What is personal injury exactly?
Personal injury — this isn’t a stretch here, but it’s generally an injury to your body (your person). It’s not property damage, contract disputes, etc. Those things may be related to a personal injury claim, but specifically we are talking about physical injuries and the damages therefrom. We’re focusing on what happened to you, why it happened or who caused it, and whether that person or thing that caused it owed a duty to you. Simply put, the four factors that make up a successful personal injury case are:
- Duty: Did the person responsible for your injury owe a duty of care to you? (i.e.: in a motor vehicle accident, all drivers owe the public a duty of care to act as a reasonable driver to avoid injury)
- Breach: Did the person breach that duty of care? (i.e.: act negligently)
- Causation: Was the breach the cause of the damage (injury) alleged?
- Damages: Has your injury resulted in damages that can be compensated?
What qualifications should a personal injury lawyer have?
Finding the right personal injury attorney is a task that merits some thought. Why does it matter? Aren’t they pretty much all the same? Well, any attorney practicing in good faith and under the rules of professional conduct owes a fiduciary duty to his or her clients to zealously advocate for their best interests in pursuit of their goals. That’s lawyer-speak for saying that attorneys should fight for their clients. However, how can an attorney fight for your interests if they don’t take the time to listen to your concerns? Personal contact is important, as well as finding someone you feel comfortable with and to whom you can relate.
That being said, you still want someone who knows what they’re doing, right? Finding an attorney with the right combination of experience plus willingness to listen and actually take your concerns into consideration can be a bit of a task, so take your time (provided you’re not racing against the clock to file your claim). A one-call-fits-all approach may, or may not be the right answer for you.
The benefits of working with a PI lawyer
If you’re injured, you may be out of work, and if you were injured in a motor vehicle accident, you may be without transportation. These are real-world issues that may make you think it’s worth just taking that first lowball offer of settlement from the insurance company and moving on. Honestly, maybe that is exactly what’s right for you — perhaps your injuries are minor, haven’t had any impact on your day-to-day life, and you feel confident that you aren’t going to be troubled in the future from this accident.
If, on the other hand, you’re having trouble getting treatment (or getting it paid for), or the insurance company is using delay tactics in paying for your property damage, contesting liability, or is otherwise not doing what they’re supposed to be doing, you may want to consider legal help.
While an attorney cannot guarantee any particular outcome, having an experienced and engaged attorney may lead to a higher settlement amount, but more importantly, it may enable you to get the treatment the doctors suggest that will get you back to being you again. They will also act as the point-person for all contact with the insurance company. While you’re recovering from your injury and/or the subsequent treatments, you won’t have to worry about fielding calls from questionably-motivated insurance adjusters trying to save their company money by getting you to give up.
What to look for in a personal injury attorney
It’s a pile of no fun. Suffering a personal injury and dealing with the medical and financial aftermath is difficult. Worrying about which lawyer to choose is another thing to add to the list. The silver lining is that once you’ve found the right representation, the rest of the trouble should get a little more manageable.
Look for attorneys with experience in injury cases and claims as opposed to firms with a one-size-fits-all practice. Consider whether the attorney will sit down or talk with you about your case before requiring you to sign a contract. If you’d like to schedule a free consultation with Carlisle + Byers, call or click to speak with someone now.