Suffering from a personal injury can be a difficult experience. It can take away your ability to earn a living and prevent you from completing even simple, everyday tasks. These injuries, although unintentional, occur due to other people’s misconduct or negligence. According to the CDC, over 20 million Americans seek emergency treatment for such injuries. To receive damages, most victims consult a personal injury lawyer.
Before you can file a claim, here’s what you should know about what a personal injury lawyer does, the different kinds of claims, and the types of compensation.
Who Is a Personal Injury Lawyer?
A personal injury lawyer is a legal professional who represents victims of an accident. Usually, their clients have suffered from unintentional injury or damage due to someone else’s negligence. Personal injury attorneys operate in tort law, which covers the subject of intentional and negligent acts. One of their main responsibilities is to pursue compensation for accident victims. Click here to know more.
What Does a Personal Injury Lawyer Do?
Some of the common duties of a personal injury lawyer include the following:
1. Explaining Your Rights
An experienced personal injury attorney will explain how your injury affects your rights. This is important because each state has different laws regarding comparative negligence, which determines if a person can sue in the event that they’re partially at fault for the accident. States have different statutes of limitations as well, which affects how much time you have to file a lawsuit.
2. Investigates Your Claim
Most personal injury attorneys charge a contingency fee, so you only pay attorney’s fees upon securing a settlement. Consequently, they do their due diligence by screening clients and looking at the pros and cons of each case. Investigating your claim gives you an opportunity to know if you have a high chance of being awarded damages.
3. Gathers Evidence
As the victim, your injury is the biggest piece of evidence for a claim. However, in front of a jury or judge, your lawyer will need to present a detailed argument. Therefore, they may gather evidence to support the claim. This can include procuring an incident report from the police or other law enforcement officials.
If your lawyer confirms that there was someone at the scene of the incident when it occurred, they may track down the witnesses and get statements. Similarly, they may get a photographer to take images of the incident report. If needed, they can also obtain evidence like camera footage or proof of property damage.
4. Negotiates With Insurance Companies
The average person may not have much experience in negotiating during everyday activities. In contrast, a personal injury lawyer has extensive experience in negotiating with insurance providers. They’ll go over your policy’s details and determine the maximum amount of compensation you’re owed based on the circumstances.
Your personal injury lawyer will also communicate with the insurance company on your behalf while preventing you from doing anything that could affect your claim.
5. Representing You At a Trial
Usually, personal injury cases don’t go to trial because most of them are settled before the victim even files a lawsuit. On the other hand, if the insurance company denies your claim, you may have to proceed with the trial. In that case, your personal injury lawyer will represent you in court.
After all, litigation is a complex subject and requires one to follow various procedures and rules. Therefore, it’s best for you to leave it to a professional.
When You Require a Personal Injury Lawyer
Not all cases require you to hire a personal injury lawyer. When the case is simple enough with no serious injury, it’s easy to come to a resolution. However, some cases can end up becoming more complex due to reasons like your insurance not being in effect at the time of the incident. Or the injury may not turn out chronic until months later.
Some of the main reasons people hire a personal injury include:
- The insurance company denies your claim because they don’t want to take responsibility.
- The accident involves multiple parties, which complicates matters regarding liability. This usually occurs in situations involving employees, subcontractors and contractors.
- You’re offered a settlement by the other client’s insurance. Consulting a personal injury lawyer will help you determine if the offer is fair.
Common Types of Personal Injury Claims
Some of the most common kinds of personal injury claims include the following:
- Medical malpractice, such as misdiagnosis, surgical error, and improper prescription.
- Motor vehicle accidents, such as auto, motorcycle, trucking, pedestrian, and rideshare accidents.
- Workplace accidents
- A wrongful death claim is filed when the victim dies from the injury.
- Animal attacks
- Slip and fall accidents
Of course, this is just the tip of the iceberg. It’s impossible to count the total number of possible claims. Other lesser-known claims include burn injuries, aviation accidents, and boating accidents.
Types of Personal Injury Damages
As the victim, you can recover compensation if the defendant breached their duty of care towards you. There are three main types of damages: compensatory, which includes general and special damages, and punitive damages.
1. Special Damages (Economic)
These compensatory damages serve to cover the specific costs that a victim incurs due to their personal injury. Some examples of special damages include:
- Medical costs that cover surgical procedures and treatments
- Future healthcare expenses
- Lost earnings (for both the past and future)
2. General Damages (Non-economic)
Non-economic damages are subjective, so they’re less easy to calculate. Some examples include:
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
- Lack of enjoyment
3. Punitive Damages
This class of damages serves as a punishment in cases where a defendant’s behavior caused harm to the victim. Let’s say there’s a company that knew about the risks of taking a certain medication but didn’t disclose them. In this case, the judge may award punitive damages as a way to discourage others from repeating the offense.
If you or a loved one has experienced an injury due to another person’s negligence or behavior, you have the right to seek damages. While you can file a claim on your own, it’s best to consult a personal injury lawyer. Because tort law is so complex, a skilled attorney can represent you in court and fulfill other duties to help you get the necessary compensation.