What do you need to know before hiring a personal injury lawyer? And when do you need one? Experiencing a personal injury due to negligence has the power to change your life forever. Regardless of the severity of the injury, it is tough to deal with hospitals, insurance companies, and medical bills; you might feel that your life has come to a pause. Insurance companies often try to settle for the least possible amount of money without considering other damages such as pain and suffering that could have long-term implications for you. You are recovering from a physical injury, but it also comes with adverse emotional effects such as not being able to work, perform your daily activities, or lose the ability to do something you love.
The National Center for Health Statistics has stated that around 31 million people are injured annually and require medical treatment, and many of them do not get the compensation they deserve. Filing for a lawsuit can seem like a very tedious process to start, and settling for whatever money is offered by the negligent party, may seem tempting; however, frequently, you will barely get enough to cover your initial medical expenses, let alone compensations for time off work or for any future complications that may arise.
This article will give you information about what a personal injury attorney does and tips for hiring a personal injury lawyer.
Benefits of Hiring a Personal Injury Lawyer
A personal injury attorney provides legal representation to individuals injured in an accident. Attorneys working in personal injury cases specialize in tort law. According to Cornell Law School, “a tort is an act or omission that gives rise to injury or harm to another and amounts to a civil wrong for which courts impose liability,” including negligent and intentional acts.
Personal injury lawyers pursue compensation for accident victims. They are civil litigators engaged in representing clients who are the plaintiffs in a case where they are alleging that they have suffered and been injured physically or psychologically due to the negligent acts of another individual, company, organization, or even government.
Personal injury attorneys cover a wide variety of cases. An important tip when hiring a personal injury attorney is to remember that personal injury attorneys may specialize in the types of cases they take. Some may focus on medical malpractice cases, while others concentrate on corporate liability.
Common Personal Injury Cases
- Motor vehicle accidents: A motor vehicle accident can cause injury in virtually any part of the body, depending on the impact and severity of the collision.
- Medical malpractice: Medical malpractice is defined as an act or omission by a physician during the treatment of a patient that shifts from accepted standards of procedure in the medical community and causes an injury to the patient.
- Product liability: Products containing inherent defects that cause harm to a consumer (or someone who borrowed or received the product) of the product would be the subjects of products liability suits.
- Premises liability: A personal injury case caused by an unsafe or defective condition on someone’s property, such as spills on the floor, slips and falls, hazardous construction zones, defective building or sidewalk, inadequate building security, or toxic fumes and chemicals.
- Brain injury: Brain injuries may be classified as mild concussions or more severe brain injuries, like traumatic brain injuries (TBI), that can cause permanent damage to a victim.
- Wrongful death: A wrongful death suit is a specific type of legal action arising from a personal injury case that resulted in death; the deceased loved one usually files the lawsuit and seeks financial compensation for potential damages incurred from the loss of a loved one.
Another tip for hiring a personal injury attorney is remembering that evidence is crucial to proving your claim. An attorney with expertise in filing your type of claim will take charge of investigating your claim and gathering evidence to support it. For example, in a car accident case, your attorney will hire experts and gather evidence about the location of the accident, including if the area has frequent incidents.
Personal injury attorneys should know all applicable state and federal laws and have a clear idea of an appropriate settlement for your case.
Another benefit of personal injury attorneys is that they have experience dealing with insurance companies. Often, insurance companies (for example, medical malpractice insurance, car insurance, premises liability insurance, or product insurance) might try to settle for the least possible compensation. It can be challenging to get the financial reparations that the injured deserve. When the offer is too low, an attorney can help seek better compensation for the incident, including medical bills, lost wages, or pain and suffering.
When insurance companies refuse to offer a fair settlement, attorneys can help to file a complaint against the defendant. If a personal injury case goes to trial, a personal injury attorney will represent their clients in court and will take the necessary steps to achieve the best outcome for your case.
What To Consider When Hiring a Personal Injury Attorney
An online search for a personal injury attorney may provide you with a long list of results that can seem overwhelming and challenging to sort through. Personal injury attorneys who pay for their names to appear at the top of the list will come up first, but just because they are at the top doesn’t mean they are your best option.
Here are a few tips to consider before you want to hire a personal injury attorney.
Personal injury attorneys work differently from other types of lawyers. They will usually ask for a percentage of the reward instead of a typical hourly rate. These contingency fees will vary by attorney and case. You should base your choice on the attorney’s skills, knowledge, and success rate, not what they charge. However, you don’t want to pay too much. The average contingency fee is 33.3%, but they can go as high as 40%.
It would be best if you always looked for a personal injury attorney that will help you through the whole process from the beginning to the end. With a proactive work style, looking for the best solution, gathering evidence, and communicating well with you and the other party.
Some attorneys offer personal injury as one of their services, but if it is not the primary area of law they focus on, they may not have the skills to meet your needs. A vital tip when hiring a personal injury attorney is to hire a lawyer specializing in personal injury cases.
You want to hire a personal injury attorney who understands the process, can analyze the possible outcomes, and is willing to fight for the best possible results. You must hire a personal injury attorney who has successfully handled cases similar to yours.
Relationships with Previous Clients
You should feel comfortable with whomever you hire as your personal injury attorney. You expect this person to fight for you in court, and you need to feel that you can be completely honest with them. One of evaluating how an attorney relates to their clients is by talking with previous clients to see if their experience was positive.
How Personal Injury Lawyers Make Money
Most personal injury attorneys only get paid if you when your case. As mentioned above, they base their fee on a percentage of the final settlement or award. Frequently, victims of negligence are left unable to work, or they were already somewhat financially disadvantaged before the injury.
A tip to remember about hiring a personal injury attorney is that failing their client is the same as failing themselves. The victim does not have to pay the lawyer directly; instead, their payment comes out of whatever the client receives in the end. Contingency fees incentivize attorneys to do a better job getting monetary compensation for their clients.
What Attorneys Base Contingency Agreements On
Other types of attorneys base their fees on hourly rates and fixed fees for certain tasks, like writing a will or handling a simple divorce. In personal injury cases, the attorneys base the amount on an agreement with the victim.
Factors that determine the percentage an attorney will receive are how complex the case is, the risk involved, and the anticipated litigation costs.
The percentage can increase when a case seems more complex and requires more time and effort to succeed and receive monetary gain. In cases where it is likely that the case will succeed, the rate may be lower.
There are costs involved in starting and opening a personal injury case that the attorney usually covers when making a contingency fee agreement. Therefore, there are payments such as fees for filing the lawsuit in federal court. There are also costs associated with the discovery phase, such as depositions, requests for admissions, interrogatories, or requests for production.
The disadvantage of retainer fees is that they might discourage people from pursuing their personal injury lawsuits. When you hire a personal injury attorney, your odds of getting the compensation you deserve are greater, so not ruling out paying a retainer fee when hiring a personal injury lawyer is an excellent tip to remember.
A retainer fee ensures the receiver’s commitment and is an amount of money paid upfront to secure the services of an attorney. While the attorney sometimes uses the money to cover costs, its primary purpose is to guarantee that the attorney will provide the work you hired them to do. Retainer fees usually are not refundable, and you will have to pay additional costs, which they will most likely have addressed in the contingency agreement.
Retainer fees help cover some initial costs, like getting expert testimony. Many experts expect payment for their time, especially if they have to testify in court. An upfront retainer fee can make the lawyer’s task easier by providing money for paying experts, covering costs for gathering evidence, and investigating your claim.
Questions to Ask Your Attorney
Before hiring a personal injury lawyer, a helpful tip is to ask questions to see if the attorney is a good fit. There are things you need to know before signing the contingency agreement.
- How much do you charge for your services?
- What is your contingency fee fixed percentage?
- Do you have retainer fees?
- Have you dealt with cases similar to mine before?
- How many years have you been working with personal injury?
- What has been one of your most notable cases?
- Have you worked on cases that have gone to trial?
- Do you have testimonials from previous clients?
- What are the significant difficulties in my case?
- Do you think we have the potential for a great outcome?
- What happens if my case goes to trial?
- How will you be communicating with me?
- How often?
- Will you be keeping me updated on the process?
Don’t Wait Too Long
A tip for hiring a personal injury lawyer is not to wait too long before filing your suit. It is essential to note that there is a statute of limitations or time limit of two years in Illinois from the moment of the accident to filing a lawsuit.
The process can initially be overwhelming, and filing a case might not be at the top of your priorities when dealing with the immediate situation. Still, waiting could lead to you getting nothing for the physical and emotional harm you have experienced.
Summing It Up
Not all attorneys or law firms have the qualifications to handle a personal injury case, so we recommend that you find one specializing in tort law. You can search for a personal injury attorney who concentrates on specific types of cases, like workplace accidents or medical malpractice.
An injury can be extremely costly, with medical bills, including hospitalization in some cases and loss of time at work, and dealing with emotional trauma, like post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The negligent party will seldom offer the level of compensation you need and deserve. Hiring a personal injury attorney and filing a claim is the best way to get your desired results.
The purpose of personal injury law is to assist the victims of negligence. If you are in the Chicagoland area, you can contact the offices of Trent Law Firm, P.C., today to discuss your case and how our experienced personal injury attorneys may be able to help. Call (866) 599-8601 for a confidential consultation.