A personal injury attorney, also known as a trial attorney, focuses his or her practice on helping clients injured because of the negligent or reckless conduct of others. These litigators investigate injury claims and determine the parties responsible for their clients’ injuries. A personal injury attorney is paid a percentage of the final settlement or verdict.Insurance companies like to deal with injured people not represented by an attorney. Since most people only deal with a personal injury claim once or twice in their lifetimes, insurance adjusters possess a lot of leverage against these victims. Insurance adjusters will typically make an offer to make a case go away, but an unrepresented claimant will never get a top dollar offer from the adjuster.Checkout Trial Attorney in West Palm Beach for more info.
How a Personal lnjury Attorney Can Help You
Claimants might wonder what a personal injury attorney can do to strengthen their bargaining position. Although each case is different, a trial attorney will typically take the following actions when accepting a new client.
1. Investigate the Facts
A personal injury attorney has tools and resources unknown to the general public. The lawyer may hire an investigator to track down witnesses or obtain asset checks on the defendants. An attorney can easily obtain a copy of the police report and will feel comfortable speaking with the investigating officer about any liability issues. An experienced trial attorney will immediately focus on available insurance and will send a letter to the negligent party or the insurer for the negligent party to verify insurance coverage.
2. Determine the Client’s Injuries
Most clients may not even truly understand their injuries. They will understand the pain and suffering. They will understand how their injuries affect their ability to work or just perform activities of daily living. However, they may not understand what treatment is needed to alleviate the pain. An experienced personal injury attorney will speak with the client’s medical providers to determine how long the client may need to treat and when the client’s injuries will fully heal.
3. Attempt to Settle the Claim
Litigation is expensive. Even filing a lawsuit requires a court filing fee and a fee to serve the opposing party with the civil complaint. An experienced trial attorney seeking to save his client time and money will make a good faith effort to settle her client’s claim without a lawsuit. Typically the lawyer will send a demand letter outlining the liability issues and the client’s injuries, making a demand for a specific amount of money. The insurance company will respond after reviewing the materials and make an offer. Back and forth negotiations can take weeks, months or even years, depending on the applicable statute of limitations.
4. File Suit
If a case cannot be resolved, the trial attorney will file a lawsuit on behalf of his client. The complaint will outline the various claims and describe the injuries sustained in the accident. The claimant is now called the plaintiff, and the party accused of negligently or recklessly injuring the plaintiff is called the defendant.
Rules of civil procedure vary between the federal rules and the rules of different states, but typically the attorneys involved in a civil lawsuit will draft written questions called interrogatories and requests for production of documents. Each side will answer the opposing side’s interrogatories and requests, and then the attorneys typically schedule depositions. During depositions, the parties are questioned under oath about their claims, injuries and defenses.
Most civil cases are settled during the litigation process. Only two percent of federal cases ultimately go to trial. Some cases are settled with a series of phone calls, emails or letters, but a large percentage of cases are settled at mediation. Mediation is a formal settlement conference involving a neutral third person, called a mediator, who brings the sides together and tries to help them resolve the case.
7. Prepare for Trial
Although few cases go to trial, a competent personal injury attorney will anticipate the possibility from the start of the case. By fully investigating the accident, understanding the client’s injuries, and thoroughly using the discovery process to obtain information from the opposing side, the attorney will be ready to protect his client’s rights at trial.