When Should I Hire a Personal Injury Lawyer?
Brian White | March 30, 2020 | Personal Injury
You have been injured in a car wreck. You had to take time off of work and you have mounting medical bills. Should you hire a personal injury lawyer? What if you fall in a store and injured your back? Are there steps you should take next to help compensate you and pay for your mounting medical bills?
It can be difficult to know if and when you should seek a personal injury lawyer. It may be easier to know the answer for obvious damage like severe injuries after a vehicle collision. However, small accidents may make it harder to know if you have a case and if you are entitled to payment from the person or company who caused your injury.
What Is A Personal Injury Lawyer?
The main purpose of a personal injury lawyer is to help a client receive compensation for an injury. They can specialize in one type of personal injury like medical malpractice. They can also focus on several different types of injury cases including car accidents, wrongful death, workplace accidents, slip and falls, and product liability.
Basics of Personal Injury Law
Personal injury law is a part of civil law. That means that it is not a criminal trial. No defendant will be facing possible jail times and no government prosecutors are involved. Instead, there was some sort of accident and someone got injured. They are the plaintiff in the case and they sue a defendant whom they believe is responsible for their injury. The result of the lawsuit is to hopefully be compensated financially for any bills, lost wages, or other damages assigned by the court.
Most personal injury cases revolve around the legal concept of negligence. There are four main elements of a negligence claim that must be proven to be able to receive compensation. These elements are:
1) There was a duty. This means that the defendant owed the plaintiff some standard of care. In most cases, this is a reasonable amount of care that someone else in the same situation would give.
2) There was a breach of that duty. The defendant had a duty of care and they did not act according to that duty. Again, the standard is usually a reasonable person in the same situation. If that reasonable person would have acted differently, there is more than likely a breach of duty.
3) Causation. There must be evidence that the breach of duty caused the defendant’s injuries. Someone can breach their duty without being responsible for an accident. In court, it must be shown that the plaintiff caused, or should have known that his actions could cause, the injury.
4) There must be actual damages. These are physical effects of the accident and injury. For example, if you did not suffer a serious injury you may not have any damages even if you can prove 1, 2, and 3 above. What would you need compensation for if you walked away from a minor wreck with only a scratch and your car does not have any noticeable damage?
When to Hire A Personal Injury Lawyer
Another factor of personal injury law is that no one has a right to counsel. If you are a defendant in a criminal law, you will be assigned an attorney if you cannot afford one. In civil law, that is not the case. You will need to interview and select a lawyer. You will also need to hire and pay them, usually regardless of the outcome.
There are two sides to seeking a personal injury lawyer. The first is if you were injured in an accident. An attorney can go over the facts of the case with you and decide if there is enough evidence to establish negligence. If there is, they will be able to walk through the process with you and represent you in a possible future case.
The other side is if you were in an accident that you caused. This means that you may need a defense attorney if you are sued by someone else for their injuries. You do not have to wait to be sued to seek an attorney. You can discuss any possible cases with an attorney and they may be able to help you minimize your chances of being sued.
Finally, even if there is no lawsuit, it may be helpful to seek the advice of an attorney to help you negotiate with your insurance. Insurance companies do not want to pay you a lot of money. They have teams of lawyers working to make the lowest payouts. Having representation can help you have an advocate on your side who helps you get the financial assistance you need after the accident.