Are you wondering what a personal injury lawyer does? There are more than 1.35 million licensed attorneys in the USA but personal injury lawyers are unique. Their specialization makes them stand out from the rest of their colleagues.
For example, a criminal defense lawyer represents someone accused of a crime. A personal injury attorney advocates on behalf of the interests of someone injured by another party’s negligence. Read on to learn what a personal injury lawyer does and why it’s so important!
Meeting With Clients
A personal injury attorney usually works for themselves or as part of a law firm. Regardless of their employment, they must advertise their services. It’s common to advertise online and in TV commercials. Although marketing is a common cost of running a law firm, meeting with clients is important.
The first meeting between an attorney and prospective client is the initial consultation. During this meeting, the lawyer and client have their first opportunity to meet. They will also discuss the case, including the facts and injuries. Then the lawyer will give their general legal opinion about the case.
If the parties feel comfortable, a client retains the attorney to represent them in the case.
Writing Demand Letters
After a client hires an injury lawyer, they will request their client’s documents. These documents include a client’s medical bills and records. A lawyer will review these documents and begin drafting a demand letter.
The lawyer drafts a persuasive demand letter that’s meant to cause a defendant to want to settle the case. The letter will include facts about the incident, their client’s injuries, and bills. These bills will be for medical treatment, injuries, and future damages.
At the end of the letter, a personal injury attorney will include a demand for payment of money to their client. Upon payment of the settlement funds, your case will be over.
If the plaintiff and defendant cannot settle the case, the attorney will file a lawsuit. To start a lawsuit, the attorney must draft a Complaint. The Complaint is a legal document which is served on the defendant to begin the lawsuit.
The personal injury attorney needs to understand the general facts about the case. They must also allege the proper causes of action for the case. These causes of action are crucial because they are what will guide the rest of the litigation.
A personal injury attorney takes on a case after the injury of a party because of negligence. Some injuries are minor like a strained back or neck muscle. Other injuries are catastrophic. These include serious bodily injury or death.
The nature of these cases means there is often a lot of medical information at issue. This means that a lawyer may need to hire a doctor as an expert witness for the case. Other times the attorney may need to also hire an accident reconstruction expert.
This expert’s findings and testimony can be the difference between winning and losing. This means that the attorney must keep their client aware of what expert they need and who to hire. An experienced personal injury lawyer will be familiar with who may be the best expert for your case.
After service of the Complaint, the parties will begin the discovery process. This is a formal period where the parties learn facts about the dispute. This includes both paper and in-person discovery to learn more about the case.
The attorneys for both sides will prepare written discovery. This includes Request for Admissions and Production. There are also written questions called Interrogatories. Depending on where your lawsuit is, the other side has 30 days to serve responses. The answers can change the course of a case in favor of one party over another.
A lawyer also performs in-person discovery. This includes things like depositions, drafting motions, and arguing at hearings before a trial.
Even though a case doesn’t settle early on in the process when a demand letter is sent to a defendant, that doesn’t mean the case will never resolve. Less than 5% of civil lawsuits end up going to trial to resolve.
This means the overwhelming majority of lawsuits settle at mediation, arbitration, or before a case goes to trial. At a mediation or arbitration, a personal injury lawyer presents the facts of the plaintiff’s case. They will also give their legal theory for why the plaintiff should recover monies.
If a case settles, a personal injury attorney will draft a settlement document and direct the payment of the funds that will be paid to their client.
Taking Cases to Trial
Although 95% of cases resolve short of going to trial, if a client’s case doesn’t settle, a personal injury must be ready to go to trial. Although many cases are tried in front of a jury, there may be an opportunity for it to be presented to a judge only in what is called a bench trial.
Whether a personal injury case is in front of a judge or a jury, personal injury attorneys must prepare to try the case successfully. This means preparing witnesses and evidence to present at the trial. The attorney must also be comfortable with presenting an opening statement, closing argument, and applying the facts of your case to the law.
The Importance of a Personal Injury Lawyer
A personal injury lawyer plays a crucial role in the civil litigation process and in seeking justice on behalf of their client. Based on their legal education, professional experience, and knowledge about the law, a personal injury lawyer is important to have in your corner after an injury.
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