Researching personal injury lawyers may be far down your list after you’ve been in an accident — and that’s fine. You should of course focus on your health and recovery first. Whether that means undergoing surgery and months of physical therapy or starting to see a psychiatrist, you want to get yourself back to how you were before the accident as much as possible.
Recuperating after an accident isn’t just physical, mental, or emotional, though. There are other ways to recoup what you’ve lost. That’s exactly what personal injury lawyers help you with.
What personal injury lawyers do
Personal injury lawyers help people become “whole” again after they’ve been in an accident where some individual, company, or other party was negligent. When you get hurt in an auto collision, slip and fall incident, or from a defective product, a personal injury lawyer can help get you compensation for any damages you’ve suffered as a result of your accident.
Here are all the ways a personal injury attorney can help you.
Help you recover compensation after an accident
When you get hurt in an accident, your mind is most likely on your physical and mental recovery. You’re not thinking about the medical bills stacking up, or the lost benefits from all the sick days you have to take off from work. As you’re taking care of yourself medically, your personal injury attorney is looking after your legal rights and financial security.
Case investigation and discovery
One of the biggest aspects of any personal injury case is investigating the facts and performing discovery. Discovery is the process of gathering evidence from all parties and relevant witnesses. Your personal injury attorney may work with a specialized investigator who will:
- Get in contact with witnesses for interviews
- Take photos and videos from the scene or create diagrams
- Obtain police reports or employer reports
Your attorney will also send lists of questions known as “interrogatories” to the other party’s legal team, as well as request depositions so they can ask the other party questions under oath.
Discuss your case’s best options with you
Personal injury attorneys spend a great deal of time making sure you fully understand your situation. They listen to your full account of the accident and pull out facts or pieces of information that may require verification or follow-up. Their job is to cover all the details of the accident so that they—and you—have all the necessary information to make the best decision.
Negotiate a settlement on your behalf
Most personal injury cases end with a settlement, or agreement between the parties involved. With a settlement, there’s no need to go to court and the parties agree to the conditions negotiated by the legal teams. Settlements are legally binding, so if you agree to one, you must comply with it.
Trying to come up with settlement terms on your own is not a good idea if you aren’t familiar with personal injury laws in your state. Having an attorney negotiate on your behalf ensures that you get the best deal possible in your situation, and that you don’t agree to something that doesn’t benefit you.
Discuss your claim with insurance companies
As you’re convalescing after your accident, you may not have the time or the energy to deal with your insurance company. Most insurance carriers want claims to be dealt with as quickly as possible, but that’s not always in your best interest. A personal injury lawyer can request copies of your various insurance policies and review them to look for the coverage and benefits you’re entitled to.
Defend your case at trial
Although most personal injury lawsuits are settled, they can sometimes go to trial. This happens when the parties can’t come to an agreement without the help of a judge or jury. All personal injury attorneys must be ready to take their cases to trial if it comes to that, so they often start preparing for it as soon as you bring them your case. Trials can take several days.
As you can see, personal injury lawyers do a lot for their clients. No case is the same and there’s hardly ever a clear-cut solution, but a personal injury attorney’s job is to find and fight for the best resolution possible for your situation.
What kind of cases do personal injuries lawyers handle?
Personal injury lawyers can take on a wide variety of cases. Some attorneys specialize in a specific type of personal injury law as well, such as motor vehicle accidents.
Generally, however, personal injury can include the following:
- Car accidents
- Truck accidents
- Motorcycle accidents
- Premises liability (which includes slips and falls, swimming pool accidents, exposure to harmful materials or chemicals, etc.)
- Defective products
- Medical malpractice
- Workers’ compensation
- Dog attack accidents
- Wrongful death claims
- Traumatic brain injury resulting from an accident
- Catastrophic injury
The above list isn’t exhaustive but covers some of the most common areas of personal injury law. If you’ve been in some kind of accident and are wondering what your rights are, you should contact a personal injury lawyer in your area.
How personal injury cases usually work
Most personal injury cases will go through the following process:
- The plaintiff gets injured in an accident and hires an attorney to help them recover damages.
- The plaintiff’s attorney files a personal injury complaint in civil court and the defendant is notified of the complaint.
- The defendant hires an attorney. If insurance coverage is involved, the defendant’s insurance company will appoint and pay for an attorney.
- Both sides ask each other for evidence and witness information during the pre-trial and discovery phase. Occasionally both sides will have to appear in court to let the judge know how the process is going.
- The two sides agree to a settlement before the case goes to trial. This is the most common outcome.
- If there is no settlement, the trial begins and can last several days. Either a jury or single judge will determine if the defendant is at fault for the accident and, if so, how much they must pay to cover the plaintiff’s losses.
Personal injury attorneys are on your side
When you’ve suffered an accident and want to recover compensation for your losses, a personal injury lawyer is the most qualified person to help you. A good attorney will truly have your best interests in mind and work diligently to make you whole again.