When a lawyer passes the bar exam, he or she is qualified to practice any area of law they choose. Many, however, choose to concentrate their practices on a particular area. At Harrell & Harrell, P.A., we focus on personal injury law, an area that allows us the privilege of helping our clients put their financial lives back together after they’ve suffered injuries due to someone else’s negligence. Read on to learn more about this area of the law and find out how you can select the personal injury attorney that’s right for your individual needs.
What is personal injury law?
There are two types of legal cases in the U.S.: civil and criminal. The American Bar Association describes the difference: “Civil cases involve conflicts between people or institutions such as businesses” while criminal cases “involve enforcing public codes of behavior as embodied in the laws.” In civil cases, people usually sue to be compensated for a loss or injury; in criminal cases, charges are brought by governments.
Personal injury law is a type of civil law. Personal injury cases may involve car accidents, truck accidents, motorcycle accidents, wrongful death, medical malpractice, and other areas of personal injury practice.
When to consult a personal injury lawyer.
Like cases in other areas of law, personal injury cases can be very complex. Among many other factors, building a case requires:
- Knowledge of liability laws and statutes of limitation
- Conducting an investigation apart from those done by law enforcement or insurance company adjusters
- Clearly defining the act of negligence and identifying all parties that may be at fault
- Calculating a compensation amount that accounts for current costs to an accident victim as well as potential future costs
- Gathering evidence and documentation
- Negotiating with insurance company representatives and/or attorneys
- Working with experts who can testify in court
- Properly filing the paperwork involved in a claim
If you have been injured in an accident due to negligence, a personal injury lawyer can relieve you of the burden of navigating this claim filing process or having to deal with insurance company lawyers. Having an attorney on your side allows you to focus on recovering from your injuries and increasing your chances of recovering compensation for your losses.
The best time to consult a personal injury lawyer is as soon as possible after you’ve been injured. The sooner you call, the sooner critical evidence can be gathered and preserved. It’s also important to hire a lawyer under certain key circumstances, such as:
- When multiple parties are involved
- Before accepting the offer of a settlement from the insurance company
- When your claim is denied
At Harrell & Harrell, P.A., we have attorneys standing by 24/7/365 to take your call. Schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with one of our personal injury lawyers who can help you determine the strength of your case and explain all of the options that are available to you.
How to choose a personal injury attorney.
When your financial well being is at stake, your choice of attorney may be one of the most important decisions you will ever make to secure you and your family’s future. Consider these tips for choosing a personal injury lawyer before you make that decision.
Choose a firm that focuses on personal injury cases.
Firms that concentrate their practices on personal injury law will likely have the comprehensive resources needed to properly prepare your case. These resources include a team of experienced attorneys with a proven record of success in personal injury cases; medical experts who can consult on the details of your case; a professional legal support staff, and more.
Get recommendations and research reviews.
Don’t rely only on advertising to find a personal injury lawyer near you: Ask friends, family, and coworkers if they have had a personal experience with an attorney who handles personal injury accidents. Check online customer reviews and client testimonials, as well as the state bar association’s website, where you can find information on when an attorney was admitted to the bar and view his or her discipline history. The Florida Bar offers a tool for searching for information on an attorney on its online directory.
Schedule a consultation.
An in-person consultation will indicate how you and your case will be treated. You should feel comfortable expressing all of your concerns and have ample time to ask questions. A trustworthy personal injury lawyer will be honest about the strength of your case. During your initial consultation, he or she should not overpromise on specifics such as how quickly your case can be resolved and how much compensation you will receive.
To help you assess whether a particular attorney is right for you, ask these questions:
- How many personal injury cases have you handled?
- How long have you been in practice?
- How many cases have you taken to trial and what were the outcomes?
- How much are your fees?
- How much time will you devote to my case?
- Do you have medical and other experts who will help prepare my case?
- Who would personally handle my case?
- What is the process for handling my case?
- Can I call you with questions during my case?
- Do you offer free initial consultations?
Personal injury FAQ
These are some of the most common questions we hear from prospective clients:
Q: What does “negligence” mean?
A: In the legal sense, negligence is a “failure to exercise the care toward others which a reasonable or prudent person would do in the circumstances, or taking action which such a reasonable person would not.” Examples of negligence include reckless driving, medical mistakes resulting in injury by medical professionals who fail to provide adequate treatment, injuries sustained on the property of someone who did not meet his or her responsibility to make their premises safe, and more. In a personal injury case, the victim must prove that the allegedly negligent party had a duty to the injured party or the general public.
Q: How can I know if I have a case?
A: There is no single set of criteria an individual can use to make this determination on his or her own, and no two cases are alike. The best way to determine if you have a case is to consult with a personal injury attorney. He or she should have the experience and expertise to gather the pertinent facts of your case and counsel you on the relative strength of your personal injury accident case.
Q: How long will it take to resolve my case?
A: The answer depends upon the particulars of your case, including the type and severity of your injury, how many parties may be involved, the types of damages being sought, whether a settlement can be reached before going to court, and much more.
Q: How much compensation can I receive for my injuries?
A: Each case is different, so a prediction cannot be made without examining the facts of your case. We do, however, offer a wide sample of verdicts and settlements that the attorneys at Harrell & Harrell, P.A., have resolved on behalf of our clients.
Q: What kind of damages can a personal injury victim recover?
A: A personal injury victim’s life can be affected in many ways, so there are several types of economic and non-economic damages that may be recoverable. These include the costs of medical care, lost wages, effects on your and your spouse’s mental and emotional well being, and even potential losses in the future, such as additional medical costs or a diminished earning capacity.
Q: What if I’m not ready to file a claim?
A: We urge our prospective clients to take prompt action if they or a loved one has been injured in an accident. The main reasons are that evidence may be lost or unavailable over time, witnesses’ memories may not be as clear weeks or months later, and there are statutes of limitations that restrict the amount of time victims have to file a claim. Please don’t hesitate to contact us—we offer absolutely free consultations with no risk or obligation.
Checklist: What to bring to your initial consultation.
The more information your personal injury accident attorney has at your initial consultation, the better he or she will be able to determine your options. Bring the information and documentation listed below, if it applies to you:
- Names and contact information for witnesses
- Name of the law enforcement officer who wrote the accident report
- A copy of the accident report
- Photos or video of injuries, damage to vehicles, or other property damage
- License plate numbers of all vehicles involved
- Medical reports
- Medical bills
- Information on your insurance company and the insurance company of other parties involved
- Bills or receipts for repairs or replacement of vehicles or other property
- Paycheck stubs and/or W2 forms to prove lost wages or potential future earnings
Schedule your free consultation.
We’re available to speak with you now at 904-251-1111 or 800-251-1111. You can also contact us online or complete the form at the top of the page.