What is a Personal Injury Lawyer?

A personal injury lawyer is just like other types of lawyers who advises, represents and advocates on behalf on their clients. What makes this type of lawyer different from a criminal or entertainment lawyer is the area of law he or she specializes.

Tort Law

Tort law includes civil or private injuries or wrongs such as breach of contract, automobile accidents, dog bites, or defamation. Tort law has two goals:

  • To make the injured party “whole” again.
  • To discourage other people from doing the same offense.

Under tort law, a personal injury lawyer can represent a plaintiff or defendant in a personal injury case. If the personal injury lawyer represent a plaintiff, he or she is fighting for compensation such as:

  • Past reasonable medical expenses.
  • Future medical expenses.
  • Emotional distress.
  • Legal costs.
  • Loss of earning capacity.
  • Attorney fees.
  • Pain and suffering.
  • Loss of companionship or consortium.
  • Receiving a fair settlement from defendant or insurance companies.

Personal Injury Lawyer’s Duties

Personal injury lawyers often handle more than one case at a time. Regardless of the number of cases, he or she has, the duties are still the same. He or she:

  • Investigates claims.
  • Talk with potential clients.
  • Accept or decline to represent clients based on evaluating the merits of a case.
  • Gather evidence.
  • Build a case based on a legal theory.
  • Research a particular case law.
  • Writes a letter to opposing parties to inform them about the intent to sue.
  • Draft and file any lawsuits.
  • Conduct discovery. This is where a lawyer exchanges information with opposing counsel. The purpose is to gather additional evidence. It also includes deposing and interviewing witnesses and parties to the case.
  • Draft and file any motions and pleadings.
  • Prepare for trial.
  • Present evidence at trial.
  • Counsel clients.
  • Negotiate settlements.

Typically, a personal injury lawyer completes all these tasks on a contingency basis. This means they work for free until the case is resolved. If the lawyer wins the case, he or she receives a payment. The payment could be anywhere from 20 to 40 percent of the award. A “win” can be a jury verdict or a negotiated settlement. However, if a personal injury lawyer doesn’t win or settle the case, he or she doesn’t receive any money.

Cases that Require a Personal Injury Lawyer

Some cases that are considered simple may not require the assistance of a personal injury lawyer. However, there are many situations where having a lawyer is vital to a client’s case. These cases include, but aren’t limited to:

  • Medical malpractice.
  • An insurance company that refuses to pay a client.
  • Premise liability cases.
  • Wrongful death lawsuits.
  • Libel, defamation and slander lawsuits.
  • Product liability cases.
  • Cases involving permanent injuries and emotional distress.

In many situations, what begins as a simple personal injury case can become very complex. However, a personal injury lawyer’s job is to represent his or her client and find the best way to resolve the legal dispute.

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