A personal injury can cause you all sorts of problems, from lost wages to permanent disability to a complete, involuntary change of lifestyle. There’s nothing worse than dealing with the aftermath of such an injury while realizing that you may not have enough money to live – let alone pay the huge medical bills that are likely to result. If your injury came about due to the negligence of another person, you may be eligible for compensation. Proving your eligibility, however, can be a full-time job in itself, especially if you’re not a legal expert. That’s why it’s always a good idea to have a personal injury lawyer in your corner.
While modern culture tends to denigrate this particular type of lawyer – those awful infomercials probably aren’t doing their profession any favors, either – a personal injury lawyer is your only bulwark against being taken advantage of by other parties such as insurance companies who undoubtedly has legal representation of their own. The bottom line is that in most cases, the compensation you could earn is simply too important for you to try to wing it – unless you happen to be an expert in personal injury law. It can take some time to find the right legal representative for you and your case, but a little shopping around on your part could yield significant results down the road. Here’s a snapshot of situations in which you may want to retain a personal injury lawyer.
Common Types of Personal Injury Cases:
∙ Workplace accidents
∙ Dog bite and animal attack injuries
∙ Car & truck accidents
Company vehicle accidents & injuries
∙ Slip and fall injury
∙ Construction site accidents
Other Personal Injury Cases:
∙ Burn Injury
Asbestos & Mesothelioma exposure
∙ Nursing home abuse
∙ Oil field injuries
∙ Wrongful death
Reasons to Hire an Experienced, Specialized Personal Injury Attorney
If you sustained injuries in one or another kind of accident, and you’re a novice when it comes to personal injury law, it may be time to hire a personal injury attorney. It’s better to be safe than sorry! Here’s why:
∙ No Risk involved
Usually a personal injury attorney will be paid when your claim is successful. Before signing with a particular lawyer, determine whether he/she is willing to render services on the basis of a contingency fee.
∙ Outside Perspective
You can’t view your own case with impartiality. You’re only human, and it can be difficult to see your case dispassionately for a while after you’ve been hurt. A legal representative will not be affected by such emotions and will provide you with their objective opinion regarding your case.
Without being an attorney, you just don’t have the type of experience intrinsic to a personal injury attorney. You may feel tempted to represent your own injury case just to save some money. However, this method is very rarely efficient. You’ll no doubt be conducting hours upon hours of research, and when it comes to submitting documents to the court, there’s little room for error. Hiring an experienced legal professional may improve the odds of your claim being successful.
∙ Supporting personnel
In general, lawyers work together with a team of personnel who do a lot of the tedious, time-consuming work: research, interviews, etc. If you want your case to succeed, a lawyer supported by a talented team dedicated to fighting for you can be a great asset.
∙ Trial Know-How
It’s possible your personal injury case could go all the way to court. If this should occur, a laymen’s view of the law isn’t going to cut it.
∙ Experience With Common Opposition Tactics
Insurance adjusters and opposing lawyers have many tricks up their sleeves they can use to bog down the process. Your lawyer is going to be familiar with many of them and will be able to tell you how to counter each.
∙ Settlement Negotiation
Many personal injury victims who represent themselves get less than half the maximum available compensation. The other party may throw out a number that sounds great to you but is actually far short of what you could lawfully receive. Your lawyer will be there to advise you whether that seemingly juicy offer is worth accepting or whether you likely can do better.
∙ Handling Insurance Companies
Insurance adjusters are there to minimize the amount paid by the company toward your claim. They literally live for negotiation. Unless you really feel you’re a master, it will behoove you to let a lawyer handle this complex battle.
In the aftermath of an injury, it can feel like the world is closing in on you. Your recovery may be uncertain, and on top of that you’re worrying about how this will affect your family, your work, and a million other things. Getting a personal injury attorney in your corner is a great way to ease your mind and allow you to take things day by day.
What To Do When You’ve Been Hurt and Need a Personal Injury Attorney
∙ Seek Medical Attention
It is crucial that you consult a healthcare professional as soon as you can after the injury. Consultations with your doctor give additional weight to your personal injury claim. It can be detrimental to wait until your injury worsens.
∙ Keep all Photos, Records & Notes
It is of the utmost importance to keep all the injury-related documentation, medical treatment prescriptions, notes, details of people involved as well as all photos taken. This is helpful to not only verify the validity of the medical treatment administered but to enable you to request appropriate financial compensation.
Keep a record of the details of physical therapists, doctors, psychologists and everyone who was involved in the incident. Retain the receipts of rented or purchased devices like crutches, wheelchairs, prescribed medication and all instruments used to assist you.
Include notes written, emails and discussions with other individuals, even telephonic. Save detailed information of all witnesses at the scene of the accident or incident. This will make it easier for your attorney to contact them at a later stage.
Acquiring the services of the Personal Injury Attorney
Okay, so you’re out of immediate danger and you can finally start to think about what happened and how to go about collecting the compensation due you. Now it’s time to start the search for a worthy personal injury lawyer.
Here are a few things to keep in mind:
- Check Prior Performance: Just like any service you hire, you want to be sure that your personal injury lawyer is, well, good. How often do clients of theirs receive the maximum available settlement amount? Do they have a large number of complaints filed against them with the state bar association?
- Go Local: Do they have a location near you? You’re going to want to sit down with them face to face, so this will make things easier for all concerned. Most attorneys will come to you if your condition warrants it.
- Don’t Break The Bank: Personal injury law firms realize that especially in your current situation, you don’t have a lot of money at your disposal. Almost all offer a free initial consultation as well as some sort of delayed payment plan. Make sure that employing a given firm isn’t going to cause you substantial financial hardship.
- Don’t Shop For a Case: If you’ve found a few good law firms, but when you lay out the facts they tell you that they don’t think you have a case, listen to them. Avoid the temptation to keep shopping until you find someone who tells you what you want to hear. This can be tough when you realize that you may have a whole lot of bills coming your way with no way to pay them; however, settling for a less-qualified lawyer simply because they tell you that they think they can get you money is almost always a bad idea that could cause you many more headaches in the future with nothing to show for them.
Depending on the nature of the case and just how much the insurance company wants to drag their feet, personal injury cases can take a long time to complete. It’s imperative that you start your case as soon as possible – not only because it’s likely to take a while but because you don’t want the statute of limitations to expire before you file. Deadlines vary by state; the average is two years, with some as short as one year and others as long as 10 years.
Once your case gets going, your lawyer will be able to give you a better idea of how long it will take for you to actually see some money. Defendants have come up with many creative ways to bog down cases further, but again, a good lawyer will be able to recognize and hopefully thwart these attempts.
Ketterman Rowland &Westlund is a law firm that meets our criteria for quality personal injury lawyers. Located in San Antonio, Texas, they specialize in all things personal injury as well as property damage and asbestos. They offer a free professional consultation to determine whether they believe your circumstances constitute a viable personal injury case. Learn more about these highly qualified San Antonio personal injury lawyers and whether they can help you recover compensation in your case.