Frequently Asked Questions
Personal injury attorneys provide legal representation for people who have been injured in accidents. They ensure that victims understand their legal rights and help them pursue compensation for their injuries. This guide will outline the services these legal professionals offer and explain why you may need them.
Do I Need a Personal Injury Lawyer?
If you have been injured in an accident, you may be wondering whether you need the help of an attorney. Here are some important things to consider.
Should I contact or hire an injury lawyer?
Many accident victims are initially reluctant to reach out to a law firm, but it is almost always the best course of action, especially if you have suffered any sort of injury. Injury law is complex, and an attorney could carefully review your case and answer your questions. This will help you fully understand your legal options and help you make informed decisions about your case.
If a law firm reviews your case and recommends legal action, you should hire an attorney as soon as possible. Each state has a statute of limitations for personal injury cases. If your case is not filed within the required time, your right to sue for compensation may be forever lost.
When do you need an injury lawyer?
Personal injuries can leave you with enormous medical bills and diminish your quality of life. Insurance companies are notorious for offering low settlements or refusing to pay. If you’ve suffered any type of injury in an accident, you may need an attorney to help you obtain full compensation.
What Can a Personal Injury Lawyer Do for Me?
An injury attorney’s job is to help victims with their legal rights and get fair compensation for their physical, mental and financial losses. In many cases, this involves proving negligence on the part of other individuals or entities.
What do injury lawyers do?
Here are some of the basic services injury lawyers provide:
- Case evaluation
- Explanation of rights and legal options
- Legal guidance
How can an injury lawyer help?
Depending on the details of your case, an injury attorney could also help you by:
- Investigating the accident
- Obtaining medical records, witness statements and other evidence
- Sending demand letters
- Negotiating with the insurance company
Do injury attorneys go to court?
Most personal injury cases are settled out of court. However, if an insurance company denies a claim and refuses to pay a settlement, it may be necessary to go to trial. If that happens, your legal counsel could:
- Prepare court filings
- Conduct discovery, which means to exchange evidence with opposing counsel
- Represent your interests in court
What Types of Cases Do Personal Injury Lawyers Handle?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 31 million Americans seek emergency treatment for accidental injuries each year. Examples of these injuries include traumatic brain injuries, broken bones, cuts and abrasions, lacerations (cuts), burns, damage to internal organs, neck injuries, back injuries and other spinal injuries.
If you are injured in an accident caused by another party, you have the right to sue for compensation. Here are some of the most common causes of injury cases.
Car, truck and motorcycle accidents
Traffic accidents are responsible for most personal injury cases filed in the United States. Many of these accidents are caused by negligent drivers, including drivers who are speeding, cell phones, distracted, drowsy or impaired by drugs or alcohol.
Slip, trips and falls
Property owners are required to keep their premises or property reasonably safe from hazards. Despite this, thousands of people are injured in slip, trip and fall accidents while visiting businesses and private properties every year.
Patients depend on doctors to diagnose and treat their medical conditions. Unfortunately, some doctors fail to provide their duty of care and end up harming patients. Some of the most common forms of medical malpractice include misdiagnosis, medication errors and surgical mistakes.
In 2019, private industry workers suffered 2.8 million on-the-job injuries or illnesses, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. While most workplace accidents are covered under an employer’s workers’ compensation insurance, injured employees are allowed to pursue personal injury claims under certain circumstances.
Dog bites are traumatic events that can lead to severe injuries and permanent disfigurement. In California, dog owners are financially liable for all bite injuries caused by their dog. This “strict liability” even applies to dogs that haven’t been aggressive in the past.
Product manufacturers are legally required to ensure the safety of their products. When companies sell defective products to the public, they can be held legally liable for any injuries that occur as a result of the defect. Examples of defective products include defective auto parts, defective furniture, defective child car seats and defective toys.
How Do I Select the Right Personal Injury Lawyer?
Once you’ve decided to seek compensation for your injuries, you may be wondering how to find the best injury lawyer in your area. Choosing an attorney is a big decision and you shouldn’t necessarily choose someone with the biggest billboard or the flashiest website. You need to find a trustworthy professional who is highly qualified to handle your case.
Here are some tips for finding the right attorney:
- Focus on attorneys with experience handling your type of accident
- Ask friends, family, and colleagues if they can recommend attorneys with this type of experience
- Research the websites and online reviews of suggested lawyers
- Speak to potential candidates on the phone
- Arrange meetings with two or three top candidates
Questions you should ask an injury lawyer during your meeting:
- How much experience do you have with my type of accident case?
- Who will be handling my case?
- What is the statute of limitations for my case?
- How long do you think it will take to resolve my case?
- Is my case likely to be settled out of court or go to trial?
- If my case is successful, how much compensation might I expect?
How Much Does a Personal Injury Lawyer Cost?
Many accident victims have difficulty paying for legal assistance in advance. Because of this, you may be wondering how injury lawyers get paid and when they collect their fees. It’s important to understand your lawyer’s fee schedule before moving forward with your case.
Do all injury lawyers work on contingency?
Most injury attorneys work on contingency, which means they don’t get paid until you obtain a settlement. If you don’t get a settlement, the attorney does not collect any fees.
What is the average contingency fee of an injury lawyer?
While contingency fees are often helpful for clients, they represent a risk for attorneys. As a result, these fees are usually expensive. Typical contingency fees can claim around 33 1/3% to 40% of a client’s settlement.
What percentage of my money will injury lawyers get?
Contingency fees aren’t the only fees that injury attorneys charge. They also bill you for any expenses they incurred while working on your case. Some of the most common expenses associated with injury cases include:
- Acquisition of medical records
- Acquisition of police reports
- Expert witness fees
- Investigation fees
- Court filing fees
Some lawyers bill clients for these expenses as they are incurred, but most will pay them upfront and subtract them from your settlement. With contingency fees and expenses, the attorney’s final percentage could total between 45% and 60% of your settlement.
Are contingency fees worth it?
If your accident claim is small, it might make economic sense to handle the case on your own in small claims court. However, if you have a large claim or are dealing with an insurance company that refuses to pay, it is probably in your financial interest to hire an attorney on a contingency fee basis.
Do Injury Lawyers Always Win?
No, injury lawyers do not always win. Injury cases can be complicated and difficult to prove, meaning that no outcome can be guaranteed. However, your chances of obtaining a settlement are much higher if you have an experienced injury attorney guiding you through the legal process.
Up to 95% of all injury cases are settled before going to trial, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. Unfortunately, it’s common for big insurance companies to drag their feet and attempt to litigate their way out of paying fair compensation. Injury attorneys understand the legal system and know all the tricks insurers use to get out of paying a settlement. This knowledge and expertise can speed up the process and help you get the maximum settlement amount possible.
What Can I Do to Strengthen My Injury Case?
Injury claims are typically filed when someone is injured due to the negligence of another individual or entity. To obtain compensation, you must provide evidence proving the other party was at fault. With this in mind, you can strengthen your case by:
- Taking photos of the accident scene
- Taking photos of your injuries
- Getting medical documentation of your injuries
- Obtaining the names and contact information of any witnesses
- Writing down everything you remember about the events surrounding the accident
- Promptly contacting a legal firm for advice
What Kind of Settlement Can I Expect?
Every injury case is unique. Most injury damages are considered compensatory and are intended to reimburse victims for their physical, mental and financial losses. In order to determine the extent of your losses, legal counsel will consider a number of individual factors, including:
- Your current and future medical expenses
- Your current and future loss of income
- Your property losses
- Your pain and suffering
- Your emotional distress
In rare cases where a defendant acted with extreme carelessness or gross negligence, legal counsel might also pursue punitive damages, which are also known as exemplary damages. These damages are intended to punish the defendant for their actions and deter them, or others, from ever repeating such egregious actions again.