When Jane first met with our Personal Injury Lawyer, she was overwhelmed. A car accident left her with mounting medical bills, lost wages, and the daunting prospect of a legal battle with the other driver’s insurance company. As a single mother and a small business owner, Jane simply couldn’t afford the time or the stress of handling a personal injury lawsuit on her own. That’s where our team stepped in.
At The One Click Lawyers, we understand the burden a personal injury can place on you and your loved ones. Our mission is to transform what could be a complex and exhausting legal process into a hands-off, stress-free experience for our clients. We believe that you should focus on your recovery, while we concentrate on fighting for your rights. In this guide, we’ll walk you through the process we used to help Jane in her personal injury lawsuit, and cover all of the frequent questions we get during the process.
Table of Contents
- Understanding the Types of Personal Injury Lawyers
- The Cost of Hiring a Personal Injury Lawyer
- Will I Have to Go to Court in a Personal Injury Lawsuit?
- Recognizing a Strong Personal Injury Lawsuit
- What is a Personal Injury Cause of Action?
- Why Should I Hire a Personal Injury Lawyer?
- What Evidence Do I Need in a Personal Injury Lawsuit?
- Estimating the Worth of Your Personal Injury Claim
- Recovering Lost Wages in a Personal Injury Lawsuit
- Injuries You Can Sue For in a Personal Injury Lawsuit
- Recovering Medical Expenses in a Personal Injury Lawsuit
- Can You Sue If You Didn’t See a Doctor After Your Accident?
- Our Free Personal Injury Lawsuit Consultation
Understanding the Types of Personal Injury Lawyers
Personal injury law is a broad field that covers a variety of circumstances leading to physical or psychological injuries. Consequently, many lawyers specializing in personal injury often focus on certain types of cases to offer the best representation for their clients. Understanding these specializations can help you select the right personal injury lawyer for your unique case.
At the One Click Lawyers, our goal is to connect you with the best attorney for you specific situation. Here are some common Personal Injury specializations we have experts for:
- Automobile Accident Lawyers: These lawyers focus on injuries resulting from vehicle accidents, including cars, trucks, motorcycles, bicycles, and pedestrians. They are knowledgeable about the rules of the road, local traffic laws, and can expertly handle negotiations with auto insurance companies. The One Click Lawyers have an expert for every type, in every state.
- Medical Malpractice Lawyers: When a healthcare provider’s negligent actions cause harm, a medical malpractice lawyer can help. These cases can be complex, requiring an understanding of both legal and medical principles, as well as the ability to prove the healthcare provider’s deviation from standard care.
- Product Liability Lawyers: These lawyers handle cases involving injuries caused by defective or dangerously designed products. This can range from faulty car parts and dangerous pharmaceuticals to unsafe children’s toys.
- Slip and Fall Lawyers: Property owners have a legal obligation to ensure their property is safe. Slip and fall lawyers specialize in cases where individuals have been injured due to hazardous conditions on someone else’s property, such as slippery floors, uneven surfaces, or poorly maintained areas.
- Workers’ Compensation Lawyers: If you’re injured on the job, a workers’ compensation lawyer can guide you through the process of claiming benefits from your employer’s insurance. They can help ensure you receive fair compensation for your injuries, lost wages, and, if necessary, disability benefits.
- Wrongful Death Lawyers: If a person’s negligence or intentional action leads to the death of another, a wrongful death lawyer can help the victim’s family pursue compensation for their loss, including funeral expenses, loss of companionship, and lost future income.
- Assault and Battery Lawyers: Unlike the other specializations that mostly involve accidents, these lawyers focus on intentional harm. If you’re the victim of an attack, these lawyers will represent you in pursuing damages from the assailant.
Each of these specializations requires unique knowledge and skills, making it important to find a personal injury lawyer who fits your specific circumstances. The right lawyer will have experience in cases similar to yours and will be able to guide you through the complex legal process, ensuring you receive the best possible outcome.
The Cost of Hiring a Personal Injury Lawyer
Cost can be a deterrent when considering legal representation, but it’s essential to understand how personal injury lawyers typically structure their fees. Most operate on a contingency fee basis, meaning they don’t get paid unless you do. The lawyer will receive a percentage (usually between 25%-40%) of the settlement or judgment. This arrangement makes legal services more accessible, as you don’t have to pay upfront fees.
Will I Have to Go to Court in a Personal Injury Lawsuit?
The prospect of going to court can be intimidating for many, especially when already dealing with the aftermath of an injury. However, it’s important to note that a significant number of personal injury lawsuits are resolved outside of court through settlements. Here’s what you need to know:
- Settlement Negotiations: The majority of personal injury lawsuits never reach the inside of a courtroom. Instead, they are resolved through settlement negotiations between the injured party (plaintiff) and the person or entity at fault (defendant), typically represented by their insurance company. During this process, both sides present their case, including the extent of the injury, associated costs, and arguments for liability. If both parties can agree on a fair compensation amount, a settlement can be reached, effectively ending the lawsuit.
- Mediation or Arbitration: If negotiations reach a stalemate, a neutral third-party mediator or arbitrator may be brought in to help facilitate a resolution. In mediation, this individual helps both parties reach a voluntary agreement. Arbitration, however, is more formal and the arbitrator’s decision is typically binding.
- Going to Trial: Should negotiations fail or if the defendant denies liability, your case may go to court. At trial, both sides will present their case to a judge or jury. This process is more time-consuming and complex, involving stages such as jury selection, opening statements, witness testimonies, cross-examinations, closing arguments, and finally, the verdict. While this can result in higher compensation, there’s also a risk of receiving less or nothing at all if the court does not rule in your favor.
In deciding whether to settle or go to court, it’s crucial to discuss your case thoroughly with your personal injury lawyer. They can provide an informed perspective, considering the strength of your case, the potential compensation amount, the willingness of the defendant to settle, and your personal comfort with going to trial. Ultimately, the decision should be based on what is in your best interest.
Recognizing a Strong Personal Injury Lawsuit
Every personal injury case is unique, but there are certain elements that contribute to a strong lawsuit:
- Liability: Someone else was at fault for the accident.
- Damages: You suffered significant injuries or financial losses.
- Causation: There’s a direct link between the accident and your injuries or losses.
If these three factors are present, it’s likely you have a strong case. For instance, if you were injured in a car accident because another driver was texting and driving, you have a clear instance of negligence (liability), which directly led to your injuries (causation), and resulted in medical bills or lost wages (damages).
What is a Personal Injury Cause of Action?
In the realm of personal injury law, a ‘cause of action‘ refers to a set of facts or circumstances that give rise to a legal right to sue. Essentially, it’s the reason behind the lawsuit—the event or action that caused harm to the plaintiff and the legal grounds on which they’re seeking compensation. Here are some common causes of action in personal injury cases:
- Negligence: This is perhaps the most common cause of action in personal injury cases. Negligence occurs when a person fails to exercise the degree of care that a reasonable person would under the same circumstances, leading to injury to another. For example, a driver who texts while driving and causes an accident may be found negligent because a reasonable person would know that texting while driving could lead to harm.
- Strict Liability: This applies particularly in cases involving defective products or certain types of dangerous activities. Here, the defendant can be held liable for injuries caused, even if they didn’t act negligently or with wrongful intent.
- Intentional Torts: These involve cases where a person intentionally acts in a way that leads to harm. Examples include assault, battery, and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
- Gross Negligence: This involves a high degree of negligence or carelessness that exhibits a reckless disregard for the safety or lives of others. It goes beyond simple carelessness to include actions that an average person would know are likely to cause harm.
- Premises Liability: This cause of action applies when the injury was due to unsafe or defective conditions on someone’s property, such as in slip and fall cases.
- Wrongful Death: This cause of action comes into play when the negligence or wrongful act of a party leads to the death of another. The surviving family members may bring a wrongful death lawsuit to seek damages.
Identifying the correct cause of action is a critical step in a personal injury lawsuit. It determines what a plaintiff must prove to win their case, the kind of damages they can recover, and more. A personal injury lawyer with experience in your specific type of injury case can help identify the correct cause of action and guide you through the legal process effectively.
Why Should I Hire a Personal Injury Lawyer?
Experiencing a personal injury can be a tumultuous time filled with pain, stress, and uncertainty. One question you might find yourself asking is whether you need to hire a personal injury lawyer. Here are several compelling reasons why hiring a personal injury lawyer can be beneficial:
- Expertise and Knowledge: Personal injury lawyers are well-versed in the intricacies of personal injury law. They understand the legal procedures, can interpret complex legal documents, and know how to properly fill out necessary legal forms. They’re familiar with how the legal system works and can navigate through it on your behalf.
- Valuing Your Claim: Personal injury lawyers have experience in assessing claims like yours. They can give you a ballpark figure of what your claim might be worth based on their experience with similar cases, considering factors like your injuries, pain and suffering, and the other party’s level of liability.
- Negotiating with Insurance Companies: Personal injury lawyers have experience dealing with insurance companies. They can prevent you from accepting a lowball settlement and can negotiate with the insurance company to secure the best possible compensation for your injuries.
- Representing You in Court: Most personal injury cases settle out of court. But if yours doesn’t, you need a lawyer to represent you in court and present your case in the best light possible.
- Saving Time and Effort: Compiling medical records, reviewing police and medical charts, communicating with insurance adjusters: all these tasks require time and expertise. By hiring a personal injury lawyer, you allow them to handle the paperwork, the legwork, and the discussions with opposing counsel and insurance adjusters, giving you time to focus on your recovery.
- Working on Contingency: Many personal injury lawyers work on a contingency fee basis. This means they only get paid if you recover money in your lawsuit. This arrangement ensures that your lawyer is motivated to secure the best outcome for you.
While it’s possible to represent yourself in a personal injury claim, the expertise, advocacy, and knowledge of a personal injury lawyer can greatly increase your chances of obtaining a fair and just resolution. The legal process can be overwhelming and complex, and having an experienced ally by your side can provide peace of mind during a difficult time.
What Evidence Do I Need in a Personal Injury Lawsuit?
A successful personal injury claim is often dependent on the strength and quality of the evidence you can present. The purpose of this evidence is to prove the elements of your case: that the defendant had a duty of care, breached that duty, and that the breach caused your injuries. Here is the evidence you might need:
- Medical Records: These are vital as they document the extent of your injuries and their connection to the accident. They include medical reports, X-rays, prescriptions, therapy notes, and any other relevant medical treatments you’ve received. Remember to keep a record of all medical expenses.
- Photographic and Video Evidence: Photos or videos taken at the scene of the accident can provide a visual account of what happened. They might show hazardous conditions, visible injuries, or damage to vehicles or property. Photos of your injuries over time can also document your healing process.
- Police Reports: If law enforcement was called to the scene of the accident, they likely prepared a report. This could include important details about the accident, conditions, involved parties, and occasionally, the officer’s opinion on fault.
- Witness Statements: Witnesses can provide a third-party perspective on how the accident occurred. Try to gather contact information from any witnesses at the scene. Your lawyer can later obtain their detailed statements.
- Incident Reports: If your injury occurred at work or at a business, there might be an incident report. This can serve as proof that the injury occurred and provide details about how it happened.
- Your Personal Account: Your own account of the accident, your injuries, and how they’ve affected your life can be powerful evidence. It can be helpful to keep a journal detailing your pain levels, emotional state, and any activities you’re unable to perform due to your injuries.
- Income Records: These can prove any income lost due to your injury. They can include pay stubs, tax returns, or a letter from your employer detailing your normal hours, pay rate, and any work missed.
- Expert Testimony: Experts such as accident reconstruction specialists or medical experts can provide professional opinions that support your claim.
It’s important to begin gathering evidence as soon as possible after an accident. A skilled personal injury lawyer can guide you through the process, ensuring you collect all the necessary evidence to build a strong case. At The One Click Lawyers, we understand how critical this step is, and we’re ready to help you gather, organize, and present the evidence you need to succeed in your personal injury lawsuit.
Estimating the Worth of Your Personal Injury Claim
When you’ve been injured due to another’s negligence, one of the first questions you might ask is, “How much is my personal injury claim worth?” While no exact formula can provide an absolute answer, several factors come into play when estimating the potential value of your claim. Let’s explore these factors:
- Medical Expenses: This is usually the most significant part of a personal injury claim. You can claim for past, current, and future medical costs related to your injury. This includes hospital bills, doctor visits, therapy sessions, medications, medical equipment, and any other healthcare expenses.
- Lost Wages: As discussed in the previous section, if your injury caused you to miss work, you could claim for those lost earnings. This includes both past and future lost wages if your injuries affect your ability to earn.
- Pain and Suffering: These are non-economic damages, meaning they don’t have a specific monetary value but significantly affect your life. Pain and suffering could include physical pain, emotional distress, loss of enjoyment of life, and mental anguish.
- Property Damage: If any of your property, such as a car or personal belongings, was damaged in the incident, you could include the repair or replacement costs in your claim.
- Severity and Duration of Injuries: In general, the more severe and long-lasting your injuries, the higher your claim’s value. A minor injury that heals quickly will be worth less than a permanent disability or disfigurement.
- The Defendant’s Liability: The stronger the evidence proving the defendant’s fault, the higher the value of your claim. If you are partially at fault, it could reduce the amount of compensation you receive, depending on the laws in your state.
- Impact on Quality of Life: If your injury impacts your quality of life, such as your ability to participate in hobbies, your relationships, or your overall enjoyment of life, these factors can add value to your claim.
- Legal Representation: A skilled personal injury lawyer can help maximize your claim’s worth by accurately valuing all aspects of your damages, negotiating effectively with the insurance company, and advocating for you in court if necessary.
Estimating the worth of a personal injury claim can be complex, requiring a comprehensive understanding of both legal principles and the specifics of your case. At The One Click Lawyers, we work closely with our clients to assess all aspects of their damages, ensuring that the value of their claims accurately reflects the true impact of the injury on their lives.
Recovering Lost Wages in a Personal Injury Lawsuit
After a personal injury, the initial concern is often the medical expenses. However, the financial impact of an accident often extends beyond hospital bills. For many, lost wages due to missed work can significantly strain their finances. In a personal injury lawsuit, you can claim these lost wages as part of your damages. Here’s what you need to know:
- Understanding Lost Wages: Lost wages refer to the earnings you’ve missed out on because your injury kept you from working. This includes not only the regular hours you’ve missed, but also opportunities for overtime, bonuses, or any advancement that could have been reasonably anticipated had you not been injured.
- Determining Lost Wages: Calculating lost wages can be straightforward if you work regular hours and receive a consistent paycheck. It becomes more complex if you work irregular hours, are self-employed, or rely on commissions or tips. In these cases, you might calculate your average earnings over a certain period prior to your injury.
- Claiming Lost Wages: To claim lost wages, you’ll need to provide documentation such as previous pay stubs, bank deposits, tax returns, or a letter from your employer verifying your regular hours and pay rate. If you’re self-employed, you may need financial statements, invoices, or contracts to prove your lost income.
- Lost Earning Capacity: Sometimes, an injury might affect your ability to earn in the future. If your injury leads to long-term or permanent disability that prevents you from returning to your previous work or reduces your ability to earn, you may be entitled to recover damages for lost earning capacity. Calculating these requires considering factors like your age, experience, skill level, and life expectancy. Often, expert testimony is required to establish and quantify lost earning capacity.
- Legal Assistance: Recovering lost wages can be complex, especially when considering future earnings. A personal injury lawyer can be invaluable in proving these losses and ensuring you’re adequately compensated. At The One Click Lawyers, we work diligently to factor in all possible losses, ensuring our clients receive the compensation they deserve.
In a personal injury lawsuit, every aspect of your life affected by the injury should be considered. That includes your work and your ability to earn a living. Always remember that you have a right to be compensated for any lost wages due to an injury caused by someone else’s negligence.
Injuries You Can Sue For in a Personal Injury Lawsuit
Personal injury law covers a wide array of injuries. Essentially, if you’ve been injured due to someone else’s negligence or intentional misconduct, you may have grounds for a personal injury lawsuit. Here are some common types of injuries that often result in such claims:
- Physical Injuries: These are injuries that cause harm to the body. They can range from minor injuries like cuts and bruises to more severe ones such as broken bones, spinal injuries, traumatic brain injuries, burns, or amputations. Physical injuries can also lead to chronic conditions or permanent disabilities.
- Psychological Injuries: Psychological or emotional injuries can be just as debilitating as physical ones. If an accident leads to conditions like post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, depression, or other psychological disorders, you may be able to sue for these damages.
- Soft Tissue Injuries: These injuries involve damage to muscles, ligaments, or tendons. Examples include sprains, strains, whiplash, or other types of damage that might not show up on standard medical tests but cause significant pain and limitation.
- Wrongful Death: If a loved one dies as a result of someone else’s negligence, surviving family members may bring a wrongful death lawsuit. Compensation can cover funeral expenses, loss of companionship, and loss of financial support.
- Injuries from Medical Malpractice: If a healthcare provider’s negligence leads to injury, a patient may sue for medical malpractice. This can include misdiagnosis, surgical errors, medication errors, or birth injuries.
- Workplace Injuries: If you’ve been injured on the job and workers’ compensation doesn’t adequately cover your damages, a personal injury lawsuit may be another route. This could include injuries from machinery accidents, falls, or exposure to harmful substances.
- Product Liability Injuries: If a defective product causes your injury, you might sue the manufacturer or distributor in a product liability lawsuit. This can apply to a wide range of products, from faulty car parts to unsafe toys or medical devices.
It’s important to remember that every case is unique. The types of injuries you can sue for and the compensation you may receive depend on the specifics of your situation. If you’ve suffered any of these injuries, it’s critical to consult with an experienced personal injury lawyer. At The One Click Lawyers, we are committed to helping our clients understand their rights and secure the compensation they deserve for their injuries.
Recovering Medical Expenses in a Personal Injury Lawsuit
One of the primary reasons individuals file personal injury lawsuits is to recover medical expenses incurred due to another party’s negligence. Medical bills can pile up quickly following an injury, causing financial strain on top of physical and emotional distress. Here’s how you can recover these costs in a personal injury lawsuit:
- Current Medical Costs: These are the medical expenses you’ve already incurred. They can include emergency room visits, hospital stays, surgeries, doctor’s appointments, prescription medications, physical therapy, counseling, medical equipment, and any other treatments related to your injury.
- Future Medical Costs: If your injury requires ongoing or future treatment, you can also claim for these expenses. For instance, if you need additional surgeries, long-term medication, or therapy, these costs can be included in your claim. The calculation of future medical costs often requires expert testimony from medical professionals.
- Proof of Medical Expenses: To claim medical costs, you’ll need to provide comprehensive documentation of your expenses. This can include medical bills, prescription receipts, and any other related expenses. It’s important to keep all records and receipts from your healthcare providers.
- Health Insurance Subrogation: If your health insurance covers your medical costs, they may have a right to be reimbursed from your personal injury settlement. This is known as subrogation. It’s essential to work with a lawyer to ensure any subrogation claims are properly addressed in your settlement.
- Negotiating Medical Bills: In some cases, your lawyer may be able to negotiate lower medical bills with your healthcare providers. This can ensure that more of your settlement goes directly to you rather than covering medical costs.
Recovering medical expenses can be a complex process, but it’s a critical part of ensuring you get the compensation you deserve. With the help of a skilled personal injury lawyer, like those at The One Click Lawyers, you can navigate this process with confidence, focusing on your recovery while we handle the legal and financial details.
Can You Sue If You Didn’t See a Doctor After Your Accident?
Seeking immediate medical attention after an accident is crucial for your health and your potential lawsuit. However, if you didn’t see a doctor right away, you might still be able to pursue a lawsuit, but it may be more challenging. Insurance companies can argue that your injuries were not serious or were not directly related to the accident. Consult a personal injury lawyer to understand the best path forward in such situations.