Choosing the right personal injury lawyer always takes understanding this type of law, how the civil litigation system works, and the differing attorney fee structures. Therefore, it pays to research potential attorneys and law firms and assesses which ones best suit your needs. While it’s important to differentiate between lawyers that are right for your case, it’s also key to understand the common characteristics that make a formidable litigator.
Finding a lawyer and firm with a reputation for professionalism, tenacious litigation, and success in court provides many advantages. Firstly, you want an attorney who works well with clients, negotiates with other attorneys and presents your case and arguments in court with skill. In addition, you need a lawyer who focuses on personal injury law.
Each type of law has its processes, strategies, tactics, terminology, precedents, and statutes of limitations. For example, an experienced personal injury lawyer knows the relevant law in minute detail and what past rulings drive court decisions. They also know the court system where your case is heard, including how different judges tend to rule and how to maneuver a case through the legal pipeline for their client’s benefit.
The right personal injury lawyer is also a seasoned-, smart-, and tough negotiator. Most personal injury cases end in a fair settlement. A professional legal negotiator can only attain the best result for the client through an agreement with an insurance company. Insurers invest mountainous resources in defending against claims. It’s an essential part of their business.
A seasoned personal injury lawyer knows the process for negotiating successfully with insurers. They understand the tactics they use and how to counter them. In addition, a strong personal injury lawyer has a detailed understanding of your case and the weak points in the defense. These prove invaluable in establishing negotiating leverage.
Part of winning through negotiation in personal injury law rests on ability and reputation as a litigator. Insurance companies know they are better off settling for a higher amount when against a well-known “shark” with a powerful case. Also, negotiations progress as the case wends its way through the civil lawsuit process. Your attorney’s skill in establishing your case and conducting interrogatories and depositions makes a vast difference in the value of your claim.
Finally, only some cases settle. For example, yours might be in the minority that goes to trial. For this reason, you need an orange county personal injury attorney prepared to see your case through a jury trial and appeal. Insurers never give a high settlement without a fight. The right personal injury lawyer takes on the insurance company and fights until the battle is won. If you want to know how your settlements are paid out, visit: How are personal injury settlements paid out?
What Does A Personal Injury Lawyer Do?
Personal injury lawyers have a mission: Obtain the best outcome for their clients. To achieve this objective, they must be proficient in handling all aspects of personal injury litigation. Winning in court starts with building a case.
Investigating A Claim & Gathering Evidence
This process starts with the client’s initial consultation. During this meeting, your personal injury lawyer listens to your account of the incident, asks key questions, and reviews any documentation you bring. With this information, the attorney understands the basics of your case and the goals to be achieved in litigation.
In many cases, your personal injury attorney must gather additional evidence to bolster your claim and increase your negotiating leverage. In addition, they obtain and review documents, such as police reports, medical records, and accident reconstructions. Witness interviews are essential in investigating a case and gathering evidence.
As most personal injury claims cases settle out of court, this part of the attorney’s job is often the most important. The investigation and evidence gathering is preparation for favorable settlement negotiations. Without a clear case backed by evidence, an insurance company may decline a claim or dispute the damages. Instead, they must revise their position and offer a reasonable sum when confronted with solid evidence.
Negotiations may begin before a lawsuit is filed. For instance, the defending insurance company may have offered a settlement that inadequately compensates the victim and the accuser’s lawyer’s offerings before filing a lawsuit.
Also, clients may have filed a claim with their insurer after an accident with an uninsured or underinsured at-fault driver. A poor offer from the insurance company may result in the lawyer sending a demand letter requiring more and filing a lawsuit if a reasonable settlement is refused.
Filing A Lawsuit
In many cases, filing a lawsuit is necessary to obtain a worthwhile settlement. Your attorney prepares a complaint detailing the accident, the defendant’s guilt, and what laws apply to the case. The law firm serves the lawsuit on the defendant, insurer, or legal representatives. A court date is scheduled, with timing depending on the jurisdiction.
Negotiations may begin or resume before going to court. This tends to happen when the facts and damages are relatively clear, making it sensible for both sides to try to settle without additional time and expense. However, many cases must proceed further into the process.
Personal injury attorneys handle the discovery process. During this time, they obtain access to the evidence the other side plans to introduce. This gives the plaintiff and defense counsel a chance to assess the strength and weaknesses of their case in more detail.
Personal injury lawyers also interview the opposing side’s witnesses through written questions and depositions. These interviews further solidify legal positions and often spark a new round of settlement negotiations. Many cases settle before the discovery process is complete.
Judges often order settlement conferences as cases near trial. Personal injury attorneys represent their clients at settlement conferences. Judges mainly run these meetings and seek to broker a settlement. Settlement conferences often lead to excellent plaintiff results.
Some cases need to go before a jury. Jury trials are usually high-dollar cases where the defense insists on the lowest settlement, and facts in the case remain disputed. In addition, personal injury lawyers argue their client’s case before the jury and persuade members of the defendant’s guilt.
Also, convincing the panel of your damages is a crucial objective.
Your personal injury lawyer may win before a jury, but that does not conclude the case. The defense can appeal the jury’s award, claiming that the trial court erred in how it conducted the proceedings. In addition, personal injury lawyers handle the detailed legal work of appeals to win affirmation of their client’s awards.
When Do You Need A Personal Injury Lawyer?
Consulting a personal injury attorney is wise if you have suffered a severe injury. For instance, another party may have liability if your injuries resulted from any of the following:
- Car accident
- Motorcycle accident
- Truck accident
- Slip and fall on public or private property
- Dog bite
- Other animal attacks
- An assault of any type
- Hit by falling objects
- The fatal accident of a family member
- Injuries occurring at recreational facilities
- Any injuries occurring while patronizing a business
- Accident of any type caused by another’s negligence, recklessness, or intentional action
How To Find The Right Personal Injury Lawyer?
Finding the right personal injury lawyer requires research into attorneys practicing in your area. To compile a list of suitable options, consider the following:
History of Taking Cases To Trial
Lawyers and firms that have brought cases to trial bring invaluable experience to your case. They understand how to win and keep their clients from the pitfalls that can hurt their cases. Some cases have clear fact patterns, while others are full of disputes. For example, if the defendant denies liability in your case based on a false theory of the incident, a jury may need to decide the case.
Lawyers with a reputation for winning at trial also present more formidable competition for insurance lawyers in settlement negotiations. Of course, having a strong trial lawyer on your side always helps in negotiations.
Past Client Experience
Many law firms include testimonials in their marketing materials. In addition, many are happy to provide references. Hearing from past clients gives you a window into what to expect.
Research Their Success Rate
The success of the right personal injury lawyer in negotiating settlements and winning in court should be high. A strong track record is always a key indicator.
Make Sure The Lawyer Practices Law In Your State
Some lawyers practice in multiple states. In addition to being licensed in your state, you want a lawyer with experience working in the jurisdiction where your case is filed.
Consider The Types of Cases The Lawyer/Law Firm Handles
Some lawyers and firms practice personal injury law exclusively, while others work in multiple areas. Either can be an excellent choice, provided your lawyer and firm have experience with your type of case.
Choose The Best Among The Most Experienced Lawyer
You should have a strong set of data from which to choose from your research. Highly successful, experienced, and reputable lawyers increase your chances of success.
Discuss The Fee Structure
Most personal injury attorneys work on contingency. This fee structure requires no upfront payment or out-of-pocket expenses. Rates vary. You want a reasonable contingency fee agreement but be wary if the percentage is much lower than other lawyers. That may mean the attorney will put less effort into your case.
Read more on how much does a personal injury lawyer cost?
Schedule A Consultation
Personal injury law firms and lawyers offer free consultations. They make money on contingency, so they must review cases to build a thriving practice. An attorney’s assessment of your case will help you decide how to proceed with your claim.
Selecting the right personal injury lawyer is an important decision. You want someone experienced, reputable, and professional. Shopping on price is usually a mistake. Strong personal injury attorneys won’t offer a cut rate. But they earn their fees by building strong cases, negotiating professionally, and winning in court.