Choosing a personal injury attorney can be challenging. These days, there are hundreds of attorneys out there. When driving on I-95, probably the highest concentration of billboard advertisement are those of legal nature. Some attorneys have offices in skyscrapers in a downtown area, while others work out of small offices. Some personal injury attorneys focus their practices on catastrophic injuries from medical malpractice and wrongful death. Others concentrate on product liability, asbestos, and other special areas of law. Many have expertise in auto accidents, slip and falls, and workers’ compensation.
Nevertheless, there are certain qualities that the attorney you are willing to retain must have: professionalism, attention to details, effective communication with you as his or her client, and keeping your best interest at heart are just a few of those important qualities.
Your attorney should also understand what kind of damages you are entitled to. Damages are a type of monetary compensation that is paid to the injured party. This payment helps to defray the many costs and expenses associated with the personal injury. In some cases, injured individuals may receive substantial compensation for a personal injury.
Every personal injury case is different. The factors involved in the case relate to the factors involved in the accident. Some individuals are injured significantly in car accidents or as a result of medical malpractice, or neglect in a nursing home. Other individuals are hurt in slip and fall accidents or by dog bites. Regardless of what your case details are, your attorney should have the experience necessary to get you the compensation you deserve. He or she should be dedicated and ready to fight for you and maintain effective communication with you.
Understanding Personal Injury Accidents
When a personal injury affects an individual, the repercussions can be devastating. These events may lead to severe and lasting medical issues. Medical bills may accumulate. Medication costs can climb. A personal injury accident can be very costly.
Of course, not all personal injury cases are severe. Some accidents result in minor harm or injury. Nonetheless, many injured individuals may still have a case.
Criteria for Personal Injury
When filing a personal injury claim, an injured individual must prove that fault “by a preponderance of the evidence.” This is also known as the Claimants “burden of proof.” In order to prove that case, the injured party must demonstrate liability by a “preponderance of the evidence.” In other words, the jury may have doubts but still decide that the person is likely guilty of causing an injury as long as the evidence points to guilt, and the jury conclude that the defendant is more likely than not guilty. It is more likely than not that the claimant was injured as he or she described. It is more likely than not that the personal injury occurred as stated.
Negligence and Its Elements
- Negligence is defined as one’s failure to behave with the level of care that someone of ordinary prudence would have exercised under the given circumstances. In a car accident claim, for example, the plaintiff must prove that the defendant owed you a duty of care, and the duty was breached, leading to the plaintiff’s injury. Typically in order to meet the injury element of the prima facie case, the injury has to be one of two things: bodily harm or harm to one’s property.
- Four elements are required to establish a prima facie case of negligence: duty, breach, causation, and damages. More specifically, there has to exist a legal duty that the defendant owes to the plaintiff; this duty has to be breached by the defendant, causing the injury (in a way that the breach is both an actual and proximate cause of the injury), and the plaintiff has to suffer an injury. These four attributes are the basis for a personal injury claim.
- Duty refers to the duty of a party to take care. For instance, a physician has a duty to protect the patient. A store has a duty to put out signs when the floor is wet. A pet owner has a duty to keep a dog on a leash or behind a fence.
- A breach of that duty occurs when the at-fault party fails to discharge that duty. If a driver fails to drive slowly on a slick road, he or she has likely breached the duty of care. Moreover, if a surgeon fails to take reasonable precautions during surgery, he too has breached the duty of care.
- Thirdly, there is causation. In other words, the personal injury is directly (“proximately”) caused by the breached duty. You get injured because the at-fault party failed to carry out the duty. Finally, in order to recover the plaintiff also needs to prove damages. Personal injury damages encompass two types. There are compensatory damages and punitive damages. Compensatory damages assign a monetary value to the claimant’s injuries. This can be a value assigned to physical, emotional and/or financial injuries.
- Within compensatory damages, there are also two types. Special damages and general damages. Special damages refer to money awarded for costs and expenses. These expenses can be medical costs, costs of disability living, lost wages, property repairs and replacements, and even funeral costs. Meanwhile, general damages refer to money awarded for non-monetary losses.
- General damages compensate personal injury victims for pain and suffering. This can include emotional distress and loss of life quality. General damages can also award victims for disturbances in relationships. These include loss of affection, love, and comfort between spouses and family members. Special and general damages are important. These two types of compensatory damages differ from punitive damages.
- Punitive damages do not compensate the personal injury victim. Rather, these damages seek to punish the at-fault party. Such damages are awarded in cases where the at-fault party is being intentionally or extremely (outrageously) negligent or reckless. Both compensatory damages and punitive damages can be awarded for personal injury cases. However, victims of simple negligence are less likely to receive punitive damages than victims in more severe personal injury cases.
Gross negligence denotes cases where the defendant demonstrates a complete and total disregard of an individual’s duty. In other words, the at-fault party makes little to no effort whatsoever. Because of this, in the cases that involve gross negligence, the plaintiff could often receive greater compensation for his or her injury. However, there are many other factors that play a crucial role when it comes to one’s ability to recover damages.
Reckless conduct is different from negligence and gross negligence in one major way. A reckless individual or party engages in conduct that is more likely to cause harm than is negligent behavior.
To prove this type of misconduct, it must be shown that the at-fault party knew what was happening. The at-fault party knew the act was wrong and knew the act would almost certainly result in injury. Nonetheless, the at-fault party engaged in this act intentionally.
Intentional misconduct cases can often garner punitive damages. That is, a personal injury victim may be able to recover damages aimed at punishing the at-fault party. Overall, there are many types of personal injury cases. Moreover, there are multiple grounds for personal injury cases. Negligence, gross negligence, recklessness, and intentional misconduct are all different. They all require different forms of evidence to prove that they have occurred.
It doesn’t matter what type of personal injury case a victim endures. It can be a slip and fall, a dog bite, a car accident, or something entirely different. In all cases, a versatile personal injury lawyer can help. Reputed Personal Injury Lawyers understand the details of a claim. Consummate professionals can assist significantly.
But first, a claimant must understand how to find a qualified attorney.
Finding A Qualified Attorney
Again, “personal injury” refers to a wide array of injuries and injury cases. Every case has its own unique details as well. These details relate to the setting, situation and circumstances of the accident. No two personal injury cases are the same.
That’s why it is critical to retain an experienced personal injury attorney
In finding and hiring a professional lawyer for your case, you need to be strategic. Some injury lawyers only specialize in certain types of cases. Moreover, different attorneys handle different sub-categories. For instance, one personal injury lawyer may focus entirely on motorcycle accidents. Another personal injury lawyer may work extensively on truck accidents or public transportation mishaps.
When looking for a professional personal injury lawyer for your case, be sure to research the specifics. Search online for lawyers “near me.” Locate accident attorneys who focus on the exact type of your personal injury. You can typically visit the firm website to learn more.
It is also important to consider an attorney who is realistic. You probably don’t want a personal injury lawyer who promises too much or too little. You could also consult with multiple lawyers. If your case is not strong, the lawyer should tell you. You may also want an attorney who can manage all aspects of your personal injury case.
Personal Injury Attorney Fees And Costs
When hiring an accident attorney, always be cognizant of expenses. Most personal injury attorneys work on a contingency fee agreement. In other words, you don’t pay anything until you are awarded compensation for your injury. Most accident attorneys will charge roughly 33% of your monetary recovery, but the amount contingency could be different, depending on specific circumstances, and there are usually different fees involved, including filing fees, administrative fees, documentation fees, and many others.
Oftentimes your attorney will pay these fees for you, and you won’t have to pay them back even if you lose. But everything depends on the agreement between you and your attorney. Thus, it’s important to read the engagement agreement and ask your attorney questions.
Also be sure to understand your attorney’s litigation experience. Reputed personal injury attorneys litigated many cases, and have been through hundreds, and thousands of arbitrations. Your attorney should be skilled and experienced. Whether you settle or go to court, you want an attorney who fights for you.
If you need a seasoned lawyer to help you get compensation, consult The Law Offices of Samuel Fishman today. We have assisted more than 20,000 clients. Many of our clients use our services more than once, and recommend our practice to their friends.