An accident can occur anywhere and at any time, and a person’s negligence usually is responsible for the damage. The consequences of a party’s carelessness can last a long time after the accident. The emotional effects and financial costs can impact the injured individual’s quality of life.
State laws allow victims of negligent accidents to sue for damages. You can collect compensation for your losses to help you get back onto your feet. You would begin with a claim, and an attorney can help you.
Some people are hesitant to hire a personal injury lawyer. However, a firm’s services can be valuable to any lawsuit.
What Cases Would You Need a Personal Injury Lawyer For?
Personal injury covers a wide range of accident claims. Personal injury attorneys can specialize in multiple practice areas. One common type of accident is a bicycle collision. Bicycle accidents injure around 130,000 people every year.
Most reported incidents occur on the road, and a significant portion is due to negligence. A vehicle driver could have hit the bicyclist because they had a distraction or failed to yield.
While helmets are available, bicyclists have less protection overall. The injuries they may get tend to be more severe. Your wounds could leave you with a pile of medical bills. A consultation with a personal injury lawyer is the first step to financial reimbursement.
Premises liability is when a dangerous condition on a person’s property hurts another individual. You might have slipped and fallen in a store on a wet floor. A weak railing could have caused you to fall, or some exposed chemicals led to an illness.
If an injury occurred on another party’s property, you could sue them for damages. Possible defendants include the property owner, landlord, government agency, and property manager. Your lawyer can determine if one or more entities are liable for your injuries.
Some people recover pain and suffering, past and ongoing medical expenses, and lost income. Your attorney can let you know if you can claim other damages. The amount you receive in a settlement may depend on different factors.
Dog bites occur more frequently than some people believe. About 4.5 million people suffer from bite injuries every year, and many require medical attention. An incident can occur at someone’s home or in a public area.
While most canines seem friendly, they might attack a person for one reason or another. The animal could have had a history of aggression or felt frightened. Regardless of the dog’s motive, the owner is the responsible party in most cases.
Dog bite laws place the duty of care on the dog owners. Each state might have separate rules about how a person should secure their animal. The failure to do so can lead to a personal injury lawsuit.
Reasons Why You Need a Personal Injury Lawyer
Some people choose to represent themselves during a personal injury lawsuit. Annually, roughly 2,700 plaintiffs do not have a lawyer when they file a claim. When someone decides to proceed alone, they accept the same responsibilities a lawyer would have. They would need to gather evidence, plead their case, and calculate damages by themselves.
Your case can benefit from the services of a personal injury lawyer, especially if the lawsuit is complicated. If you are still unsure, you will find several reasons why you need an attorney.
Lawyers Protect You From Insurers
One reason a personal injury lawyer is beneficial is you have someone who handles the insurance company for you. Insurers aim to devalue or deny an individual’s claim.
Some of their tactics include:
- Formal statements. The adjuster asks the claimant for their version of events to discover information to use against them. They do not need a statement to process a claim, and you do not have to give one.
- Downplay injuries. Serious injuries usually mean high settlements. Insurers may argue a claimant’s condition is not severe if the person delayed treatment.
- Delay a claim. The adjuster may want the person to give up or be willing to accept a low offer. They process the claim slowly, and you might struggle to get a hold of them on the phone.
Personal injury lawyers are familiar with the methods insurers will use. They make sure an adjuster does not try to take advantage of clients during difficult times. Your attorney can negotiate with the company for a fair settlement as well.
Attorneys Help With Unclear Liability
For a plaintiff to win a lawsuit, they have to prove the other side was responsible for the accident. Negligence might be straightforward in one case, but another situation might involve unclear liability.
During the process, you would need to collect various pieces of evidence. Police records, photos, video footage, and witness testimonies can establish negligence. What you need to get depends on the nature of your accident.
An attorney knows what you need to build a strong case. They conduct a thorough investigation to meet each element of liability. Your lawyer might discover more than one party was responsible for your injuries.
Lawyers Prevent Mistakes in a Lawsuit
A claim usually consists of a lot of paperwork. If a person does not hire a lawyer, they need to file each document correctly. Additionally, they must be aware of the approaching deadline. A mistake could set your case back, or the court might dismiss the claim.
Personal injury attorneys have experience with the necessary paperwork. They know how to prepare everything and ensure you do not miss a deadline. A lawyer can prevent other types of errors as well.
Some people accidentally make the mistake of discussing their case with others. They talk to their family, friends, or co-workers about the situation. An outside party might post sensitive details on social media. While online posts may seem harmless, they can impact your ability to collect compensation.
Other people are quick to settle after an accident as well. If they accept an offer, they cannot pursue additional damages in the future. Lawyers can help clients avoid costly errors.
An Attorney Represents You in a Trial
Most personal injury lawsuits can resolve with a settlement before anyone has to go to trial. If one does reach the courtroom, the chance of a favorable result goes down. A judge oversees everything, and the plaintiff needs substantial evidence to convince the jury.
You will want an experienced lawyer by your side if your case goes to trial. Attorneys know courtroom procedures and can match the defendant’s aggressiveness. The right firm increases the odds of success.
Ways to Find a Personal Injury Lawyer
When you look for a personal injury lawyer, you can begin with the ones who work with accident claims like yours. The attorney is more likely to know the laws regarding your situation if they specialize in the same area as your accident.
Once you know the type of lawyer you need, you have a few ways to locate one.
Common methods are:
- A lawyer’s website. Many personal injury attorneys have online pages to provide potential clients with pertinent information. They list office locations, practice areas, testimonies, and details about the team.
- Online directories. A few sites exist to give visitors legal information and a list of potential attorneys in their area. They can have detailed profiles of each lawyer and help connect you to them.
- The people you know. You might know someone who went through a similar situation and sought a lawyer. They may recommend an attorney, and you can plan a consultation with them.
- Local bar association. Most bar associations have a referral service to guide you to the right lawyer. The list includes screened attorneys to ensure people find someone who is in good standing. You can ask about the qualifications the service uses to screen candidates.
A meeting with each attorney can narrow down your list until you find the one who works best for you. A lawyer should make you feel comfortable with how they will proceed with your case.
What Can You Expect During a Consultation?
Most reputable personal injury firms offer free consultations. The process of scheduling one is simple, and you can either call the office or fill a form out online. You generally meet in person, but several firms offer virtual consultations.
Regardless of how the meeting takes place, you can expect the personal injury attorney to review the facts of the case. Therefore, the necessary information should be present at the meeting. For example, the lawyer will want to see your medical records.
If the police showed up after the accident, the attorney might desire a copy of the police report. Another necessary document is a list of any witnesses. The lawyer may want to review your insurance policy and pay stubs. You do not need every piece of information, but more records mean an accurate assessment.
If you have plenty of paperwork, the attorney may scan them to understand the strengths and weaknesses of your claim. They assess if you have a valid case, and they may determine possible strategies to address potential weaknesses.
A Time to Ask Questions
Consultations are more than a time when lawyers decide if they want to take on a person’s claim. The initial meeting is an opportunity for you to evaluate if an attorney is right for you. You would observe their willingness to take on a new client. You can learn if their personality will work well with yours.
Additionally, you can use the allotted time to ask the attorney several questions. Your claim can benefit the most from an experienced lawyer. Your questions can revolve around how long the firm has been in practice.
You may want to know if the firm has handled cases similar to yours in the past. Another starting question is if the lawyer has taken a lawsuit to trial. If the office has a large team, you can ask who specifically will oversee your claim.
Communication is necessary during any lawsuit. A person would want to be able to speak to their attorney throughout the process. If you believe a firm is not suitable for you, you can schedule a consultation with another office.
Can You Change Personal Injury Attorneys?
After you agree to hire a personal injury lawyer, you may become unhappy with them in the future. The attorney might not communicate regularly, or they take your claim in another direction. Regardless, you may question if you can switch firms in the middle of the case.
The answer is yes, and you can do so at any stage. If you have not formally filed a lawsuit, the switch is simple. However, plaintiffs must follow a process if they have filed the case in court.
The process involves the submission of substitution of counsel. The document alerts the court and other parties of the change. Additionally, local court rules could apply to your ability to switch firms.
A couple of exceptions can prevent you from firing your lawyer. In some instances, delays occur when a person tries to select a new attorney. The court might not allow you to make the change if the process would stall the lawsuit.
Another reason the court would deny your decision to hire another personal injury lawyer is a conflict of interest. An example is if the firm represents the opposing side to a certain degree. If you are unsure if a conflict of interest would happen, the attorney can let you know.
Why Do You Need to Hire a Personal Injury Lawyer Early?
A victim of an accident should reach out to a personal injury lawyer soon after receiving medical treatment. A lawsuit can take months to over a year to resolve. You would want to give the attorney plenty of time to collect the evidence and build your case.
Additionally, someone could run out of time to file a claim if they do not act quickly. Every state has a different statute of limitations for personal injury cases.
While exceptions to pause the deadline exist, most people must submit the paperwork before the statute of limitations expires. Someone most likely will lose their right to collect compensation from the liable party if the deadline passes.
Obligations in life can make you busy, so the help of a personal injury lawyer is necessary. Your attorney can take over paperwork duties and reduce your stress.