When an individual has obtained a personal injury due to the negligence of another individual, they may acquire the services of a personal injury attorney. Those attorneys work on cases in which the actions or inaction of another individual or entity resulted in a personal injury to their client.
A personal injury attorney will help to collect evidence to prove that the accused individual is at fault for the injury. First, the personal injury attorney will establish who should have been responsible for preventing the situation which resulted in a personal injury. For example, landlords that is responsible for removing snow from their property or drivers that are responsible for driving their vehicles in a safe manner.
Once the personal injury attorney has determined who is at fault, they will present evidence to show how the injury could have been prevented. Finally, the attorney will seek compensation for the client for the injury, medical bills, pain and suffering and lost wages.
How Do I Find a Personal Injury Attorney?
A personal injury attorney is an attorney who provides services for legal representation to individuals who have claimed to have been physically and/or psychologically injured as the result of a wrongdoing or negligence on behalf of another individual, government agency, company, or another party. Because of this, personal injury lawyers are often knowledgeable with the related laws and also have more experience in tort law, which encompasses civil wrongs as well as economic or non-economic damages to an individual’s rights, property, or reputation.
A personal injury attorney has many different responsibilities. These include both ethical and professional rules and codes of conduct created by the state bar associations where the specific personal injury attorney is licensed to. Once the personal injury attorney is licensed to practice law, they are legally allowed to file complaints, argue cases in the state court, draft documents, and provide legal advice to any victims of personal injury.
Personal injury attorneys also have the responsibility for interviewing any prospective clients and looking at their cases to see just what the legal matter is, recognize the distinctive issues involved in the problem, and then comprehensively research all the issue to build a firm case. The personal injury attorney’s ultimate professional responsibility is to help the plaintiff receive the compensation and justice he deserves for any suffering and by using advocacy, client counseling, legal advice, and oral arguments.
Personal injury attorneys must also follow strict standards of legal ethics in all cases. While the specific guidelines will vary by state, the basic codes of conduct say that a personal injury attorney must knowledgeably look at legal matters and exercise competence properly in all legal matter they are involved in. Furthermore, personal injury attorneys owe all of their clients’ confidentiality and loyalty and must work in order to protect the best interests of their clients.
What Happens During a Personal Injury Case?
Although personal injury attorneys are licensed and trained to practice in almost any field of law, personal injury attorneys typically only handle legal cases that are under tort law. Some claims and injuries that apply to tort law and personal injury include:
• Wrongful Death
• Loss of Income
• Paralysis or Stroke
• Medical Expenses
• Loss of Limb or Senses
• Permanent Disability
• Head or Brain Injury
• Burns and Scarring
• Bone or Joint Injury
• Neck or Back Injury
• Automobile Accidents
• Explosions, Electrocution
• Dangerous Products
• Recreational Accidents
• Medical Malpractice
• Construction Accidents
• Employment Matters
• Industrial Accidents
• Nursing Home Negligence
Finding the Right Personal Injury Attorney
There are many ways to find the right personal injury attorney. The best way to do this is by obtaining referrals to personal injury attorneys. Referrals can be obtained from friends, family, acquaintances, lawyer directories, other lawyers, or other referral services. After getting the referrals, it is important to comparison shop by meeting many of the lawyers and discussing the claim at hand before choosing an attorney. It is important to remember that rejection is possible. Often, a personal injury attorney will not take a case if it falls under a set potential recovery amount, or if the attorney feels that the claim is not clear enough to pursue.
What to Prepare When Meeting a Personal Injury Attorney
To decide on who is the best personal injury attorney is the right one during the consultations, it is a good idea to bring copies of all relevant documents, such as the police report, income loss information, medical bills and records, and any correspondence between you and the insurance company. Many personal injury attorneys do not charge for the initial consultation, but this should be verified on an individual basis. If the attorney wants to charge you for a consultation, a different attorney is a good decision.
After discussing the case details with the personal injury attorney, you should ask the attorney some questions regarding his or her legal career. Some appropriate questions include:
• How long has the personal injury attorney been in practice?
• Does the personal injury attorney have experience in similar cases?
• About what percentage of the attorney’s practice are involving personal injury cases?
• Does the attorney typically represent plaintiffs or defendants?
• What is the personal injury attorney's record in recovering damages for clients?
• Who would be personally handling the case? Would a less experienced lawyer take on the case?
• Does the personal injury attorney take cases on a contingency basis, and does the attorney have the necessary financial resources to do so?
Evaluating Experience & Education
In order to practice law, personal injury attorneys have to pass a written bar examination and sometimes an ethics examination as well. While bar examinations vary based on the state, most require applicants to have a four-year college degree as well as an accredited law school law degree.
In many states, a personal injury attorney must take the Multistate Bar Examination, Multistate Essay Examination, and the Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination along with the state bar exam. After being admitted to the state bar, a personal injury attorney must constantly be up to date on any developments in their specific field by completing a required amount of CLE, or continuing legal education courses, which are designed to help personal injury attorneys stay on top of any developments in their field.
Personal injury attorneys can also concentrate their practices in specific areas of personal injury law. By limiting the scope and range of the cases they usually handle, personal injury attorneys can acquire more specialized experience and knowledge. However, for a personal injury attorney to be certified as a personal injury specialist, a specialty certification program that is accredited by the American Bar Association must be completed.
After discussing the case facts and the negotiation history with the insurance company, a personal injury attorney may able to discuss the value of the case and the difficulty involved in receiving the payment. This is the time where you should discuss with the attorney the likelihood of receiving a settlement and what effort you are willing to put in and how much you are hoping to receive. If you have confidence in the attorney’s experience, and are also comfortable with how he or she thinks the case should proceed, you have most likely found a good personal injury attorney to work with.
Personal Injury Attorney Fees
Personal injury attorneys almost always will accept your case on a contingency basis, meaning that the attorney only receives a percentage of the award if he or she wins the case. However, even if you do not win an award, you may still be responsible for different costs associated with the case, like the court filing fees.
The contingency fee will vary between states. In most states, the fee will be between 33% and 40% of the award. If your case is possibly worth a lot of money, it may be possible to negotiate a lower contingent fee, but the better personal injury attorneys are usually unwilling to do this.