What Does a Personal Injury Lawyer Do? An Informative Guide
A personal injury lawyer is a legal professional who provides representation for someone who has been injured in an accident. A personal injury attorney works in tort law, this is where someone commits a wrong against another person.
In the case of an injury caused by an accident, a lawyer will either argue that the injury was either caused intentionally or through neglect.
But exactly what types of law firms deal with this type of litigation, and what kind of cases do they see?
Let’s look at the types of lawyers who practice this type of law and examine some of the typical cases that they handle.
The Different Types of Personal Injury Case
Personal injury cases usually involve negligent acts by a third-party. The types of cases that fall under this umbrella include:
- Car accidents
- Motorcycle accidents
- Animal bite injuries
- Aviation accidents
- Bicycle accidents
- Defective products
- Boating accidents
- Medical malpractice
- Construction accidents
And many more.
A personal injury lawyer may also handle wrongful death cases. They will deal with slip and fall accidents and they will also take care of nursing home abuse cases.
What Does a Personal Injury Lawyer Do?
A personal injury law firm will handle cases from their very start right through to the appeal stage. They will perform many of the same tasks to other forms of litigators. A personal injury will investigate claims and talk to potential clients to find out whether there is any merit in their case.
Once a personal injury lawyer takes on a case they will gather up evidence, form legal theories, and research the laws that directly apply to that case.
Some of the tasks involved in the legal process include; drafting pleadings and making discovery requests. They will also interview and depose witnesses.
These tasks prepare a case for trial, but of course, the job doesn’t just involve preparation. A personal injury lawyer must also advocate for their clients during the course of the trial.
A personal injury lawyer will often have a large caseload. They will generally work on quite a tight deadline and may even have clients that are quite demanding. While all this may be true, the job can also be rewarding as they will often help victims receive justice.
Because personal injury cases can be very complicated, attorneys will often need to be specialists in certain types of cases. For example, this car accident law firm specializes in a variety of auto accidents.
What Qualifications and Experience Does a Personal Injury Lawyer Need?
All types of lawyers need to follow the same path. They must all go through the same formal training and education. They must first earn their law degree and then pass a written bar exam. This cannot be done until they’ve completed an undergraduate degree and passed the Law School Admission Test.
Once they are qualified, a lawyer can also become a certified specialist in civil trial advocacy. They can do this by completing a special certification program which is accredited by the National Board of Legal Speciality Certification.
It is often a requirement by state bar associations that personal injury lawyers pass the Multistate Professional Responsibility Exam. The focus of this exam is on professional behavior.
What Personal and Professional Skills Does a Personal Injury Lawyer Need?
Oral advocacy is a skill that all of the best personal injury lawyers possess. They should be able to handle stress well and work well under pressure. This is especially true of lawyers who practice law on their own, rather than join a big law firm.
Lawyers who work in this field typically represent their clients on a contingency basis. This means that their fees will come out of any compensation that the plaintiff may receive. This is usually around 30-40 percent.
Under this type of arrangement, the plaintiff won’t pay a fee until or unless the lawyer wins the case.
Very often, a personal injury case will take several years before it is resolved. This means that any lawyer who is not part of a major law firm would need to balance their time between shorter, less demanding cases and bigger cases.
Most new personal injury lawyers will start by joining a large established law firm before standing on their own two feet and starting their own firm.
Many will also spend some time working out of insurance defense firms. This will give them a good understanding of how their adversaries put their cases together.
How Much Does a Personal Injury Lawyer Earn?
While working on a contingency basis can be problematic, most personal injury lawyers are well paid. Most plaintiff lawyers can expect to earn somewhere in the vicinity of $30,000 to $300,000, while the top lawyers command seven-digit salaries.
A plaintiff lawyer who earns the top amounts usually works on cases such as class action lawsuits or personal injury cases with high compensation.
Punitive damages designed to punish the defendant can make the verdict amount rise by millions of dollars. All of this increases the lawyer’s final percentage share.
Most personal injury lawyers will start on quite a modest salary if they go and work for a major law firm, however, they should also receive a percentage of any fees that the firm earns as a result of them winning their cases.
The Final Verdict
A personal injury lawyer goes to bat for someone that has been injured as a result of an accident where there was either neglect or intention to harm. They work on a no-win-no-fee basis and as such need to have the skills to manage their time well.
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