When someone behaves negligently or recklessly, such as in a motor vehicle collision, the accident victim can suffer debilitating injuries that may impact them for the rest of their life. Accident victims can also suffer slip and fall injuries in local grocery stores, restaurants, and bars, or they might suffer injuries while riding in bike lanes.
No matter the circumstances, an accident victim’s injuries can cause them pain, suffering, and inconvenience-not to mention dealing with the high medical bills that pile up over time. Many accident victims want to know about their legal rights to possible compensation for their losses.
If you have suffered injuries in an accident that resulted from someone else’s negligence, you might be eligible to file a personal injury claim that seeks monetary compensation and damages. This sounds good, but many people do not know how to begin the process. The best thing you can do is hire a personal injury attorney to handle your claim.
The right injury lawyer can meet with you to determine if you’re eligible to file a personal injury insurance claim or lawsuit. If you are, they should assist you with every step of the process and do everything possible to obtain the compensation you deserve to recover financially and become whole again.
But how do you choose the right personal injury lawyer for your case?
Recommendations and Online Searches
Do you know someone who suffered injuries and was happy with their claim results? Find out who their attorney was. However, you want to avoid focusing on attorneys who do not regularly handle injury claims.
For example, if your friend recently got divorced, they might recommend their divorce lawyer. If that lawyer mainly handles family law cases, they are likely not right for you. That divorce lawyer might have a referral network, though, so it might be worth a quick call to the firm.
The most common way that people find personal injury lawyers is online. A search for a “personal injury lawyer near me” will return millions of results. How do you sift through them?
Browse some of the websites from your Google search and read about each law firm’s experience, resources, and case results. You can look for reviews on other sites, such as Avvo or Lawyers.com. There is a lot of telling information online that can give you a good idea of how a firm approaches cases and helps clients.
Your Free Consultation
One of the best ways to get a feel for an injury lawyer is during a free consultation. This meeting happens at no cost to you and with no obligation to hire the attorney.
During this meeting, you can:
- Ask the injury lawyer all of your questions, including about their experience with cases like yours
- Find out if the attorney believes you have a valid claim
- Learn how personal injury lawyers charge for their services
The free consultation will often signal whether this is the right lawyer for you and your case. If so, you can move forward-likely right away-with a representation agreement, and the attorney can begin protecting your rights as an injury victim.
Common Reasons to Need a Personal Injury Lawyer
A personal injury claim or lawsuit can arise from many different accidents.
Those accidents include:
- Car and truck collisions
- Pedestrian accidents
- Bicycle crashes
- Motorcycle accidents
- Slip and falls at restaurants, gyms, stores, and bars
- Premises accidents (including those that occur due to negligent security on the premises)
- Boating accidents
- Accidents that result from defective products
- Medical negligence by a healthcare provider
These incidents can result in severe injuries that require costly medical care. Such injuries keep victims out of work and might result in permanent disabilities. Liable parties should be responsible for covering these losses, and liability in these injury cases hinges on the legal concept of negligence.
A party is negligent when they act unreasonably under the circumstances. This typically means that the at-fault party did something that a reasonable person would not have done under the same circumstances-or they failed to do something that a reasonable person would have done under the same circumstances.
A skilled legal professional can help you determine if you have a personal injury case and identify liable parties.
Such parties may include:
- Other drivers
- Employers of negligent parties
- Property owners
- Other companies
- Medical professionals
Make sure the lawyer you choose has the experience and resources to go up against the liable parties in your case. If a lawyer only handles straightforward car accident claims, they might not have the resources to take on a large pharmaceutical company in a dangerous drug claim. The type of case you have matters when choosing an attorney.
Common Injuries Involved in Personal Injury Claims
Every injury victim has a unique experience, including the type of injury. Someone might suffer whiplash in a rear-end collision, and another person might fall from a balcony and suffer spinal cord damage and permanent paralysis. Both people deserve to recover for their losses if someone else caused their injuries.
Common injuries involved in personal injury claims include:
- Soft tissue injuries
- Traumatic brain injury (TBI)
- Spinal injuries
- Neck and back injuries
- Internal injuries
- Burn injuries
- Electrical injuries
These injuries require immediate medical attention, and victims should follow the guidance of medical professionals. This might include emergency room treatment, hospitalization, surgeries, rehabilitative therapy, and more.
Then, they should consult with an injury lawyer who handles cases involving their type of injury. If you have a catastrophic injury, you want a lawyer who regularly represents clients with catastrophic injuries. The damages can be much higher and more difficult to prove for more severe injuries, and you need legal representation from someone with the proper experience.
Proving a Personal Injury Case
Victims of motor vehicle collisions, premises accidents, and other occurrences that result from negligence have the legal burden of proof. Specifically, to recover monetary compensation and damages, the accident victim must prove that the at-fault person or entity owed them a duty of care-and that they violated this duty. In addition, they must show that they suffered an injury in the accident and that the accident was the cause of their injuries.
When an accident victim can demonstrate, through their testimony and sometimes expert testimony, that each of these elements is more likely than not, they are eligible to recover various damages in their case. In terms of experts, an accident victim’s lawyer might need to present the testimony of an accident reconstruction who can piece together exactly how the accident occurred. This is especially true if the insurance company is trying to dispute fault for the incident.
Moreover, the accident victim’s lawyer might need to present the testimony of a medical expert. Based on a reasonable degree of medical certainty, a medical expert can state that an accident victim’s injuries directly resulted from the accident, not preexisting or degenerative conditions.
Once your lawyer proves the liability and causation of your injuries, they can then prove the damages you deserve.
Potential damages in a personal injury case include compensation for:
- Medical expenses
- Lost earnings
- Out-of-pocket costs
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of the use of a body party
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Mental distress
- Loss of spousal companionship and family support
Your lawyer will know how to provide evidence to support all the damages you claim. The insurance company will try to minimize your compensation, so you want an injury attorney who will fight for total financial recovery in every case.
Handling the Personal Injury Process
Filing a personal injury claim can be a complicated process, and you should not try to handle it alone. While you focus on your injuries, your personal injury lawyer can help to streamline the process for you and take the necessary legal actions. Even still, you want to remain an active participant in your case when possible to maximize your potential economic recovery.
Having a knowledgeable lawyer throughout a personal injury claim is extremely important. The insurance company is never advocating for you in any way, shape, or form. The insurance company’s primary concern is its interests and profits, so it will do everything possible to limit your monetary recovery. After all, the less money the insurance company has to pay out in your case, the more money it will distribute to shareholders.
A personal injury lawyer, however, advocates for you and only you. They stand up to insurance companies and prove that you deserve compensation due to the policyholder’s liability. They will fight and negotiate for the compensation you need to cover your losses, and the right lawyer will not back down to low settlement offers. Unrepresented claimants often accept far less than you deserve, so you want the right lawyer handling your claim from the start.
The claims-filing process begins when your lawyer submits a settlement demand letter and a demand package to the insurance company. The demand package includes copies of your medical treatment records, medical bills, lost earning statements, impact statements, and photographs of your injuries and any property damage that you incurred in the incident.
The insurance company will then review all of these documents and decide whether to accept liability or fault for the accident. If the adjuster accepts fault, they may negotiate with your lawyer to try and reach a favorable settlement of the case. These negotiations can take many weeks or even months, depending upon how much the insurance company is willing to increase its offer.
After negotiations are complete, the accident victim may accept the highest settlement offer available. If the insurance company has not offered sufficient monetary compensation to the accident victim, the accident victim’s lawyer can file a lawsuit, and the parties will litigate the case.
Once a personal injury attorney files a lawsuit in court, the parties can continue negotiating the claim to see if they can reach a favorable resolution. If the case does not settle, the parties can take the case to a jury trial and allow a jury to determine the outcome of all disputed legal issues, including damages.
Deadlines to File a Personal Injury Lawsuit
Accident victims filing a personal injury claim need to act quickly. Every state has a statute of limitations for injury lawsuits, and you do not want to miss this deadline. States like California have relatively short statutes of limitations, as you only have two years to file a lawsuit. Once two years pass from the date of your injuries, you generally lose the right to seek compensation in court.
Even though injury cases often begin with insurance claims-not lawsuits-the statute of limitations still matters. If insurance negotiations are unsuccessful, your lawyer will need to file a lawsuit within the statute of limitations. Always give your lawyer plenty of time to handle everything before a lawsuit becomes a possibility.
- Investigating your accident and gathering evidence
- Filing an insurance claim
- Negotiating an insurance settlement
- Recognizing when the insurer will not offer a fair settlement
Never wait to get started on your personal injury case by hiring an attorney. As soon as you receive your initial medical care, seek legal help as soon as possible. The good news is that your lawyer will take the stress off your shoulders by handling the legal side while you focus on your medical recovery.
Choose the Right Personal Injury Lawyer Today
After an accident, seek legal help when you can. Reaching out to attorneys can be intimidating, but it shouldn’t be. Personal injury lawyers work to help people facing unexpected hardships through no fault of their own, and these law firms are ready to help.
Set up your free consultation with a personal injury attorney near you. You will not regret taking action to find the right legal help to protect your rights following an injury.