What are lawyers good for? Making used car salesman look good.
All lawyer jokes aside, personal injury attorneys serve an important role in society. Let's take a look at some of the ways personal injury attorneys make a difference.
Deter bad behavior
Personal injury attorneys specialize in an area of law known as tort law. The main goal of tort law is to compensate injured victims. But tort law has a second, equally important, goal. Tort law serves to deter unreasonably dangerous or negligent behavior by individuals and businesses.
Let's take a look at an example.
As early as 1930, companies were aware of the dangers of asbestos exposure. However, tort law wasn't recognized in most states at the time and the laws were such that companies had no fear of being sued by employees when the symptoms appeared years (or decades) down the road.
This changed in the 1960's when tort law became widely recognized and courts began interpreting the statute of limitations to allow employees to sue their employers at the time they discovered the harm caused by asbestos (even though this was often long after they were exposed).
As a consequence, the number of asbestos lawsuits increased dramatically and by the late 1970's pressure from those lawsuits caused companies to eliminate asbestos from most products.
In other words, personal injury attorneys involved in those lawsuits not only compensated their clients who had been seriously injured by exposure to asbestos, but they prevented countless others from suffering from those same injuries.
Provide peace of mind
Life is full of risk. Just getting in your car to go to work or visit your loved ones is inherently risky. However, because personal injury attorneys exist, these activities can be undertaken with at least some sense of security knowing that if the worst happens, there is a legal remedy.
Moreover, if the worst does happen, personal injury attorneys allow you to focus on your recovery while they undertake the monumental and stressful tasks of negotiating with insurance companies, dealing with creditors, and communicating with the wrongdoer (or the wrongdoer's attorney as the case may be).
Pro bono work
The term "pro bono" comes from the Latin pro bono public, which means "for the public good." When lawyers provide pro bono services it means they provide legal services without pay. This allows individuals who otherwise wouldn't be able to seek a legal remedy to do so.
Pro bono work is strongly encouraged by the American Bar Association, which drafted an ethical rule that has been adopted by most states. The rule states that every lawyer "has a professional responsibility to provide legal services to those unable to pay."
The message hasn't been lost on attorneys. Approximately 81% of attorneys in the United States have provided pro bono services at some point in their careers.
Moreover, at least 39 law schools require students to engage in pro bono or public service as a condition of graduation.
Finally, there are countless organizations made up of attorneys dedicated to serving their communities throughout the country. Some of the organizations exist right here in Florida:
- Florida ACLU
- Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts
- The Florida Bar
- Florida Legal Aid Societies
- Florida Justice Institute
Personal injury attorneys provide a host of other benefits to society. For example, personal injury attorneys:
- Force insurance companies to compensate the injured fairly
- Force property owners to be held accountable
- Force employers to create safe working conditions
- Force landlords to provide safe living conditions
- Force dog owners to prevent their dogs from biting humans
For all the stereotypes that plague the profession (and the handful of unscrupulous lawyers that prove those stereotypes true), most personal injury attorneys are honest and hardworking Americans that provide an important service to their communities.
It's often a thankless job, but we wouldn't have it any other way.