What does a personal injury lawyer do?

Personal injury lawyers specialize in seeking compensation for individuals injured by other parties. This includes both physical and psychological trauma caused by the negligence of companies or other individuals. This area of the law known as tort law helps the injured party recover damages for medical bills, pain and suffering, and lost wages. Common types of cases handled by personal injury lawyers are listed below.

  • Animal bite injuries
  • Car accidents
  • Motorcycle accidents
  • Aviation accidents
  • Defective products
  • Boating accidents
  • Brain injuries and spinal cord damage
  • Nursing home neglect
  • Medical malpractice
  • Injuries from toxic waste dumping

Consultation

During this phase, a preliminary assessment is made to determine the potential strength of the plaintiff’s
case. Any potential problems, such as lack of witnesses or contradictory statements, are examined as well. If the San Diego personal injury attorney concludes the case is unlikely to succeed either due to weak evidence against the offending party or lack of a clear legal theory supporting the plaintiff, they may refuse to accept the case. The initial meeting will allow the lawyer to determine if any negligence was involved and if there is a legally culpable party. The client’s medical records are also examined to determine the severity of injuries and appropriate compensation.

Investigation

After the client retains counsel, a detailed investigation will be done. This involves gathering police reports, medical records, witness statements as well as the client’s financial issues such as lost work or family problems arising from the incident. The psychological impact of the injury in combination with loss of ability to work may lead to divorces and difficulty regaining independence. This “ mental anguish” aspect of the injury will need to be included as part of the case. In some situations, video surveillance data may be available. The personal injury lawyer may contact store owners for camera footage that corroborates the client’s allegation. Another key element of the investigation is contacting witnesses and taking their statements.

The Demand Package

In the next step, a demand for settlement letter is sent to the offending party. This letter will outline the damages the client has suffered including pain and suffering, lost wages, and medical bills. After reviewing the letter, the opposing party can reject, accept it, or send a counteroffer. If a settlement is not reached a lawsuit will be filed.

Filing the Lawsuit

The first step of the lawsuit is the discovery phase. The plaintiff and opposing parties exchange information that allows both sides to evaluate the case of the other. Mediation, an attempt to negotiate a settlement, can either precede filing the lawsuit or be the next step after it is filed. An experienced mediator, often a judge will oversee this part of the proceeding.

Trial

Most lawsuits will be resolved by mediation. However, when negotiations fail, a personal injury lawyer’s job is to bring the case to trial where a jury will hear the lawsuit and award any damages including punitive damages

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