We live in a country that values making things right when someone is done wrong. For that reason, personal injury attorneys are tremendously popular. They’re a sympathetic ear when you’re going through hard times and a powerful advocate for your right to compensation for your injuries.
If you’re like most people, though, you might not have a deep understanding of what a personal injury attorney does. We have the answers to your most dire of questions. Read on to learn all about how personal injury attorneys get the job done.
The Overall Job Description
It’s no secret that legal issues are complex. Lawyers spend at least seven years in college and law school to qualify to sit for the bar. A personal injury attorney’s job is to take their education and experience and help their clients seek compensation for their injuries. They’ll present your options to you and give you enough information so you can make an informed decision about your case.
What Types of Cases Do They Take?
Personal injury law is an area of civil law that covers negligent acts that cause injuries to others. The most common examples of personal injury law include car accidents, premises liability, dog bites, and wrongful death.
It’s important to note that personal injury cases are a separate process from criminal cases. Let’s say someone has too much to drink before they get in the car and causes an accident. They’ll face criminal liability under the criminal process, but the only way for you to receive any kind of financial compensation is to file a lawsuit against them in civil court.
In most instances, you’ll pursue compensation from the negligent party’s insurance company, unless they do not have insurance.
The Consultation Process
Before you officially form an attorney-client relationship, your potential attorney will schedule a consultation to go over the details of your case. During that appointment, you’ll want to bring as much information about the case as possible. This helps your attorney get a more detailed picture of your case.
Your attorney will go over whether they think you have a case, and, if so, what the fee setup looks like. If you both want to work together, then your new attorney begins work on your case.
How Do Personal Injury Cases Work?
Before you sign on the dotted line to have an attorney represent you, it’s important to have a thorough understanding of how the legal process works. Every lawyer works a little differently, but, in general, they all follow similar processes.
The first thing a personal injury attorney does is conduct a thorough investigation into your case. You’ll want to give your attorney all the information about your case that you have, even if you think it might have a negative impact.
Ask for copies of any relevant medical records and provide the names of any witnesses. If you have pictures of the scene of the incident or of your injuries, those are helpful as well. Your attorney will help you determine everything that you need to submit for the beginning stages of your case.
Putting the Opposing Party on Notice
While your attorney investigates your case, they’ll also put the opposing party on notice. In most cases, this is the negligent party and the insurance company that covers the negligent party. The insurance company may ask for additional information from your lawyer in order to properly evaluate your claim.
Putting the parties on notice serves an important function. It lets them know that they need to preserve any and all evidence related to your case. Your lawyer will likely ask for copies of any evidence they have through the discovery process if your case goes to trial.
One of the biggest tasks a personal injury attorney has is to determine how much to ask for in damages. In personal injury law, there are a couple of different kinds of compensatory damages, economic and non-economic.
Economic damages are any financial losses that you’ve suffered as a result of your accident. For example, if you missed work or had to pay out of pocket for medical expenses, then those are economic damages.
Non-economic damages are a form of compensation for any injuries that you’ve suffered that don’t have a dollar amount attached to them. This is where you hear the term pain and suffering come into play. It also covers things like the exacerbation of previous issues and even the loss of your sex life.
You might be surprised to learn that 97 percent of civil cases never make it to trial. The most common way these types of cases resolve is through settlement.
Typically, your attorney uses the information you gave them to craft a settlement demand letter. That letter gets sent to the insurance company in an attempt to resolve the case without having to wait for a trial date. The demand letter is a jumping-off point for negotiations, and many cases settle after one or more rounds of mediation.
Going to Trial
Just because most cases settle doesn’t mean that some cases don’t end up at trial. If the negligent party’s insurance company is particularly stubborn, or if you want to hold out for a jury trial, then your attorney makes sure you get your day in court.
Going to trial takes longer than settling, especially in California courts. When the trial date comes, though, your lawyer assists in selecting a jury, and they’ll present your case to them. The jury then determines whether they find in your favor and the amount of damages they’ll award you.
Are You in Need of a Personal Injury Attorney?
Hiring a personal injury attorney is a great way to ensure that you get a fair shake when it comes to getting compensation for your injuries. Whether you’ve been in a car accident, gotten bit by someone’s dog, or slipped and fell on someone’s property, you won’t regret hiring an attorney.
Have you been the victim of someone else’s negligence? Let the team at Sweet Lawyers help you claim the compensation you deserve. Contact us today for a free consultation!