Injuries are painful and stressful -- and they can be expensive as well. Your costs may include medical bills, lost wages, and your ability to earn money in the future. If you were injured because of someone else’s actions or failure to act, the responsible party may be required to compensate you for your losses. To make that happen, you'll probably need to take legal steps.
It’s not always necessary to hire a personal injury lawyer to handle a legal claim. If your injuries are minor and your case is relatively simple, you may be able to gather the information you need and get good results on your own -- for example, by working with insurance companies when the other party was clearly at fault in a fender bender. However, if your case is complex or your injuries severe, an experienced lawyer may be anything from a great help to a downright necessity.
What a Personal Injury Lawyer Does
There are many ways a lawyer can help you with a personal injury claim. For example, a qualified lawyer can help you:
- Figure out whether you have a “good” personal injury case -- that is, one that you’re likely to win.
- Complete and file what may be piles of complicated paperwork, making sure you don’t miss deadlines.
- Understand and navigate complex legal rules or regulations that may affect your claim.
- Find investigators and expert witnesses who can increase your chances of success.
- Negotiate with insurance companies, often using well-established relationships with claims adjusters.
- Negotiate with lawyers representing any company or organization from which you are seeking compensation.
- Determine whether a proposed settlement offer is in your best interests.
- Figure out whether your claim might be best resolved using mediation or arbitration, rather than going to court.
- Take your case to trial if you decide that’s the best course of action.
- Stay objective. You won’t get the best results if your judgment is clouded by pain, anger, frustration, or fear. A good lawyer can help you make clear-minded decisions about your case.
Find a Good Personal Injury Lawyer
Like tax law, family law, or bankruptcy law, personal injury law is a specialty. Within the field of personal injury law, lawyers often specialize in certain types of personal injury claims -- for example, auto accidents, medical malpractice, slip and fall cases, or toxic exposure.
Someone claiming to be a personal injury lawyer should be able to point to experience and deep knowledge of the specialized area of personal injury law and, specifically, your local network of investigators, expert witnesses, mediators, and courts.
For an experienced lawyer, most personal injury cases are routine. Chances are good that an experienced personal injury attorney has seen a case like yours before. The lawyer you choose should be able to advise you on the best way to proceed with your personal injury case given your injuries, the circumstances that caused them, and the evidence and resources available to resolve your claim.
If you're going to hire a personal injury lawyer, make sure you get a good one. Do your homework and comparison shop before you hire someone to represent you.