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What is a personal injury lawyer?

Have questions about what a personal injury lawyer is, or what they do? We answer all your questions about personal injury lawyers in this article.

evident Editorial Team
November 28, 2023
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When we think about legal issues, many things come to mind. However, personal injury law is one of the most directly impactful fields in our everyday lives. Have you ever wondered, "What is a personal injury lawyer?" or "What does a personal injury lawyer do?" or "How can they help me if I'm injured in an accident?" If so, you're in the right place.

In this article, we'll provide a comprehensive understanding of personal injury law, the role of a personal injury lawyer, and why their expertise is crucial in pursuing justice for accident victims. We'll get into the specifics of personal injury attorney services, the types of cases they handle, and their cost structure.

So whether you're dealing with an insurance claim, navigating medical bills, or contemplating hiring a personal injury attorney, stay with us to better understand this pivotal area of law.

Key Takeaways

What is Personal Injury Law?

Personal injury law exists to protect individuals who have been harmed, either physically or emotionally, due to the negligent, reckless, or intentional actions of others. Essentially, it is a legal mechanism of tort law to help accident or injury victims to recover compensation for their losses, including but not limited to medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

Negligence lies at the heart of personal injury law. It occurs when one party fails to act with the level of care that a reasonable person would exhibit under similar circumstances. If this negligence leads to an accident or injury, the negligent party can be held accountable for the resulting damages. 

For example, a driver who texts while driving and causes a car accident could be found negligent, as a reasonable driver would focus on the road. Similarly, if a company produces a faulty product that injures consumers, it could be held responsible for those injuries.

Personal injury law is pivotal in promoting safety and accountability by providing a deterrent against negligent behavior and offering recourse for those harmed.

Types of Personal Injury Cases

Personal injury law covers a wide variety of circumstances where someone is injured due to the negligence of others. Understanding the different practice areas under personal injury law is important, as each area has unique considerations and requirements.

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Below is a list of some common personal injury practice areas:

1. Motor Vehicle Accidents: This area deals with injuries sustained in car crashes, often resulting from another driver's negligence. When this occurs, you may want to sue for a car accident and hire an attorney.

2. Workplace Injuries: This covers claims for injuries that occur in the workplace or as a result of job-related activities, and typically involve workers' compensation.

3. Medical Malpractice: Medical malpractice involves cases where a healthcare professional fails to provide the standard of care, causing harm to a patient.

4. Premises Liability: This is where slip and fall accidents come into play. Premises liability addresses injuries when an individual slips, trips, or falls due to a hazardous condition on someone else's property.

5. Product Liability: Product liability concerns injuries caused by defective or dangerous products.

6. Mass Torts: This area involves cases where many plaintiffs sue a defendant (or defendants) for a common injury or injury in what is call a class action lawsuit.

7. Wrongful Death: Wrongful death covers cases where a person's death is caused by the wrongful act or negligence of another.

8. Animal Attacks: This area of law deals with injuries caused by animal attacks, such as dog bites and other injuries.

Knowing the specific practice area of personal injury law your case falls under is crucial for understanding your rights and pursuing compensation for your injuries. It's always advisable to consult an experienced personal injury attorney for guidance and representation tailored to the particulars of your case.

What Does a Personal Injury Lawyer Do?

So now you know what personal injury law is, and the types of personal injury cases that can be brought. The next logical questions is "what does a personal injury lawyer do?"

Personal injury lawyers provide legal services to individuals injured due to someone else's negligence, recklessness, or intentional misconduct. They represent their clients in personal injury cases against the parties responsible for their injuries, which often include insurance companies. 

Personal injury attorneys wear multiple hats. Below are just a few of the things persona injury lawyers can do.

Understanding the Law and Your Rights

A personal injury attorney's key task is to investigate the accident's circumstances to determine liability. This process often involves evaluating medical records, interviewing witnesses, and liaising with experts such as accident reconstruction specialists.

They must also understand and apply the relevant laws to each personal injury claim, a complex task given that laws can differ significantly between jurisdictions.

Negotiating with Insurance Companies

Next, your personal injury lawyer will negotiate with the at-fault party's insurance company on their client's behalf. This involves fighting for a fair settlement that adequately covers the client's losses, including medical bills, lost wages, and other damages.

If negotiations are unsuccessful, the personal injury lawyer or law firm is prepared to take the case to court, representing the client throughout the litigation process.

Estimating the Value of Your Claim

Personal injury lawyers have the experience and knowledge to accurately estimate the value of your claim, including the cost of medical treatment, lost wages, and pain and suffering. 

Pursuing Litigation

If a fair settlement cannot be reached, personal injury attorneys will take your case to court, advocating tirelessly for your rights and interests.

Providing Peace of Mind

Above all, a good personal injury attorney provides reassurance. They handle the complexities of your claim, allowing you to focus on your recovery.

Many personal injury lawyers work on a contingency fee basis. This means they only receive payment if they win the case or obtain a settlement for their client. This can provide peace of mind for clients with personal injury claims who know their lawyer is incentivized to fight for the best possible outcome.

Overall, the work of a personal injury attorney revolves around advocating for their clients, protecting their rights, and seeking justice on their behalf.

Having a trusted personal injury lawyer by your side can significantly influence the outcome of your case and your ability to secure the compensation you deserve source.

How Do Personal Injury Damages Work?

If you've been injured due to another's negligence, you can seek compensation for your losses, commonly known as "damages." But what exactly are damages, and how do they work in personal injury law?

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Compensatory Damages

The primary damages in personal injury cases are called compensatory damages. These damages aim to restore the injured party to the state they were in prior to the injury.

They can be further categorized as:

  • Economic Damages: These are quantifiable costs resulting from the injury, such as medical bills, the cost of rehabilitation, lost wages, and future loss of earnings.
  • Non-Economic Damages: These are more subjective and cater to the emotional and psychological impact of the injury. They include pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, and emotional distress.

Punitive Damages

In some circumstances, a personal injury case may involve punitive damages. These are awarded in cases of intentional tort, extreme negligence, or malicious intent to punish the wrongdoer and deter others from similar conduct. They are awarded over and above compensatory damages.

Calculating damages can be complex and requires understanding the extent of the injury, the impact on mental health and the victim's life, and the circumstances of the negligence. A personal injury lawyer is instrumental in helping clients comprehend and calculate their potential damages, ensuring that nothing is overlooked in the pursuit of a fair settlement.

How Much Does a Personal Injury Lawyer Cost?

One of the most common concerns for those considering legal representation in a serious personal injury lawsuit case is the cost involved. For example, if you are considering bringing a slip and fall lawsuit, you'll want to know how much does a slip and fall lawyer cost? Likewise for a car accident lawyer's fees.

Here's what you should know about how a personal injury law firm may charge for representation:

  • Contingency Fee Basis: Most personal injury attorneys work on what's known as a "contingency fee basis." This means that their fees are contingent (dependent) on them winning your case. If they don't win, you don't pay.
  • Typical Contingency Fees: While this can vary, the typical contingency fee is between 33% to 40% of the settlement or award. Some lawyers may use a sliding scale based on the stage at which the case is resolved (e.g., before trial, during trial, after appeal).
  • Other Costs: Legal fees aren't the only costs involved in a case. Personal injury lawsuits can involve additional expenses such as court filing fees, charges for obtaining medical records, and fees for expert witnesses. It's important to discuss with your lawyer how these costs are covered.

Although the cost of a lawyer can seem high, it's essential to consider the value they bring. Their expertise can lead to significantly higher settlements, and they shoulder the burden of the legal process, letting you focus on recovery.

The Final Word on Personal Injury Lawyers

Understanding the role and benefits of a personal injury lawyer is crucial when facing the aftermath of an accident.

These dedicated professionals navigate complex legal terrain, advocate for your rights, and work tirelessly to secure fair compensation for your losses.