Personal injury lawyers represent people who have suffered physical injury and often emotional or mental injuries as well. Personal injury lawyers investigate and research their clients’ cases to help them obtain an award of monetary damages to compensate them for the losses connected with their injuries. Those losses would usually be the cost of medical care and lost wages or salary from an inability to work.
Most people think of an injury as caused by the negligence of another, and negligence is the basis for many lawsuits handled by personal injury lawyers. But there are intentional wrongs also, “intentional torts” in legal terminology. These are such wrongs as civil assault, battery, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. If a person has been a victim of an intentional tort, they, too, need to consult a personal injury lawyer.
If a person’s life is permanently affected in some way by their injuries because they cannot work or do the same work they did before, this would be compensated as well.
Personal injury lawyers may also seek compensation for property damage, e.g., the cost of repairing a motor vehicle involved in a car accident. Personal injury lawyers perform other tasks, such as appearing in court and representing clients during negotiations.
Personal injury lawyers are usually paid on a “contingency fee” basis. This means they are not paid until they recover damages for their client. Then the lawyer takes a percentage of the award. In some cases, this would mean that the client does not have to pay any out-of-pocket costs to hire their lawyer. Any expenses the lawyer has to pay to prosecute the case would also be reimbursed from the award of damages.
In some cases, a personal injury lawyer might ask the client to provide them with some amount of money at the beginning of the case to pay for the costs of conducting the investigative phase of a claim. Some lawyers do this; others do not.
The fact that a lawyer might ask a client to pay some money upfront to fund the case does not mean that a person should not select the lawyer to represent them. If a person has the funds and feels confident in the lawyer, they can safely hire them.
One thing to remember is that a person should select a lawyer with whom they feel comfortable and in whom they have confidence. This may mean a person must talk to more than one lawyer before deciding who to hire. A person should not feel that they have to hire the first lawyer they consult. They can give themselves a choice.
What Are Some Ways to Find a Personal Injury Lawyer?
One of the issues that arises when a person decides they need to consult a personal injury lawyer is what kind of specialized experience the person needs. Personal injury lawyers tend to specialize. For example, many specialize in handling medical malpractice cases, i.e., cases in which a healthcare professional has provided substandard care. These lawyers may have medical backgrounds and legal training, so they are specially qualified to deal with medical malpractice cases.
Other lawyers may specialize in auto accidents. Another specialty is employment-related issues, such as wrongful termination, while others may specialize in strict product liability lawsuits involving defective products. A person needs to know which kind of specialization they need and how to identify personal injury lawyers with that specialized experience.
The most common ways to find a personal injury lawyer are as follows:
- Word of Mouth: A person can always ask family members, friends, and acquaintances if they know of any good personal injury lawyers. This can sometimes lead a person to reliable legal services. However, the average person may not always have a personal connection to a personal injury lawyer;
- Phone Book and Online Searches: Nowadays, almost all lawyers have an online presence. However, these can provide several names and the associated contact information but little information regarding an attorney’s background and ratings. Also, the information available online may not reveal a lawyer’s specialization;
- Bar Association Lawyer Referral Services: Many states and counties have bar associations that provide lawyer referral services. A person can contact the lawyer referral service and ask for a referral to an attorney who can help them. The attorney may offer an initial meeting for a small fee. This gives a person the opportunity to determine if the attorney has the expertise needed to handle their claim;
- Matching Services: These can often provide a more direct path to the right lawyer, especially one who has the specialized training and experience that a person needs for their particular case. LegalMatch.com is the nation’s largest attorney-client matching service. It can make referrals in all 50 states.
Older methods, such as word of mouth, can be slow and unreliable. So they are being replaced by newer online methods such as attorney-client matching sites. These provide a more reliable path to the right kind of attorney.
What Should I Do to Find the Right Personal Injury Lawyer
When searching for a personal injury lawyer, it helps a person to take some time first to define what their needs are. Some tips include the following:
- Identify Nature of Claim: A person should try to pinpoint the nature of their legal issue. Most claims should fall into a clear category, such as car accidents, slip-and-fall, or medical malpractice. This helps help narrow a person’s search and makes it more likely that they can identify a lawyer who has the expertise they need;
- Identify Special Needs: A person should Identify whether they would like to work with a certain type of lawyer or have any special needs. For example, a person might want to work with a lawyer who could meet with them in the evening hours as they really cannot take time off work during the day;
- Prepare Evidence: A person should begin preparing documents and other items that might help explain their issue to their lawyer. For example, most personal injury claims involve medical treatment of a physical injury. So the person wants to keep a diary of their medical treatment. They should also begin compiling receipts, hospital bills, work stubs, and the like;
- Note Questions: A person should create a checklist of questions they might have for their attorney;
- Make Written Notes: A person should make written notes of the incident that led to their injury as soon as possible after the incident while their memory of events is fresh. A person may want to continue writing down relevant information as their situation continues to avoid missing or forgetting details.
Thus, the more a person understands their own personal injury situation and their legal needs, the better chances they have of finding a personal injury lawyer who is best suited to help them out.
Do I Need the Help of a Lawyer for My Personal Injury Issue?
A person injured by the actions of another person, whether those actions were negligent or intentional, should consult a personal injury lawyer. Most people do not know the personal injury law needed to successfully handle a case of this type. It may be best to hire a personal injury lawyer in your area.
Your lawyer will know how to investigate the facts, prepare for legal proceedings, e.g., hearings and a trial if necessary, and negotiate a successful settlement if possible. You need this expertise if you have suffered significant personal injuries or property damage.