When searching for the right personal injury attorney for your needs, knowing how the lawsuit process starts is helpful.
Personal injury lawsuits start when the injured party, also known as the plaintiff, files a complaint (also called a petition) with the court. A complaint is a technical legal document explaining the relevant facts and the specific laws that the defendant allegedly violated.
The complaint also documents what the plaintiff wants the court to do, such as award damages or give an order instructing the defendant to do something or stop doing something. An attorney should always write this complaint.
After your lawyer files the complaint, the defendant will have an option to respond to the allegations in a document known as the answer. If the defendant has a personal claim against the plaintiff, they might also file a complaint, commonly referred to as a counterclaim. At this early phase in the lawsuit, you might add any applicable third parties to the litigation.
Both sides will ask for evidence and witness information in the pre-trial litigation process. The other party must share any applicable information they have. This part of the procedure is called discovery. Both parties will appear in court during these early phases to update the judge on how they will manage the case. Also, the conflicting parties can both agree to mediation or arbitration after which they set a trial date.
Once the case seems to be moving closer to the actual trial, the disputing parties will start to:
- Engage in required settlement conferences;
- Make motions to confirm what evidence will be allowed at trial; and
- Select a jury.
What Do Personal Injury Attorneys Do?
The right personal injury attorney for your needs can provide representation for either the victim or the defendant.
They provide representation for many diverse types of cases, including but not limited to:
- Auto accidents;
- Boating accidents;
- Injuries at work;
- Oil and gas accidents; and
- Defective product injuries.
Further, the attorneys for each party will explore the facts of each particular case and what law will best apply to the lawsuit. This is called the discovery process.
Should I Interview My Personal Injury Attorney?
Yes. Before you enlist the help of a personal injury lawyer, you must learn basic information about them. This can be done in a casual interview over the phone and through email before agreeing to hire them.
It is wise not to hesitate to conduct a thorough interview with the lawyer since you will be working closely with them. The result of your injury claim will depend on having a steadfast and effective client-attorney relationship before any litigation starts.
Personal Injury Checklist
If you have suffered a serious personal injury, there can be a lot of information you will need to keep an eye on. You might wish to make a personal injury checklist containing important data and documents that your lawyer might use when starting a lawsuit or legal claim.
For instance, you might want to include on your list:
- Contact details of the party that caused your injury or injuries
- Contact details of any other people involved in the accident
- Time, location, and circumstances surrounding the accident
- Names and contact info for any witnesses or people you talked to directly after the accident
- Name, address, and contact number of the emergency room or hospital you went to after the injury
- Contact info of all the physicians who saw or treated you
- Statements from the opposing party and critical witnesses
- Medical coverage policies
- Medical bills, medication receipts, bills from visits to the chiropractor, etc.
- Insurance policy statements
- Other important policies, such as medical coverage, work benefits, and veteran’s insurance
- All correspondences/letters from the other side, witnesses, and third-party operators such as insurance companies or government agencies
- Receipts for expenses related to the injury, particularly for damaged property
- Pay stubs (if you have lost wages due to the accident)
- A list of all questions you may have when interviewing your injury attorney
- Any photos or video footage of the accident and the incident scene directly following the event.
How Can a Personal Injury Lawyer Help You?
Personal injury attorneys handle automobile accidents, dangerous property or buildings, defective products, and medical malpractice cases. Whether you’ve suffered a slip and fall accident, a dog attacked you, or a negligent scooter driver injured you, the best personal injury attorneys can help you with your case and the compensation you deserve.
If someone injured you, contact an attorney today and start the legal process of acquiring payment for injuries you have suffered.
Automobile accidents constitute many personal injury lawsuits in the U.S. With over 276 million registered autos in the U.S., it is no wonder that accidents are commonplace. Factor in other problems, such as cell phone usage, drinking and driving, weather conditions, young or inexperienced drivers, and speeding, and the chance of being involved in a car accident is relatively high.
A person may experience three or four accidents throughout a typical lifespan. Per the National Safety Council, the chances of perishing in a motor vehicle crash are one in 102. Personal injury attorneys who handle car accident claims will fight to help their clients recoup the money, also known as damages, for injuries sustained in an accident.
Hire a truck accident lawyer for claims stemming from commercial vehicle crashes. Never wait to seek help, as a truck accident case begins quickly. Investigators from the trucking company will be working to avoid liability, so you want an advocate gathering evidence in your favor. Always make sure your lawyer has the experience and resources necessary to take on trucking companies and their insurers.
Dangerous Property or Buildings
Unsafe property or buildings and defective premises create a danger for the public, creating many lawsuits. Property owners must use reasonable care to stop others from being hurt. If they disregard this duty and hurt someone due to their negligence, the injured party can sue for damages.
A business premise or public building can be a threat for many reasons. For instance, if a building owner knows that one of the handrails on a flight of stairs is dangerous and fails to fix it, they may be held responsible if someone is hurt. Another example of an injury resulting from negligence is slip and fall accidents resulting from trash on the floor, such as fruit or vegetables in a grocery store.
Dangerous property or building lawsuits can be complicated. Experienced attorneys who focus on these types of claims can tirelessly seek compensation for their clients for their injuries.
Defective product cases usually fall within three types of product liability: defective manufacture, defective design, or failure to give instructions or adequate warnings on the correct usage of the product in question. Within each classification, the defective manufacture, design, or failure to deliver warnings or instructions on the product must cause an injury.
A class-action lawsuit may apply in some cases, and finding an attorney with experience in complex litigation is critical.
Oil Worker Claims
Many people in Texas work in the oil and gas industry, and injuries are all too common. The subsequent legal process can be complex, as different sources of liability might be available.
Damages that you might seek after an oil and gas injury can include:
- Lost income
- Medical bills that occurred due to malpractice,
- Loss of earning capacity
- Mental anguish
- Loss of enjoyment of life, and
- Pain and suffering.
Suppose you suffered injuries while working on an oil rig due to an explosion. In that case, you should find a lawyer who takes on oil worker cases as soon as possible.
What Are Some Ways to Locate a Personal Injury Attorney?
The most well-known ways to find a personal injury attorney are:
- Word of mouth: This can often give you access to trustworthy legal services.
- Online searches: These can give you huge volumes of searches, lawyer backgrounds, and ratings.
- Bar associations: These can often provide details on lawyer profiles
What Information Should I Ask My Personal Injury Attorney?
Before you employ the services of a personal injury lawyer, you must learn fundamental information about them. This can be done through an informal conversation over the phone and through email before you hire them. A consultation with the prospective personal injury lawyer should broadcast detailed information about their knowledge and experience regarding your personal injury claim.
Your lawyer should share:
- The attorney’s role in the firm
- The attorney’s experience in personal injury
- The attorney’s experience in handling cases comparable to yours
- The attorney’s success in related cases
- The attorney’s fees for related cases
- The attorney’s opinion on the projected outcome of your case
- How many other cases the attorney is currently working on
- The average amount of compensation the lawyer wins in similar cases
- Any conflict of interest issues
Advice on How to Find a Personal Injury Attorney?
When searching for a personal injury attorney, it helps to take some time first to determine your search needs.
Some tips include:
- Try to pin down the category of your legal issue
- Decide whether you want to work with a specific type of attorney or if you have any special needs
- Start preparing documents and papers that might be helpful for your claim
- Make a checklist of questions you might have for your lawyer
- Make a written statement of the incident that led to your damages
How Should I Know What to Look For in a Personal Injury Lawyer?
Knowing what you’re looking for in a lawyer can make a significant difference in the legal services you receive. It is best to understand how to find a personal injury attorney and what factors you need in a lawyer.
Some hints about what to look for in an attorney include:
- Licensing: Your lawyer should currently hold a valid license under their state bar association. Some attorneys may practice in multiple states.
- Focus: Some attorneys focus on particular legal areas. Employing an experienced injury lawyer is wise if you have specific legal questions or issues.
- Track record: You may want to explore the attorney’s history of performance in cases that are comparable to yours
- Fees: Lawyers may charge fees differently from one another. For example, one attorney might apply a flat rate, while another may use a contingency fee based on the amount of your recovery.
Lastly, you should evaluate your situation and legal needs when choosing a lawyer. For example, if you’ve been in a car accident, you will want to choose a personal injury attorney who has experience dealing with car crashes.
What Should I Avoid When Looking for a Lawyer?
When searching for a lawyer, there are also some aspects that you should avoid.
These may include:
- Violations: You don’t want to hire an attorney who is currently on probation or suspended due to a professional responsibility or ethics violation.
- Conflicts of Interest: Professional responsibility laws ban attorneys from taking on cases where they have a conflict of interest with their clients.
- Personal Involvement: Likewise, most state laws restrict attorneys from getting personally involved with their client’s affairs while representing them. This can cause conflicts of interest and other legal issues.
Therefore, you may wish to hire a lawyer who has a similar outlook and perspective that you do. This will help avoid potential conflicts that can cause delays or setbacks during the trial.