A personal injury attorney helps individuals who have sustained injuries in accidents to recover financial compensation. These funds are often needed to pay for medical treatment, make up for lost wages, pain and suffering, and provide compensation for injuries suffered.
Personal injury attorneys specialize in tort law, which covers all civil litigation for injuries or wrongdoings resulting from negligence. The main goal of personal injury lawyers who practice tort law is to make their client (the injured “plaintiff”) whole again and discourage others from committing a similar offense.
Common examples of personal injury practice areas include motor vehicle accidents, slip and fall accidents, defective products, workplace injuries and medical malpractice.
Do you need a personal injury attorney?
Many people handle simple injury claims on their own, and save on legal fees, but serious cases often benefit from a lawyers experience and expertise.
Personal injury claims cover a wide variety of situations and different types of accidents. You may have been injured in a car accident, by slipping and falling on someone’s property, or bitten by a neighbor’s dog. All these things are considered personal injury and the level of your injury can make big a difference in processing your claim.
In some situations, you may be capable of handling a claim through insurance or Small Claims Court against the other party on your own. Other times, you may want to seek the advice and assistance of a qualified legal professional. It all depends on the severity of your injuries and the legal elements of the accident.
Managing Your Own Case
Attempting to handle a claim on your own only to hire a lawyer later may complicate the claim process, so it’s important to understand what you’re capable of and what’s at stake if you mishandle your case. If you are unsure about what to do or how to handle a claim, you may consider contacting an attorney immediately after your injury for a consultation to find out if a lawyer is worth the cost.
When You Might Consider Hiring A Lawyer
The insurance company you are making the claim against will have attorneys representing and fighting for them. Lawyers are professionals who spend years and countless hours studying the particulars of the law and gathering knowledge to represent their clients to the best of their abilities. If the insurance company or the party you are taking to Small Claims Court has legal representation, it may be something for you to consider as well.
Your Injuries May Not Be As Minor As You Thought
Many people are reluctant to hire a lawyer for injuries that seem relatively minor. For example, if you get into a car accident and you bruise your arm and suffer a few scrapes, you may not feel it is worthwhile to hire a personally injury attorney. And if the other driver’s insurance company makes you an offer to pay your medical bills and give you a few hundred dollars extra on top of that, it may not be worth the hassle of finding legal representation.
But there are a few reasons why you might consider making a phone call or scheduling an initial consultation with a lawyer, even for seemingly minor injuries.
Minor Injuries May Turn into Major Ones. If your injuries turn out to be worse than you and your doctor thought, and you have already accepted a settlement offer, there will be nothing you can do about it since you must give up any and all future claims arising out of the accident when you settle. A good lawyer will advise you to wait until you know the full extent of your injuries, and would help you to determine the right time to accept an offer.
You’re Entitled to “Pain and Suffering” Damages. Pain and suffering and emotional distress damages would be considered by a jury if your case went to court, and so a settlement that doesn’t include these types of damages might not be a complete one. Your lawyer can explain all damages you may be entitled to, even for injuries that seem minor, and will advocate on your behalf to make sure you receive a satisfactory settlement.
Small Cases vs. Serious Injuries
Whenever you suffer from serious injuries, you need to get an attorney. That’s because:
- Your lawyer can help you make sure you get the full spectrum of damages you’re entitled to.
- Lawyers are experts in negotiation and can maximize your recovery.
- The insurers and defendants may take your claim more seriously once you’re represented by an attorney.
Represented Plaintiffs Tend to Receive Larger Settlements
Based on a 1999 study by the Insurance Research Council, the average person receives a settlement 3 ½ times larger with legal assistance than without it. In a personal injury settlement this can make a huge difference. The particulars of the law depending on your situation can become complicated.
- What if the person who rear-ended you doesn’t have insurance, or if their insurance refuses to pay?
- What if the dog bite you received makes you seriously ill and ends up costing you thousands?
- What if the neighbor won’t take responsibility?
In these few quick examples and questions you can see how easily it might be that a personal injury claim gets complicated. Any time you are injured and are dealing with an insurance company or another private party directly for your claim, you have the right to consult an attorney and have one represent you if you choose.