Hire a Trial Attorney for Your Personal Injury Case

A personal injury attorney, also known as a trial attorney, focuses his or her practice on helping clients injured because of the negligent or reckless conduct of others. These litigators investigate injury claims and determine the parties responsible for their clients’ injuries. A personal injury attorney is paid a percentage of the final settlement or verdict.

Insurance companies like to deal with injured people not represented by an attorney. Since most people only deal with a personal injury claim once or twice in their lifetimes, insurance adjusters possess a lot of leverage against these victims. Insurance adjusters will typically make an offer to make a case go away, but an unrepresented claimant will never get a top dollar offer from the adjuster.

How a Personal lnjury Attorney Can Help You

Claimants might wonder what a personal injury attorney can do to strengthen their bargaining position. Although each case is different, a trial attorney will typically take the following actions when accepting a new client.

1. Investigate the Facts

A personal injury attorney has tools and resources unknown to the general public. The lawyer may hire an investigator to track down witnesses or obtain asset checks on the defendants. An attorney can easily obtain a copy of the police report and will feel comfortable speaking with the investigating officer about any liability issues. An experienced trial attorney will immediately focus on available insurance and will send a letter to the negligent party or the insurer for the negligent party to verify insurance coverage.

2. Determine the Client’s Injuries

Most clients may not even truly understand their injuries. They will understand the pain and suffering. They will understand how their injuries affect their ability to work or just perform activities of daily living. However, they may not understand what treatment is needed to alleviate the pain. An experienced personal injury attorney will speak with the client’s medical providers to determine how long the client may need to treat and when the client’s injuries will fully heal.

3. Attempt to Settle the Claim

Litigation is expensive. Even filing a lawsuit requires a court filing fee and a fee to serve the opposing party with the civil complaint. An experienced trial attorney seeking to save his client time and money will make a good faith effort to settle her client’s claim without a lawsuit. Typically the lawyer will send a demand letter outlining the liability issues and the client’s injuries, making a demand for a specific amount of money. The insurance company will respond after reviewing the materials and make an offer. Back and forth negotiations can take weeks, months or even years, depending on the applicable statute of limitations.

4. File Suit

If a case cannot be resolved, the trial attorney will file a lawsuit on behalf of his client. The complaint will outline the various claims and describe the injuries sustained in the accident. The claimant is now called the plaintiff, and the party accused of negligently or recklessly injuring the plaintiff is called the defendant.

5. Litigation

Rules of civil procedure vary between the federal rules and the rules of different states, but typically the attorneys involved in a civil lawsuit will draft written questions called interrogatories and requests for production of documents. Each side will answer the opposing side’s interrogatories and requests, and then the attorneys typically schedule depositions. During depositions, the parties are questioned under oath about their claims, injuries and defenses.

6. Mediation

Most civil cases are settled during the litigation process. Only two percent of federal cases ultimately go to trial. Some cases are settled with a series of phone calls, emails or letters, but a large percentage of cases are settled at mediation. Mediation is a formal settlement conference involving a neutral third person, called a mediator, who brings the sides together and tries to help them resolve the case.

7. Prepare for Trial

Although few cases go to trial, a competent personal injury attorney will anticipate the possibility from the start of the case. By fully investigating the accident, understanding the client’s injuries, and thoroughly using the discovery process to obtain information from the opposing side, the attorney will be ready to protect his client’s rights at trial.

When You Need A Personal Injury Lawyer

While a personal injury lawyer is important in protecting you, you don’t need him/her all the time. Here are some of the scenarios when you need him.

When you have disabling injuries

In some cases, you might be engaged in an accident that results to a long time or permanent disability. Since having a disability will require you to change your way of life, it’s wise to get compensation that will be worth the difficult situation that you will go through.

Since you might not know how to go about the process of getting the compensation that you need, you should consider getting an experienced lawyer to help you out.

Medical Malpractice

This is a situation when you suffer injuries as a result of mistakes made by a doctor, nurse, technician, or any other medical personnel.

Once you realize that an error has been made and you have been injured, you should get a personal injury lawyer to help you in filing a professional case that will help you in getting the compensation that you deserve.

Severe injuries

In most cases, the amount that you receive in terms of compensation depends on how severe the injuries are. This means that if you have very severe injuries you will most likely receive a very large amount of money as compensation.

Although, this is the case, it’s usually difficult to receive the right amount that you are worth if you don’t know the right channels to use. The good side is that there are many highly trained and professional lawyers who will help you in every step of the way.

Toxic exposure

With the increased use of chemicals, it’s easy to get injuries as a result of contaminants in the air, soil, and water. If you are working in an industry that uses a lot of chemicals and you get sick as a result of it, you should highly consider filing a case.

You should note that such cases are not easy as you have to prove that the chemicals are the ones that resulted to your injuries. Proving your allegations requires a compilation of complex scientific data and an expert to present the data. One of the best people to get is a personal injury lawyer.

Getting a good lawyer

Getting a good lawyer requires you do a lot of research to find a lawyer who will give you the service that you need. Before you hire the attorney, you should first ask the lawyer the amount that you will get after the case. This is to ensure that you don’t spend more money than you will receive as compensation.

No Lawyer Required – Small Claims Court

Your best friend, or someone you thought of as a friend, asked you for a loan of $2,500.00. You had the money, and you liked the guy, so you said okay. Two months have passed, and he bought a new house. You know he’s not hurting. You called him after you heard about the house and asked when he was going to pay you back. He said he had huge expenses now because of the new house. He said soon. Two weeks later you called again. Again he said soon. You just put the phone down. You’re tired of calling. He said soon again. What to do next?

This situation sounds like a case for small claims court. Here’s what you need to do:

1. Letter

Write your friend a letter. Tell him that he has two weeks to pay you back. Tell him you want to resolve his payment to you in a friendly manner, but if you do not receive a check within two weeks, you will see him in small claims court.

We’re hoping that the letter resolves the non-payment problem. If it does not, you’ll have to continue to step two.

2. File a claim

Go to your local small claims court and complete the forms. You can probably download the forms from your county’s small claims website. Submit the forms to the small claims court. The court will schedule a hearing.

3. Service of process

Your friend has become the defendant. He must be served at least 15 days before the hearing date if the defendant lives in San Francisco county. If the defendant does not live in the county, s/he must be served at least 20 days before the hearing date. A capable adult must serve a true copy of the claim. You cannot serve the defendant.

4. Evidence

You next gather all evidence to submit at the hearing. Evidence would include a copy of the cancelled check that you gave your friend and dates and notes of all phone calls that you made to him. You may want to take a photo of his new house.

5. At the hearing

Small claims courts are generally much more informal that other courts. The judge will ask you questions, and then s/he’ll ask your friend, the defendant, questions.

If you have presented the situation with evidence, the judge will probably rule in your favor.

You’ve won your case, and your friend is now going to pay you back, but suppose he doesn’t. Suppose he is a real jerk and has decided that he wants you to have to work just a little harder to get your money back.

6. Collecting a judgment

You have to collect the judgment. The defendant may pay the amount directly to the court. If the defendant does not have the money, the defendant may have to pay installments.

If your friend refuses to pay, you can complete an Application and Order for Appearance and Examination which would require your friend to appear in small claims court to have his income and resources examined.

You could also consider wage garnishment by completing a Writ of Execution. This writ could also levy your friend’s checking or other bank account.

If your friend has a business with a cash register, a sheriff can go to the business for a till tap. The sheriff can take enough money from the cash register to pay the judgment debt. The typical sheriff’s fee for a till tap is $85.00. We hope your friend doesn’t put you in this situation, but if you are ever in this situation, the purpose of small claims courts is to resolve small problems without the expense of an attorney. This is the do it yourself legal remedy.

Disclaimer: This article is not to be considered legal advice. If you need legal advice, seek out a licensed attorney. Remember that small claims courts do not require an attorney. If, however, the losing defendant appeals the small claims court’s decision, the new venue is a superior court. In a superior court, you will need an attorney.