If you’ve been injured due to the negligence of another person, your normal life can get turned upside down. You’re in pain. You’re very likely unable to work. You may be facing months, possibly years, of recovery time and physical rehabilitation.
In a worst-case scenario, you may never totally recover, and will always be impacted by the results of your injury. Under the law, you’re entitled to obtain compensation for the personal and financial damages that were caused by the person who injured you.
If you’ve been considering bringing legal action to obtain that compensation, there are several important facts about personal injury law that you need to know before you file a lawsuit.
Fact #1 – Personal injury law covers a wide variety of situations.
Most people think about personal injury law in terms of car accidents. There’s a reason for that. One of the most common ways that one person negligently injures another is by striking them or their vehicle with a car. However, personal injury law isn’t limited to just car accidents.
Personal injury law covers any situation where one person negligently causes injury to another. So, things like motorcycle and bicycle accidents slip-and-falls, injuries caused by defective products, medical malpractice, and even dog bites are all governed by personal injury law. If you’ve been hurt in any way by someone else’s negligence, chances are that you have a valid personal injury claim.
Fact #2 – Insurance provides the funds for damage awards, but that doesn’t make insurance companies your friend.
In the vast majority of personal injury cases, insurance coverage provides the funds that pay for damages awarded to injured parties. However, that fact does not make the insurance industry an ally of someone who has been injured through the negligence of another.
The primary purpose of an insurance company is to make money, not pay claims against policies that they’ve issued. This means that insurance companies will not always play fairly when it comes to personal injury claims. If they can find a way to undervalue your case, they will do so.
Fact #3 – Competent legal representation matters.
It is common for personal injury victims to be facing tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical bills. They have also lost a significant amount of time at work and may actually be unable to return to the job that they are accustomed to doing. All of this doesn’t even begin to take into account the damage caused in their personal lives due to pain, suffering, and limitations to routine activities caused by their injuries.
An experienced personal injury attorney understands the amount of trauma that these injuries have caused. They also understand the law, so they are able to clearly communicate the value of the damage caused by the injuries to insurance company representatives, judges, and juries. Having a good attorney in your corner is often the difference between obtaining all the compensation to which you’re entitled, or walking away with damages that are inadequate to cover your needs.
Fact #4 – Successful personal injury cases take time.
For someone who has been injured as a result of someone else’s negligence, time is of the essence. They are in pain. Bills are piling up and they are unable to work. They want relief. They want to be able to stop worrying about the future. They want things to be made right again. This state of mind is understandable. However, the process of recovering damages for a personal injury takes time.
A successful personal injury lawsuit is the result of months of careful preparation. Documents need to be gathered that establish the full extent of the injuries in question, as well as their cost. Testimony needs to be taken from the responsible parties, as well as any from witnesses. All of this evidence needs to be marshaled together to form a narrative that will convince an insurance company to settle the case, or a jury to find for the injured party and award sufficient damages.
Fact #5 – Each personal injury case is unique.
Although certain types of personal injury cases may fit into specific categories – car accident, slip-and-fall, etc. – each case is unique. This means that there cannot be a “cookie-cutter” approach to investigating and litigating any lawsuit that involves a personal injury. An experienced personal injury lawyer understands this and approaches each case as one-of-a-kind. A skilled attorney knows to take nothing for granted and to leave nothing to chance. He or she knows that two cases involving very similar circumstances can develop in entirely different ways.
One case can quickly settle, while the other can go all the way to trial. That’s because success not only depends upon the facts of the case, it also depends upon the personality and preconceptions of the individual perceiving those facts. A good attorney knows this and uses the facts, as well as his or her ability to present those facts in a convincing manner in order to achieve a successful result for their client.
Fact #6 – Personal injury attorneys do not require money upfront in order to take your case.
Attorneys in other areas of the law outside of personal injury often require the upfront payment of a portion of their fees before they will represent someone. This is not the case in personal injury law.
Personal injury lawyers often work on what is known as a contingency basis. This means that no up-front payment needs to be made in order for them to take your case. Instead, the payment of their fees is contingent upon their success in representing you. If they are unsuccessful in obtaining a settlement or judgment in your favor then they are not entitled to any fees. However, if they do successfully settle your case or obtain a favorable verdict at trial, they will take a portion of that recovery, generally about 33%, as payment for their efforts on your behalf.