Most of our clients have never worked with a personal injury lawyer before when they come to us for help, and few know what to expect. If you’ve been injured in an accident and are just starting your search for an accident lawyer, the following information can be helpful in making your choice.
What is Personal Injury Law?
Personal injury law, which is also known as tort law, allows a person who has been injured to file a lawsuit and obtain financial compensation for all losses related to his or her injuries. In fact, in Florida, a party may receive such financial compensation even if he or she is partially to blame for the accident that caused the injuries. The reason for this is that Florida operates under a pure comparative negligence system. Under this system, a partially responsible party’s compensation is reduced in proportion to the percentage of his or her blame. If you’ve been injured in an accident in Florida, you should strongly consider filing a personal injury lawsuit—even if you believe you are partially to blame for the accident.
If you do decide to file a personal injury lawsuit, it is highly recommended that you hire a personal injury lawyer to assist you. The reason for this is simple: plaintiffs who are represented by counsel fare much better overall in personal injury lawsuits than those who attempt to represent themselves. Read on as we explain what to expect when working with an injury lawyer.
Before you begin working with a personal injury attorney, you’ll first schedule an initial consultation to discuss your case. These initial meetings are two-fold, they give you an opportunity to learn about a prospective attorney, and it gives the attorney a chance to conduct a preliminary assessment of your case. Here are some questions to consider asking as you meet with prospective attorneys:
How long have you been practicing law? In most cases, the longer an injury lawyer has been practicing, the more experience and knowledge they have under their belt.
What kind of experience do you have with personal injury cases? Not only should the attorney you choose have several years of legal practice under his or her belt, but he or she should be highly experienced in the area of personal injury law.
What percentage of your practice is dedicated to personal injury cases? If a prospective attorney dedicates a large percentage of his or her practice to personal injury cases, this is a good sign. Some law firms with a wide range of practice areas that include personal injury may not focus on this area of law.
How strong is my case? After hearing the basic facts of your case, experienced personal injury attorneys should be able to tell you whether you have a case and how strong it is. They may also be able to outline their strategy for reaching the best outcome.
What percentage of your cases settle? Most personal injury cases settle before having to go to trial. However, you should still determine whether a prospective attorney has the resources and experience to take your case to trial if necessary.
Will you actually handle my case, or will it be assigned to a junior attorney? Often, the attorney a person meets with during an initial consultation isn’t the same attorney who will handle his or her case. Although this is common and should not be considered a red flag, you should ask at the outset who will be handling your case.
What is your billing structure? Finally, be sure you understand an attorney’s billing structure before hiring him or her to represent you in your personal injury case. Many personal injury attorneys work on a contingency basis, meaning that you pay nothing unless your case is successful.
Stages of the Personal Injury Process
Although every case is different, most personal injury cases follow a similar path. Here’s what to expect from your personal injury attorney during each stage of the personal injury process:
After you hire an attorney, the first thing he or she will do is gather as much information as possible about your case. This process includes collecting various types of documentation, including
- Medical bills
- Police reports
- Security camera footage
- Witness statements
- Government reports
After conducting an investigation and gathering documentation, your attorney will likely make a demand to the insurer of the responsible party. If this demand results in a settlement offer, your personal injury lawyer will review it with you and determine whether it is satisfactory. In most cases, an initial settlement offer isn’t the final offer. Therefore, unless the initial offer is adequate, your attorney will continue to negotiate in an attempt to obtain fair compensation for your injuries. If the other party is unwilling to make a fair settlement offer, your attorney will file a personal injury lawsuit.
In order to initiate your personal injury lawsuit, your attorney will file a complaint with the court. A complaint is a legal document that lists legal arguments, facts in support of those arguments, and a demand for relief. After your attorney files the complaint and serves it on the defendant, the defendant will file a response.
Next, your accident attorney will conduct discovery, which is the stage of litigation where each side exchanges information that is relevant to the case. In most personal injury cases, discovery consists of depositions, interrogatories, and requests for documents. Many cases settle during the discovery stage of litigation.
If your case fails to settle during discovery, the court will set a trial date. If you reach this point, your attorney will handle all aspects of the litigation process and keep you updated on your case’s progress.
Whether you win at trial or your case settles, your injury lawyer will take the steps necessary to collect the money you are owed. This may consist of contacting the defendant’s insurance company and arranging for a check to be sent to your attorney’s office. It may also involve filing post-trial motions with the court to collect the judgment. Either way, your accident lawyer will do everything necessary to ensure that you are compensated for your losses.
Contact an Accident Lawyer Today
If you’ve been hurt in an accident, you need an experienced personal injury lawyer on your side. At Harrell & Harrell, P.A., personal injury law is our firm’s only focus. For more than 40 years, we’ve helped accident victims get their financial futures back on track. Our attorneys understand the physical and financial difficulties accident victims face. When you come to us for help, we’ll do everything in our power to ensure that you obtain just compensation for your injuries. Please contact us today for a free, no-obligation personal injury consultation.