Imagine having to fritter away your savings or suffer a loss of earnings due to personal injury caused by the negligence of another person. It can not only be painful but also frustrating. You need to be compensated for any loss of income due to the injury along with all your medical bills paid in full by the perpetrator of the act. This is where a personal injury lawyer is required. Working in tort law, which covers both intentional and negligent acts, a personal injury lawyer helps you get compensation either through the person involved, insurance companies, or the courts of law.
What Constitutes Personal Injury
Any act by another, whether willful or through negligence that causes injury to you, comes under the category of personal injury. Any automotive accident, aviation, and shipping accidents hit and run cases, construction accidents, premises liability, pet attacks, theft due to negligent security (if outsourced to another party), hospital accidents, negligence by hospital staff, and even medical malpractice – all constitute a personal injury.
Suffering due to personal injury includes medical treatment expenses, loss of income due to the injury, loss of living a normal life, emotional and mental distress, loss of or damage to personal property, and loss of companionship, amongst many others.
Should You Hire a Lawyer?
The majority of people are reluctant to part with money. Proving damages and receiving compensation can be a very tricky affair, more so in the case of injuries due to an accident. Justin Kimball from Preszler Law says that a pedestrian accident can be very complex; it is always a good idea to consult a personal injury lawyer. If matters reach the court, a lawyer will be required to guide and help you win your case.
What does a Personal Injury Lawyer do?
While specific actions of a personal injury lawyer will depend on the type of personal injury case, the process and methodology adopted by most lawyers handling personal injury cases will cover the following:
- Collecting evidence: Once a lawyer has taken your case, the first step is to collect evidence to support your claims. This involves both offsite and onsite investigation. Police reports, witness statements, photographs of the accident site and previous history of any earlier transgressions by the perpetrator of the act. Your medical report and bills and employment reports are also collected to establish the extent of damage caused by the act. The compensation you receive will depend on this extent of damage and the loss suffered by you due to the injury.
- Making the Demand: On completion of the investigation, if required, the personal injury lawyer would send a demand letter to the perpetrator’s insurance company. The letter covers the details of the accident and makes a demand for damages caused by the perpetrator of the act. The insurance company may offer a lower damage amount which may result in conducting negotiation with them.
- Negotiations with Insurance companies: Insurance companies are generally very reluctant to part with money. The fine print in an insurance policy can be a minefield for most of us. Statements made by the injured can cause harm to their claim and hence negotiating with the insurance companies for compensation is best left to the personal injury lawyer. After reviewing the details of the policy, the lawyer will be able to work out the highest compensation allowable under the specific case.
- Going to the Court: There will be cases where the demand letter and subsequent negotiations if any, fail to bring about a fair settlement. This is when the personal injury lawyer will begin preparing to take the matter to the courts. Filing a complaint against the perpetrator of the act, the lawyer sets out the merits of the case and the damage claims that are being asked for. Once the complaint is received by the perpetrator or their lawyer, they usually have to prepare their response to the claim within thirty days.
- Initiating discovery: The lawyer of the injured party may initiate discovery processes which could include interrogation of the perpetrator to gather specific information. The discovery process may also include deposing witnesses and experts.
- At the trial: If there is no satisfactory solution offered by the perpetrator or their lawyers to the complaint filed, the case may go for trial in the court. Familiar with the proceedings and systems of the courts, the personal injury lawyer would provide representation for the injured party and fight the case on their behalf.
Fees of a Personal Injury Lawyer
In most cases, a personal injury lawyer will charge a fee on a contingency basis. This effectively means that they charge a percentage of the damages awarded/received as attorney fees. A large number of cases are also financed by the lawyer and thus they take great care to evaluate the case before taking it up. Normally, if it seems that the case is not strong enough, a personal injury lawyer may refuse to take it on.