What do Personal Injury Lawyers do?
The steps that a personal injury lawyer might take in a claim will depend on the type of case that it is. There are some general steps that apply to most personal injury cases, however. Here are some things that your personal injury attorney might do in your case.
1. Evaluate potential claims
Personal injury attorneys carefully screen potential claims that people present to them. Since most injury lawyers work on a contingency basis, they are careful about the claims that they will agree to accept. The evaluation process may include an investigation into the merits of the claims.
2. Gather evidence
Personal injury lawyers may gather evidence to support their clients' claims. They may hire accident reconstruction experts to show what happened in the moments leading up to the accidents by taking careful measurements and photographs and then conducting scientific analyses of the data. They may also get copies of the police reports about the accident and their clients' medical reports. The attorneys may use investigators to find witnesses and get their statements. Gathering the evidence can play an important role in the ultimate outcomes of the cases.
3. Negotiate with the insurance companies
When you have a personal injury attorney representing you, your lawyer will handle the negotiations with the insurance companies that are involved in the case. As a part of this process, they might review the policies and determine the maximum amount of money that might be available. Your lawyer might also advise you against signing any documents that the insurance company might send to you or giving recorded statements. Finally, the attorney may negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf and send a demand letter outlining your legal claims and the amount of compensation that you are demanding to settle your claim.
4. Draft and file complaints
If the insurance company refuses to settle your claim for a reasonable amount or disputes liability, your lawyer may draft and file a civil complaint with the court that has jurisdiction to hear your claim. This document is a legal pleading that is filed to formally commence a lawsuit against the defendant or defendants. Once it is filed, it will need to be properly served on the defendant and the insurance company. The defendant will then have time to file his or her reply.
5. Go through the discovery process
After the complaint and answer have been filed, the case will go through a process called discovery. During this phase, both your lawyer and the defense lawyer will exchange the evidence that each side has in the case. Your lawyer may also send interrogatories to the defendant and conduct depositions.
6. Prepare for and go to trial
Personal injury attorneys continue to negotiate with the insurance companies throughout the pendency of their cases. Most of the time, the claims will be settled before they go to trial. However, good personal injury attorneys prepare their cases as if they are going to trial. If the insurance companies refuse to settle the cases for reasonable amounts, the lawyers may litigate for their clients at jury trials.
If you have been in an accident, you might wonder whether or not you should talk to a lawyer. You might also wonder whether getting help from a personal injury lawyer is necessary or if you can instead handle your claim on your own. A personal injury lawyer is a type of attorney who practices in an area of civil law called tort law. Tort law includes cases in which the plaintiffs have suffered civil wrongs because of the negligent, reckless or intentional actions of others. Personal injury attorneys represent injured plaintiffs in order to try to recover compensation for them.