Personal injury is a vast legal topic with myriad types of injuries and just about as many ways of redressing wrongs. It’s a complicated area where people would greatly benefit from hiring an experienced, knowledgeable personal injury attorney. It’s also a stressful realm because it involves injuries and damages of various sorts. An attorney assisting can help reduce the stress, especially if they can help you recoup a reasonable amount of damages and costs.
What Are Personal Injuries?
Before explaining what a personal injury attorney does, it’s good to understand what personal injury is. The phrase “personal injury” is pretty clear about it being an injury to a specific person. But that barely scratches the surface of what can be considered a personal injury case, which can include any of the following that has caused harm to someone’s body:
- Vehicle accidents (auto, truck, motorcycle)
- Other forms of transportation accidents (boats, buses, trains, planes, bikes, and pedestrians)
- Defective products
- Property negligence (unshoveled sidewalks, nonworking smoke detectors, etc.)
- Medical malpractice
- Nursing home abuse
- Animal bites
There are also personal injury cases that involve nonphysical injuries. These are injuries that inflict emotional distress:
- Invasion of privacy
- Deliberate infliction of emotional distress
- Defamation, libel, or slander
- False arrest or detention or malicious prosecution
It’s important to understand that emotional distress can lead to physical symptoms as well, some of which can become debilitating (blood pressure, ulcers, PTSD).
How Does a Personal Injury Lawyer Prepare for a New Case?
Every case is unique with aspects that vary from person to person. An attorney that’s had experience with many personal injury cases will know that and understand how to approach each one. Among the tasks often handled by a personal injury attorney are:
Investigate claims. Personal injury attorneys want to know from the start what happened, because that will best prepare them to negotiate and argue your case. But in some cases, it may also allow them to refuse to take the case if they don’t think it has merit.
Compile and examine evidence. The attorney will want to review any police or other type of official reports related to the incident. If there were eyewitnesses, they will interview them. If there are photos or videos (from security cameras, for example) of the incident happening, they’ll want copies of those to examine. If medical costs and treatments were involved, they’ll want evidence of those to determine how much to negotiate for.
Can a Personal Injury Lawyer Work with an Insurance Company?
Absolutely. This is a very common task for such a lawyer. It’s a specialized skill, almost an art, and takes experience to do well. Having an attorney at this stage is critically important, because in all likelihood, the insurance company has as its highest priority paying out the least amount of money possible. They won’t have your best interests at heart. But your attorney will.
The attorney will examine the insurance policies and negotiate with the insurance company to try and ensure you get the maximum amount of damages. At times, that involves the lawyer sending demand letters to the insurance company, detailing the specifics of the incident and the complaint and laying out the groundwork for why they’re asking for these specific monetary damages.
What Happens if the Negotiations Break Down?
The attorney may then begin preparing to go to trial. That starts with the lawyer crafting a complaint against the defendant, explaining in legal terms why that person is responsible for the incident and, consequently, the damages the lawyer names. Once the complaint is delivered, the defendant has a set period of time (usually 30 days) to respond.
If the case is going to go to trial, the attorney could start the process of discovery. That entails doing an even more thorough investigation into the incident and the evidence around it. It could also involve bringing in experts to give opinions as to the cause of the incident and medical experts to explain the damage the plaintiff suffered, especially if there are long-term ramifications to the injuries.
Once the trial begins, the attorney will represent the client and follow the rules of the court. It’s especially important to have an attorney represent you, because they understand the law and the legal proceedings. If the other side has an attorney, it’s even more critical.
What Should I Do if I’m Involved in an Incident Resulting in Personal Injury?
First of all, the earlier you bring an attorney in, the better. As soon as you’re aware there are injuries of any kind, bring in an experienced attorney.
An important thing you should not do is talk to the other side’s lawyer or insurance company. Their goal is to both make you seem more liable for the incident than you may be, and they will try to interview you in such a way that either underplays the extent of the injury or that could unwittingly cause you to say things that could later be construed as admitting guilt or minimizing the injuries.
Instead, have an attorney who will handle those communications and will help protect you from unintentionally weakening your case. Your attorney has your best interests at heart, and they will work on your behalf for the maximum damages possible.
What Should I Do if I’ve Been Involved in a Personal Injury Matter?
Call me at 617-227-8383 as soon as possible for a free consultation. I have significant understanding and experience in working with personal injury cases. Because these cases usually involve not only other lawyers but insurance companies, having someone representing your best interests is vital. While it’s best if we’re brought in right away, call us at any point after the accident to learn what options we might be able to provide for you.