims also have deadlines for when the defendant must be put on notice of the injury and impending suit. If these deadlines are missed, the injured party loses the right to compensation. An experienced personal injury lawyer will make sure that the lawsuit and any necessary notices are timely issued if they are aware of your claim in time.

Furthermore, the earlier an attorney is involved, the more time they have to gather evidence and build your case. If there are only a few months left before the statute of limitations, it may not be possible to gather all of the evidence in time, or some of it could have been lost or forgotten. Your attorney has the best chance to create a strong case if they are involved from the very beginning.

Signs You Need to Hire a Personal Injury Lawyer

You may not need an attorney to make a straightforward claim to an insurance company, but most people will benefit from an attorney’s involvement in a personal injury case.

A few signs you could need a personal injury lawyer are:

  • Liability disputes. It may be unclear in some instances which party is at fault for your injuries and thus liable for your damages. Defendants may point the finger at other people or claim that you were at fault for your own injuries. If this happens, lawyers will thoroughly investigate the case and collect evidence to establish who is liable.
  • Multiple negligent parties. A lawsuit could take longer and become more complicated if more than one party contributed to the accident. We have experience negotiating among multiple parties in these cases.
  • The insurance company applies pressure. Insurance adjusters may try to pressure and intimidate claimants into accepting a low settlement offer. An insurer may try to convince you to give recorded statements or conduct surveillance on you. Insurers use these and other tactics to minimize the amount they will need to pay on a claim, and a lawyer can shield you from them.
  • Severe injuries. A personal injury accident can leave a person with severe bodily harm or permanent injuries. 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 and that your future needs are taken care of.

If you are unsure if you need a personal injury lawyer, go ahead and schedule a free consultation with Gruel Mills. You can learn valuable information about your claim with no obligation.

Reasons to Have an Attorney by Your Side

Maximum Compensation

The expertise of a personal injury lawyer can benefit a case immensely. One reason to obtain the services of a lawyer 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 recovery.

Hiring the Right Expert Witnesses

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 know how to 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 person 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, and an attorney knows how to navigate it. They can think quickly during negotiations to secure you a fair deal.

Furthermore, your personal injury lawyer can evaluate a settlement offer to see if it covers all your losses. The defendant might have left out specific damages in their calculations, 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

Compassion

It is important to find a personal injury lawyer who feels like a good fit.

Important characteristics for attorneys include professionalism, compassion, empathy, and understanding. You should feel like a person rather than just another case to settle when you are with your attorney.

Prompt Communication

Communication is necessary during the litigation process. A good lawyer will explain the litigation process, the legal jargon involved, and the possible outcomes of the 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.

Trial Experience

Another aspect of a qualified personal injury lawyer is experience with trials. While most lawsuits ultimately settle, there is still a chance that your claim will go to trial. Therefore, you need an attorney who knows how to fight for clients in the courtroom to ensure you get the best possible outcome.

History of Success

The personal injury lawyer you hire should have a successful track record. They should have handled plenty of claims like yours and negotiated significant settlements. They must be able to explain what possible strategies could be effective for your case. You should feel like you can trust your attorney to work toward the best potential outcome in your case.

During the initial consultation, you can ask about the lawyer’s track record. Law firm websites often contain information regarding the lawyer’s past cases, as well as client testimonials and case results.

Integrity

Another necessary quality in an attorney is integrity. You should be able to trust them to keep the details of your case 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 can usually switch attorneys at any time if necessary.

How Do You Pay Personal Injury Lawyers?

When people think of lawyer fees, they may imagine paying a couple of hundred dollars an hour or paying a multi-thousand-dollar retainer. Firms in other practice areas of law may charge expensive hourly rates or require a retainer. However, most personal injury attorneys do not. Instead, contingency fee agreements are common in personal injury cases.

A contingency fee is a method of payment where the lawyer takes a portion of a client’s compensation if and when the case is successful. You do not have to pay anything up front or by the hour, and you do not pay your attorney at all unless or until you win your case. The amount of money may vary, but most personal injury attorneys are paid one third of the settlement. You may also be responsible for paying costs and expenses of litigation out of the settlement or judgment.

Your lawyer should explain in detail during the initial consultation how they expect you to pay for their services.

How to Prepare for a Consultation

Scott R. Melton - Lawyer for Personal Injury near Grand Rapids area
Scott R. Melton, Personal Injury Attorney in Grand Rapids

A consultation takes place before you and your lawyer decide to work together on your claim. The attorney reviews some of the facts to see if it would be in your best interests to pursue the claim. Before the initial meeting, it is helpful to gather several essential documents to prepare: bring any medical records and bills, pay stubs, insurance claim forms, and a police report if you have one. If you took photos of the accident or injury, you should bring them to the meeting as well.

You do not need to have every document in hand before a consultation; your attorney can subpoena more information when the lawsuit is filed. However, the attorney can provide a better understanding of the situation if they have more information to review. Contact a personal injury attorney today if you think you may have a case.