Why Do I Need a Personal Injury Lawyer?
If you, or a family member, have been hurt because of someone else’s action or failure to act, you may need to take legal action to recover damages. Damages are the costs associated with being harmed, including medical bills.
Filing a complaint is just the first step of what can become a complicated process in a personal injury lawsuit. For the best outcome, rely on the advice and guidance of a lawyer who specializes in personal injury cases. There are several reasons to hire a personal injury lawyer after an accident or other event:
To Recover Damages
The main reason to file a personal injury lawsuit is to recover damages. Depending on the severity of the injury, you may have expensive medical bills, lost wages, and emotional distress. You can be compensated for these if negligence can be proven. It takes an expert lawyer to make your case and give you the best chance to recover the maximum damages owed.
For Their Expertise
Always match the lawyer to your case. An attorney in family law does not have the right expertise to prove negligence in personal injury. Proving someone else’s fault is not always straightforward. A lawyer with the right experience gives you the best chance of winning.
For Professional Investigators
Proving negligence means collecting evidence and witness statements. Personal injury law firms have access to medical experts and investigators who can help put your case together. These are resources difficult to access on your own.
To Navigate Insurance
Often in a personal injury case, the plaintiff goes up against an insurance company. Trying to fight against a large company with a legal team is challenging without a lawyer on your side. You are unlikely to win.
To Negotiate a Settlement
Even if the other side is willing to negotiate a settlement without going to court, you need a lawyer. You will get a higher amount if you have an experienced lawyer advocating for you.
How to Choose a Personal Injury Lawyer
Choosing from among the many personal injury lawyers advertising online and on TV can be a daunting task. It’s essential to choose the right person for the job, so take some time to find a law firm and attorney you think will be your best advocate. The lawyer you hire should be:
- Experienced in personal injury cases
- Ideally experienced in your type of personal injury or accident
- Experienced in both negotiating settlements and going to trial
- Willing to provide you with client referrals and evidence of past wins
- Able to provide the experts and resources to investigate your case fully
- Someone who makes you feel comfortable and confident about the outcome
There is nothing wrong with choosing a lawyer you heard about through advertising but do your homework first. Other ways to find a lawyer are through referrals from friends and family and your state’s bar association.
Red Flags to Watch for in a Personal Injury Lawyer
When hiring a personal injury attorney, look for what you want in a professional, but also watch for warning signs. These red flags should give you pause:
- A guaranteed outcome. It is not only impossible to predict the result of a lawsuit; it is unethical to do so.
- Up-front fees. The best personal injury lawyers work on a contingency basis, meaning you owe them nothing until you recover damages. If the case fails, you don’t owe anything. A lawyer who charges fees upfront probably does not have the resources to investigate and win your case.
- Someone who is hard to contact. A good lawyer should be accessible. They may have to return calls at times, but they should do so promptly. A lawyer who is hard to reach may have more cases than they can handle or isn’t taking yours seriously.
- Mysterious fees or billing. The right lawyer will be clear about costs and billing and will talk to you about it during your first consultation.
- A disorganized, chaotic office. This can signify that a law firm does not run the office well and that the lawyer will not be organized when taking on your case.
- Exaggerations. Only an unethical lawyer would ask you to exaggerate your injuries or damages. This crosses a line and could be considered fraud.
How to Work with Your Personal Injury Lawyer
Once you find the attorney you feel confident in and who will take your case, consider how to best work together. Be prepared, provide information, and be open and honest about everything.
Prepare for the Initial Consultation
First, understand what will happen at your initial client-attorney meeting. This will help you prepare so that the consultation goes smoothly and starts your case off on the right foot. Your lawyer will ask you many questions, so be prepared to be honest and open, even with difficult questions.
Your lawyer will probably also ask you to sign a representation agreement. Don’t do this until you are sure it is the lawyer or law firm you feel comfortable hiring. They will also be giving you a lot of information, so be ready to take notes or bring someone along to help you remember details.
Bring the Right Information
Your lawyer will need to get as much information about your case as possible, and you can provide most of it. Bring all the necessary documents, so you don’t get stalled:
- Any notes you took on the incident
- Notes or interviews from witnesses
- Any evidence, like photos from an accident
- Contact information for everyone involved in the incident and for witnesses
- All medical information, including reports from doctors and related bills
- Dates of missed work and documentation of your salary, such as a W2
- Insurance information, including any contact or communication you have had with insurance adjusters or representatives
- Police reports from the incident
While your lawyer will do a lot of questioning, you too should be able to ask any questions you have. Come prepared with a list of what you need to know, so you don’t forget anything. Here are some of the critical questions to ask a lawyer you are considering hiring:
- Who will be handling my case?
- How much time can you devote to it?
- How many cases like mine have you won?
- Do you see any problems with my case?
- Do you have experts and investigators for my case, and what will they be doing to prove negligence?
- How long do you expect the case to take?
- Will you try to negotiate a settlement?
- Are you willing to go to trial if necessary?
- What is your trial experience?
- What do you think my case is worth?
Talk About Fees
Finally, make sure you discuss fees and that you are comfortable with the costs. You should understand the fee structure, what you may owe if you win your case—and what, if anything, you will owe if you lose—and how the law firm handles billing and payments.
Working with a personal injury lawyer is the best way to ensure you get the best outcome after an accident or injury. It has to be the right lawyer, though. Learn about the law, how to find a good lawyer, and see a few before you make a decision.
For state-specific information, visit the following pages:
- Alabama Personal Injury Lawyers
- California Personal Injury Lawyers
- Florida Personal Injury Lawyers
- New York Personal Injury Lawyers
- Texas Personal Injury Lawyers
- Pennsylvania Personal Injury Lawyers
- Illinois Personal Injury Lawyers
- Ohio Personal Injury Lawyers
- Georgia Personal Injury Lawyers
- North Carolina Personal Injury Lawyers
- Michigan Personal Injury Lawyers
- New Jersey Personal Injury Lawyers
- Virginia Personal Injury Lawyers
- Washington Personal Injury Lawyers
- Arizona Personal Injury Lawyers
- Massachusetts Personal Injury Lawyers
- Tennessee Personal Injury Lawyers
- Indiana Personal Injury Lawyers
- Missouri Personal Injury Lawyers
- Maryland Personal Injury Lawyers
- Wisconsin Personal Injury Lawyers