Personal Injury 101: The Lawyer’s Role

Personal injury lawyers are like dentists: they figure in a lot of jokes, but when you need one, there’s no substitute. Whether it’s a motor vehicle accident, a slip-and-fall in a store or mall, an illness or injury caused by a product, or a piano falling from the fourteenth floor, an attorney specializing in personal injury represents the injured party.

FACTS ABOUT PERSONAL INJURY LAW
When dealing with injury law, a lawyer has some obligations to the client. He must keep his finances and bank accounts completely separate from those related to the case. For example, if opposing counsel (the lawyers on the other side) pay a lawyer $15.00 to copy some records, she cannot put that $15.00 in her pocket. That would be called “commingling” and it is against the law.

Attorney-client privilege is also crucial in injury law. This is another term for confidentiality, just as you expect from a doctor. If you tell your lawyer a fact that might damage your case, he cannot reveal that fact to anyone, whether in public or private.

You must have documented physical, mental, or financial injuries, or you do not have a case.

Once a client has signed with a lawyer, a formal Complaint is filed with the court, outlining what has happened, who is responsible and why. The Complaint also provides a dollar amount to settle the case. To arrive at this figure, the attorney or her staff will research the injuring party, determine how much insurance coverage they have, and tally up your “specials,” or medical bills, directly relating to the accident.

There’s no cost to hire a personal injury lawyer, and the client does not pay a fee until the case is settled to everyone’s satisfaction.

CHOOSING THE RIGHT ATTORNEY
Your personal injury lawyer should be sober and serious. He should keep regular hours and return phone calls promptly. She should answer all your questions and translate the complex jargon known as “legalese” into everyday English. Rude, bullying lawyers may be fun on TV, but in real life a client deserves and should demand professional appearance, demeanor, and respect from an attorney.

TECHNOLOGY & THE LAW
The rise of technology has had an impact on law and the way it is practiced. Your attorney may choose to communicate via e-mail or text messaging. She may maintain a web site or a social-media page that provides information or serves as a forum. It’s wise to ask attorneys how technology impacts their practice and what, if anything, you need to know to keep track of your case.

Every moment of the day and night, an accident happens to someone somewhere. When you have been injured, talk to several lawyers, get recommendations, and choose the one who seems most interested in you and most knowledgeable about your situation. Suing someone is never pleasant, but the process does not have to be a nightmare, if you hire a competent, pleasant, and smart personal injury attorney.