Personal injury law focuses on an individual's compensation after he or she succumbs to injuries caused by someone else either intentionally or due to carelessness/negligence. Personal injury lawyers help victims recover financial compensation to pay for medical bills, pain and suffering, make-up for lost wages, and injuries sustained. It is essential to understand that personal injury attorneys specialize in tort law. Tort law usually covers all civil litigation for wrongdoings or injuries that result from negligence. Ergo, one of the main objectives of personal injury lawyers is to make the plaintiff (their client) whole again and discourage other people from committing similar offenses. Medical malpractice, defective products, workplace injuries, slip and fall, and motor vehicle accidents are common personal injury practice areas.
Duties of a personal injury lawyer
A personal injury attorney performs numerous responsibilities that include:
i. Explaining your rights
The best personal injury lawyers explain how an accident and legal issues can affect your rights. Although different states have different laws concerning the statutes of limitations and how comparative negligence affects the case, an experienced personal injury attorney can explain your rights to ensure you get the right compensation.
Statute of limitation dictates the time limit within which the lawsuit must be filed. At the same time, comparative negligence determines whether the victim can sue if he was partially to blame for the accident. Also, comparative negligence determines how much the victim can recover in compensation for the injuries sustained.
ii. Provides professional advice
An injury attorney can offer professional advice to help the victim understand all legal procedures, insurance terms, interpret and understand their medical practices and fill all the paperwork required with ease. When one sustains injuries, their judgment can be clouded by stress, anger, frustration, or fear.
iii. Court representation
Typically, personal injury cases do not go to trial because they are settled before the victim files a lawsuit. However, a civil trial is the only option if the insurance company denies the claim. Since litigation is complex, consider getting professional help from a personal injury attorney from schlacterlaw.com.
When should you hire a personal injury attorney?
If there are no severe injuries, the damages are minimal, and the defendant is offering a reasonable settlement, you may not need a personal injury attorney's help. However, here are three critical times you need to hire the best personal injury attorney:
If you hadn't involved a personal injury law firm and you are sure the other party was responsible for injuries sustained/accident and the insurance company doesn't want to take the responsibility, consider hiring an injury attorney.
When multiple parties are involved
Dealing with various parties as a novice in personal injury claims is complicated. Hence, if several parties or vehicles are involved, always seek help from a personal injury firm. Some cases involving several parties include when several cars pileup or a scenario involving contractors, sub-contractors & employees consider hiring the best personal injury lawyer in your locality. He or she can help you identify all parties that might share liability and the parties who can act as defendants.
When you are offered a settlement
It is crucial to consult a personal injury lawyer before you accept compensation. Usually, insurance companies tend to try to get rid of cases quickly to avoid going to trial. When insurance companies settle personal injury claims outside the court, they minimize their payouts. However, if you are not keen or knowledgeable about personal injury compensation, you might get tricked. A personal lawyer can help you determine whether the offer is fair.
How much is your injury claim worth?
Although there is no predetermined amount or formula insurance companies or defendants use when agreeing to personal injury settlements, some factors come in handy. Remember, even if you consult an experienced personal injury attorney, it is difficult to determine your claim worth at first. However, here are some of the ways you can get your claims:
- Past medical expenses – If you incurred medical expenses due to the injury, you could get reimbursed whether the bill is unpaid, paid the bill yourself, or your insurance company footed the bill. However, if your insurance company paid your bill, they will get a lien, i.e., they will get reimbursed instead. Please note that car accidents are exceptional to this rule.
- Future medical expenses – if you need medical treatment in the future, your personal injury lawyer presents evidence (usually a testimony from your doctor or medical expert) showing the type of medical treatment required, frequency, and total cost. After careful assessment, you will get compensated for future medical expenses.
- Past wage loss – if you missed work due to the injuries, you must be compensated. Such compensations also include other benefits lost, such as retirement contributions, health insurance benefits, and pension benefits. Your personal injury attorney will seek professional help from an economic expert to avoid making a mistake.
- Future wage loss – if your injuries will affect your ability to work in the future, your injury attorney can inquire for compensation for the expected wage loss. Once again, your personal injury lawyer will seek help from an economic expert to present expert testimony.
- Pain & suffering – a personal injury that results in pain; for instance, slip & fall and car accidents, you can get compensated for the present, past, and future physical, mental and emotional pain. You can also get reimbursed for shock, suffering, embarrassment, depression, discomfort, and inability to perform your household chores.
- Punitive damage – punitive damages are aimed at punishing the defendant for outrageous conduct. The main objective of punitive damage is to discourage the defendant and others like him from engaging in similar misconduct.
- Property damage – if your car or property suffered damage due to negligence from the other party, you can get a reimbursement for your property damage. However, you can only get reimbursed if your insurance company did not pay for the damages.
Time limits for personal injury claims
Personal injuries involving children are handled differently. If a minor is involved in an accident (under 18 years), a claim should be made within two years. If no claim is made within two years (following the accident), the two-year claim starts when the child reaches 18. However, the minor can bring the injury claim forward if the guardian or parent files a case. Filing a lawsuit before the child's 18th birthday is advisable to get all the sources and resources available to strengthen the case.
For adults, one should notify the at-fault's insurance company before filing a claim. This should be done soon after the accident. However, it is prudent to avoid demanding compensation or start negotiating for settlement until you've entirely recovered from injuries.