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This article is written by Nidhi Bajaj, of Guru Nanak Dev University, Punjab. In this article, the author has talked about the various types of work that a personal injury lawyer does and the various benefits of hiring a personal injury lawyer. 

This article has been published by Rachit Garg.

Introduction 

Personal Injury law is a branch of tort law that deals with the subject of providing compensation to individuals who have suffered any physical, psychological or emotional injury due to the negligence of some individual. The negligent individual can be held legally responsible for paying damages to the injured victim. Such damages are awarded based on the degree of injury caused and certain other considerations. Monetary compensation is provided to enable the injured to meet the medical expenses, to make up for any lost income and to compensate for the physical suffering, emotional distress or mental anguish caused to the person. In this article, the author will talk about the various types of work that a personal injury lawyer does and the benefits of hiring a personal injury lawyer.

Who are personal injury lawyers 

A personal injury lawyer is a civil lawyer who provides legal representation to an individual injured in an accident or due to the negligence or lack of care or even deliberate intent of any person. They help their clients to recover financial compensation for the injuries or mental anguish suffered. The practice of personal injury lawyers typically involves cases of motor vehicle accidents, slip and fall accidents, defective products, workplace injuries and medical malpractice.

Cases handled by personal injury lawyers

The various types of cases that the personal injury lawyers deal with are as follows:

  • Animal bite injuries
  • Transportation accidents
  • Automotive accidents
  • Boating accidents
  • Aviation accidents
  • Burn injuries
  • Pedestrian accidents
  • Construction accidents
  • Defective products
  • Insurance claims
  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Medical malpractice
  • Nursing home abuse
  • Slip and fall accidents
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Child daycare negligence
  • Wrongful death, etc.

Types of compensation

The compensation that you may get in a personal injury case will depend on the unique facts and circumstances of each case. The various types of compensation or damages that you might get in a personal injury case are as follows—

  • Compensation for loss of profit 
  • Remuneration for care and help
  • Loss of income
  • Loss of earning capacity
  • Emotional distress
  • Loss of consortium
  • Mental anguish
  • Future loss of profit
  • Compensation for loss of pleasant/agreeable business
  • Clinical expenses
  • Loss of possibilities of a marriage  

What do personal injury lawyers do

Personal injury lawyers perform all the tasks that a lawyer usually performs such as drafting pleadings, preparing case briefs and research etc. Personal injury lawyers specialise in tort law and they advocate for their clients both before and during the trial. The work of a personal injury lawyer includes the following—

Investigating claims

Personal Injury lawyers typically get paid on a contingency basis i.e. the fees will be payable only when a favourable settlement is made. This means that the personal injury lawyer will get paid only if the compensation is recovered from the party at fault. As the personal injury lawyer has to finance the case himself until a favourable verdict or settlement is reached, they take great care in evaluating and screening the clients. They carefully investigate the claims and take up only those cases that they believe have potential for a win.

Investigation and evidence gathering

The work of a personal injury lawyer begins with gathering all the facts and details of the case. This includes facts relating to the nature and extent of injury caused. The gathering of facts and evidence is important as it helps to prove the liability of the wrongdoer. This also includes— 

  • Taking pictures of the property damaged
  • Gathering accident report
  • Gathering of medical reports, bills, medical records,
  • Gathering employment documents and employment reports
  • Collecting property damage reports
  • Tracking witnesses
  • Procurement of police reports, surveillance footage and witness statements

Negotiating with insurance companies

Negotiation skills are very important for a personal injury lawyer. Personal injury lawyers negotiate with the insurance companies on a regular basis. From reviewing the policy details to determining the maximum compensation and sending demand letters for damages, a personal injury lawyer handles all the communications with the insurance company. They ensure that the injury victim does not do anything that might jeopardise his claim. 

Preparation of pleadings

In case the insurance company refuses to pay the damages, the personal injury lawyer prepares a complaint against the defendant. The complaint contains all the details of the incident and the legal arguments as to how and why the defendant is responsible for the accident. The amount of compensation sought is also written in the complaint. Usually, the defendant is given 30 days to file his reply to the complaint. 

Conducting discovery

A personal injury lawyer may initiate the discovery process which includes—

  • sending interrogatories to the defendant asking for certain information,
  • deposing the parties,
  • deposing witnesses and experts.

Representing the client at trial

It is trite that most personal injury claims get settled before reaching a trial. However, if the case proceeds to trial, a personal injury lawyer represents his client in the court and argues for him just like any other lawyer would.

Assessing damages

An accident victim only thinks about the immediate impact of an accident—the medical expenses, the repairs or the insurance claim. But a personal injury lawyer is a specialist in the field whose work includes assessing both short term and long term impacts of accidents on a routine basis in a number of different cases. He assists the client in making a real, true and accurate assessment of the damages, both immediate and long term including the loss of earning capacity or assessing the lifetime impact, in case some disability has occurred. 

Assisting in a variety of legal processes

Sometimes a personal injury case is referred to an alternative dispute resolution mechanism, such as arbitration. In such a case, the personal injury lawyer presents the case of the injury victim before the arbitrator. He may also help in negotiating an out of court settlement with the defendant or the insurance company.

When to hire a personal injury lawyer

There is no need to hire a personal injury lawyer in every case. For instance, in cases where the accident is not very serious, and the damages or the injuries sustained are minimal, and a reasonable settlement offer is on the table, there is no need to hire a lawyer. But sometimes the case might not be as simple as it seems or may become complicated at a subsequent stage.

You should hire a personal injury lawyer when—

  1. You know that the other party was responsible for the accident, but the insurance company denies the payment of the claim.
  2. The case is complicated as multiple parties or multiple vehicles were involved in the accident. In such a case, the personal injury lawyer will help in identifying the parties who are to be named as defendants and who will share the liability.
  3. A settlement is offered to you and you feel that the amount is not reasonable. In such cases, it is beneficial to consult an experienced personal injury lawyer before accepting the settlement.

Things you need to tell your personal injury lawyer

Besides the instance of injury and how it was caused, there are certain essential details that you have to tell your personal injury in order to enable him to effectively deal with your case. Such things are—

  1. Criminal history or bankruptcy: If there is an instance that might affect your case, you need to disclose it to your lawyer. This could include any felony or misdemeanour or the fact of bankruptcy. 
  2. Prior injuries: If you have had any prior injuries or issues with the areas or body parts affected by the accident, you must disclose it to your lawyer. This is because the insurance company representatives will usually turn up with the full medical records of the injured victim of the past several years and it might affect your case if your lawyer doesn’t know the truth. 
  3. Prior claims: If you have made any prior insurance claims and/or have received any insurance claim particularly in respect of an injury, you must disclose the same to your lawyer on the very first day. If you are truthful and straightforward with your lawyer, your chance at getting a better settlement increases.

Reasons to hire a personal injury lawyer

Personal injury lawyers are professional and objective

Accidents and other personal injuries can cause a lot of pain—physical suffering and emotional trauma as well. In such circumstances, the victim and his family might not be in a position to think clearly. Their sole focus is on taking care of the medical needs of the victim. Pursuing an injury claim is a secondary thought. A personal injury lawyer, who is a specialist in this field will take care of all the legal issues involved in the matter and with his skill and experience, he will get you a settlement that you deserve and/or need.

Personal injury lawyers are good negotiators

Personal Injury lawyers negotiate with insurance companies and the at-fault parties on a routine basis. An injury lawyer, with his persuasion and negotiation skills, will get you an offer much higher than the one you would be willing to settle for. 

Personal Injury lawyers help you make better decisions

Sometimes a party may find himself at crossroads as to what action is to be taken or what remedy is to be pursued. In such a situation, a personal injury lawyer will guide you according to the peculiar circumstances of a case and what course of action is best suited for the same. Also, a personal injury lawyer will tell you about your rights and will also help you figure out the amount of compensation you are rightfully entitled to.

Personal Injury lawyers get you faster compensation

You might have to wait for full recovery before you can go and file a personal injury claim. However, if you hire a good personal injury lawyer, he can take care of all that on your behalf. This way you will be able to get faster compensation.

How do personal injury lawyers get paid

As mentioned earlier, personal injury lawyers typically charge a contingency fee. It is an arrangement in which the payment of fees is dependent on the outcome. The lawyer will get paid only if the case concludes in your favour. When you hire a personal injury lawyer, you have to sign an agreement that stipulates that you agree to pay a percentage of the settlement money to the lawyer as his fees. In case you win the case, the lawyer will take a certain percentage of the final settlement as his fees. But if no money is recovered, then the client does not have to pay the lawyer’s fee.

Conclusion

If you have been injured in an accident, having a personal injury lawyer on your side is an intelligent choice. A personal injury lawyer will explain your rights to your and will guide you through the various options available to you. The most important reason for hiring a personal injury lawyer is perhaps the complexity of insurance law. We all have insurance but not all of us understand it. Also, in these cases, insurance companies are always in a hurry to settle a claim for less than it is worth. At this juncture, a personal injury lawyer can help his client to assess the situation in a better way and not give in to anything less than what he deserves. Lastly, when you suffer an injury, it is essential for your speedy recovery that you focus on healing rather than worrying. Hence, you should let your personal injury lawyer take care of the rest for you.

References


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Students of Lawsikho courses regularly produce writing assignments and work on practical exercises as a part of their coursework and develop themselves in real-life practical skills.

LawSikho has created a telegram group for exchanging legal knowledge, referrals, and various opportunities. You can click on this link and join: https://t.me/joinchat/L9vr7LmS9pJjYTQ9

Follow us on Instagram and subscribe to our YouTube channel for more amazing legal content.

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