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When you get hurt in some sort of accident, motor vehicle-related or otherwise, you suffer what we in the legal industry call damages.
The injuries you suffered are just one example of your damages. The medical bills that result from treating them are another. If you miss work either because of your injuries or because of the treatment for them – say, weeks of recovery after a surgery – these, too, are damages.
Depending on the circumstances, you might even be able to get compensation for the “pain and suffering” that you experience from the accident. If your injuries are permanent in some way, your damages will include the future pain or limitations you will continue to suffer.
To resolve the problems caused by the accident, you can pursue a personal injury case. This is where you and the people at fault for your accident (or more commonly, their insurance companies) work out how much financial compensation they owe to make you whole again.
In cases where the injuries are minor, this amount might be small – not much more than what you had to pay out-of-pocket in medical bills. If the injuries are more serious and include other damages like lost wages and future impact, the amount could be higher – in the tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands, or even millions of dollars.
Of course, you’re involved in your case. Your role is the claimant or plaintiff, the one who is bringing the claim or lawsuit.
On the other side are the defendants, the people or organizations you are seeking compensation from. Your claim may involve just one defendant or many defendants. They may be individuals, corporations, or in certain situations, even government entities.
If your injuries stemmed from a motor vehicle accident, the at-fault driver will be a defendant. A separate person who owned the vehicle could also be named a defendant in your case. Accidents that involve unsafe premises can include owners and potentially renters of private residences, apartment complexes, and commercial properties.
The defendants can be major corporations with massive resources, but they can also be just people. Even when the defendant is an individual, though, they’re not in this alone. If they have coverage through an auto, homeowner’s or business insurance policy, then that insurer has its own professionals dedicated to both protecting the policyholder and minimizing how much the insurance company has to pay out.
We’re talking massive numbers of civil defense attorneys and insurance adjusters, all standing in the way of your goal – getting the money you deserve for the damages you suffered.
It’s not fair for you – an individual with limited legal knowledge, limited resources, and limited time – to have to take on many highly-trained professionals who have the time and resources to focus their full efforts on resolving your claim for the least amount of money. And when the injuries are severe and there’s a lot of compensation at stake, this path isn’t smart, either. That’s precisely why claimants hire personal injury lawyers – so they can have someone with plenty of knowledge, resources, and time to devote to representing them.
For most claimants, at least part of the reason for hiring a personal injury attorney is to increase the amount of money they receive. Research has shown that attorneys get clients 3.5 times as much money as unrepresented claimants get for themselves – and far more than what they collect in fees.
Of course, this is an average, and every case is different. But if there’s more than a minimal amount of money at stake, having an attorney on your side can only improve your likelihood of getting maximum compensation for your damages.
Your lawyer will fight to get you as much compensation as possible. But it’s not all about the money. Over the course of your claim, a personal injury lawyer will handle a lot of other responsibilities – so you won’t have to.
Personal injury cases go through different phases. Read on to learn how the process works in each phase.
Like we said, every personal injury case is unique. To begin the process of handling your claim, your attorney will need to gather information. The typical law firm will consider this an investigative or pre-litigation stage.
At our office, we have a dedicated investigative phase that every new case goes through. During this phase, a legal professional will conduct an in-depth investigation of your case, which includes getting police reports and medical records and beginning initial interactions with the insurance company.
We also have a pre-litigation stage, where we use that information gathered during the investigation to begin building your case – which, at this point, is called a claim. We’ll do all the work – you just focus on getting better.
Typically, it’s only when you finish your medical treatment that we can know what the full extent of your damages will be. That’s when we begin negotiating with the defendant’s insurance carrier. This is also the stage where we begin litigation and the case officially becomes a lawsuit.
Our goal is to get you the most money possible. How we go about that depends on the details of your situation. If we can settle the case for the full amount of money you deserve and avoid the expense of a trial, we will. But if going to court is the only way to get you what you deserve, we’re prepared to do that, too.
Whether we reach a settlement or attain an award at trial, there are aspects of your claim that need to be finalized. We’ll take care of everything, from collecting your money from the defendants to making sure any outstanding costs or debts related to your case and your treatment are paid.
We know that the process of pursuing a personal injury claim is new and unfamiliar to you. When you ask how it works, you’re wondering all sorts of things, like what you have to do, what you have to pay, how long it’s going to take, and how much money you’re going to get.
Without knowing more about your case, we can’t give you specific answers to questions about timeline or value. No attorney can, at least not reliably. But what’s most important is knowing that someone has your back and is working to figure out what you deserve and maximize your compensation.