You probably have a bunch of questions about personal injury attorneys: Who are they, what do they do, and how do you find a good one?
A personal injury attorney gives legal representation to plaintiffs who say they were injured due to the negligent acts of another person or entity.
Personal injury attorneys specialize in ‘tort law.' The goal of tort law is to make the injured person ‘whole' again and to dissuade others from committing similar offenses. Personal injury attorneys help their clients to obtain compensation for their losses. Some of the losses they can help you recover include:
Medical expenses present and future: Any personal injury case usually includes costs of medical care after the accident, including reimbursement for treatment received and the cost of future care.
Loss of ability to earn a living: You may be entitled to be paid for the impact of the accident on your wages. This includes wages that were lost after the accident and what you would have made in the future if the accident did not occur.
Punitive damages: Can be awarded in some personal injury cases where the negligent party's conduct was particularly reckless. Punitive damages can be capped at certain amounts in many states.
Property loss: If any of your possessions were damaged, such as your car, you will be reimbursed for repairs or replacement of the asset.
Pain and suffering: You may be able to be compensated for pain and discomfort during and after the accident.
Emotional distress: This type of damages is usually for more serious accidents; it is intended to compensate you for the psychological pain of your injuries.
Loss of companionship (consortium): This refers to the loss of your ability to have a sexual or close relationship with your spouse or partner.
A personal injury attorney helps you to obtain financial justice using the civil court system in your state.
When you agree to be represented by a personal injury attorney, he or she will help you to calculate some or all of the above damages for your case.
Auto accidents come in all shapes and sizes. Whether the accident involves a car, truck, motorcycle, pedestrian or bicyclist, you'll likely require the knowledge of a car accident attorney to establish fault in the event that legal action is taken by or against you.
Defective products (product liability) attorneys
All manufactured products must pass safety standards by government agencies, which is why we expect the goods we buy to be safe for us and our kids. However, sometimes defective products and contaminated food slip through the cracks, causing serious injury to consumers. A defective products attorney can help you determine if personal injury from such defects entitles your family to compensation.
Slip and fall (premises liability) attorneys
Proving fault in slip and fall lawsuits is often just as difficult auto accidents, if not more so. In order to show that a property owner is liable for your injuries, the law states you must prove they were aware of the hazard (or should have been aware of the hazard) but failed to take appropriate action and that the hazard directly led to your injury.
Finding a slip and fall attorney who can help establish premises liability is an important first step in resolving these types of cases.
Wrongful death attorneys
The worst injury of all is that which results in a loss of life. Whether a wrongful death occurs from a violent crime or negligence, it is imperative that the surviving husband, wife, siblings, children or relatives appoint a skilled wrongful death attorney who understands all the complexities of filing a wrongful death lawsuit in their state and who provide the best chance at receiving financial compensation for this tragic loss.
Each of these cases present different complexities. You should seek out an experienced personal injury lawyer with years of experience in your type of accident and injury.
While personal injury law firms may be a dime a dozen, it takes a truly skilled legal team to navigate the rough waters of state-specific laws, lengthy courtroom trials and settlements. An experienced injury lawyer may even be able to help your resolve your legal issues without going to court.
What your personal injury attorney can do for you
If you think you have been hurt in accident caused by someone else, you will need to prove fault to obtain compensation for your injuries. It usually is a wise idea to hire an experienced personal injury attorney to establish that the other party was negligent in the accident. A personal injury attorney has the training and the experience with the complicated field of personal injury law to increase the chances that the other party will be found at fault.
Whether someone is liable for your injuries will hinge upon whether there was a ‘duty of care' to protect against injuries for a person who was not expected to be there when the accident took place.
Your attorney will try to establish that the other person had a duty of care in the case of your accident, and he or she did not take ‘reasonable care' to avoid injury to you.
Deciding to settle or go to trial
One of the most important things that a good personal injury lawyer will do for you is to determine if you are better off settling or going to court. The vast majority of personal injury lawsuits are settled out of court. There are many reasons for this:
Trials are costly. While the plaintiff will probably be paying his attorney on a contingency basis (paying her 33-40% of damages awarded at the end of the case), a defendant often is paying an hourly rate for his attorney. There often is strong financial motivation for the defendant to settle.
Damages at trial are unpredictable. A jury might offer you much more money in a trial, but how do you know? Your attorney will have an idea based upon past experience what the jury could do, but there is no way to be certain.
Trials take time. Many plaintiffs have serious injuries and are unable to work. Many of them desperately need money now. Going to trial can take months or years. Your attorney will try to negotiate a fair settlement for you so that you can get money quickly. She will help you to decide, however, if it is better to go to trial. It depends upon the case.
Trials are public record. Some plaintiffs or defendants may have a high motivation to settle to keep the matter out of the public eye.
The keys to a strict liability case
Regardless of how the accident happened, your attorney will strive to obtain fair and just compensation for your injuries. She will do so be applying one or several simple legal principles:
That the other person was careless and that lack of care led to your injuries, and you are entitled to injury damages.
If the negligent party caused the accident while working, the employer also is liable.
If the accident occurred on a dangerous property or due to a defective product, the owner of the property or the manufacturer of the product is liable.
Your attorney does not need to prove anything. She only needs to make a reasonable argument that the other party was at fault and liable for your injuries.
By applying these legal principles, your attorney can help you to negotiate a fair settlement for your accident case. Or, she will help you to prepare a strong legal case to take to trial so that you have the highest possible chance of prevailing before a jury.