Someone who has been hurt in an accident often has the legal right to be paid compensation for their injuries. To make that happen, they generally must first initiate a civil lawsuit with the help of a personal injury attorney. This type of attorney is one that provides legal representation to those who have been wrongfully injured as a result of either negligent or willful conduct. By and large, those who have quality personal injury representation in the wake of a serious accident stand a far better chance of obtaining compensation than those who do not seek the assistance of legal counsel.
What, specifically, would a personal injury attorney do in the course of representing you as a plaintiff? The following is a brief overview of just some of actions that an experienced personal injury attorney might take:
Evaluate Your Claim
Like most all other personal injury attorneys, yours will likely work on a contingency fee basis. This means they will take an agreed-on percentage of any settlement or court judgment they’re able to win in your favor. Due to the nature of the contingency fee arrangement, an attorney will closely evaluate the merits of your case, including liability issues and damages issues, before agreeing to represent you. This is typically done during a free initial consultation.
Assuming that you and a personal injury lawyer decide to work together, they will want to investigate and gather evidence to support your legal claim. They might, for example, try to obtain a police report, track down and interview any witnesses, and secure medical records that document the severity of your injuries.
The investigation and compilation of evidence is usually followed by an attempt to negotiate with the negligent party’s insurance company. An important part of this aspect of personal injury representation is the sending of a formal demand letter to the insurance company setting forth your legal right to compensation. The demand letter can be a very important tool to make the insurance company understand the nature of the accident and the significant impact it has had on your life.
If a settlement can’t be reached during the negotiation phase, then your lawyer will likely want to file a formal lawsuit to start litigation. They would begin by preparing a pleading called a complaint, which details the facts of the case and the legal claims against the party who injured you. In a personal injury lawsuit, the injured party is known as the plaintiff. The party or company that caused the plaintiff injury is known as the defendant. Once the complaint is prepared, it is then served on the defendant, who must then file a pleading called the answer.
The next step in litigation is called discovery. Both sides will exchange information in a highly structured way that allows them to gain full knowledge of all the issues and facts prior to trial. Discovery can involve depositions, written questions and requests for documents, and subpoenas to third persons or companies. Discovery is also a time for the lawyers to hire experts, who will help the jury understand the claims.
While many personal injury cases do settle either during or soon after the discovery process, others go to trial. In a trial, which can last for several days and sometimes longer, a jury will independently examine the evidence presented by both sides and subsequently determine the defendant’s legal liability. A complete personal injury trial typically involves jury selection, opening statements, witness testimony, witness cross-examination, closing arguments, jury instructions, jury deliberation, and the delivery of a jury verdict. There are also many post-trial events, including potential appeals, that may occur during personal injury representation before you are able to recover compensation. An experienced personal injury lawyer can explain the entire litigation process to you in detail.
Contact Whalen Injury Lawyers Today
We at Whalen Injury Lawyers hope this brief overview of personal injury representation has been informative and, if you’ve been seriously injured, we encourage you to contact our law firm regarding a potential personal injury claim you might have. Our team of experienced lawyers exclusively represents personal injury plaintiffs against insurance companies and corporations. Let us see if we can help you obtain not only quality medical treatment but also financial compensation.