Is It Worth Hiring a Personal Injury Attorney?Personal Injuries
It is definitely worth it for many people to hire a personal injury attorney following an accidental injury due to another party. Year after year, countless individuals turn to a personal injury attorney in their time of need to ensure they receive the full compensation they deserve for their injuries and losses.
While we always recommend legal representation, you must make your own decision about whether to hire a charleston personal injury attorney. Understanding the potential benefits of hiring a personal injury lawyer may help you make an informed decision to seek the legal assistance necessary for your case.
Who Might Hire a Personal Injury Lawyer?
Several circumstances might lead one to hire a personal injury attorney.
The typical personal injury firm handles many case types, including but not limited to:
- Car accidents
- Truck accidents
- Motorcycle accidents
- Pedestrian accidents
- Bicycle accidents
- Elder abuse and neglect cases
- Slip and fall accidents
- Trip and fall accidents
- Premises liability cases
- Workplace accidents
- Animal attacks
- Defective product cases
- Defective and dangerous drug cases
- Class-action litigation
- Boat accidents
- Environmental contamination cases
These are just some of the many reasons a person might approach a personal injury lawyer. Not every personal injury firm handles the same case types, but there is likely a personal injury firm willing to handle the specific case you have.
Why Hire a Personal Injury Lawyer?
If you hired a personal injury lawyer, it’s generally because:
- You or a loved one has suffered injuries or illness
- You have lost a loved one
In the first case, your attorney may pursue an insurance claim or lawsuit. In the latter, your attorney will likely file a wrongful death case. However, in some cases, an attorney pursues an insurance claim but then decides that a lawsuit is necessary.
However your case unfolds, clients generally hire a personal injury lawyer to seek justice for an injury, illness, or wrongful death.
Considerations That Might Lead You to Hire a Lawyer, Rather Than Handling a Claim or Lawsuit on Your Own
Why doesn’t a victim of negligence just handle their own insurance claim or lawsuit?
Victims of negligence hire attorneys because: of
- The high stakes of a lawsuit or claim: The more serious injuries cost more to treat. The more costly your injuries or illnesses are, the more you stand to lose if you don’t put forth an effective claim or lawsuit. In high-stakes cases, many plaintiffs choose to hire an experienced attorney rather than represent themselves.
- The stressful nature of a lawsuit or claim: Negotiating for fair compensation can be stressful, as can other responsibilities of a civil case. Rather than face this stress and risk potential health issues, many let an attorney handle their case instead.
- Time constraints: Many people who hire an attorney simply lack the time to handle an insurance claim or lawsuit. They often have jobs, loved ones, and other personal responsibilities to worry about, and claims and lawsuits can be quite time-consuming.
- Unfamiliarity with insurance and legal processes: Most individuals do not deal with insurance companies or the legal process daily, as lawyers do. The lack of familiarity leads many to rely on attorneys who understand every aspect of insurance claims and civil cases.
An attorney may help in cases where plaintiffs suffered serious injuries, life-changing illnesses, or lost a loved one. That said, there is no injury or illness too minor to seek help from a personal injury attorney.
What Does a Personal Injury Lawyer Do?
A personal injury lawyer’s responsibilities may shift from one case to the next. Each client has unique circumstances, demands, and goals for their case. An experienced attorney knows how to adapt their process to each client’s case.
In most cases, a personal injury lawyer:
Protects Their Client from Insurance Companies
The United States has the largest insurance market on the planet. The largest insurers in the United States have immense financial resources on their side, and hiring an attorney is one way for victims of negligence to counterbalance insurers’ might.
An attorney should protect their client from all unsavory tactics by insurers, including:
- Issuing lowball settlement offers
- Pestering the client to accept an unfair offer
- Stalling a claim
- Misrepresenting an insurance policy
- Making false claims about insurance-related circumstances
- Intimidating the client
Insurers make their money by taking in more money than they pay out. Therefore, an experienced attorney will expect pushback from insurers and will be ready to fight on their client’s behalf.
Identifies and Documents Their Client’s Damages
Each client suffers different damages.
A personal injury lawyer may document damages using:
- Medical records
- Images of injuries
- Proof of lost income
- Expert testimony
- Other types of documentation
The documentation a lawyer uses will depend on the damages a client suffers.
Documents Negligence by Liable Parties
Negligence is a standard of liability in personal injury.
An attorney will work to prove the liable parties’ negligence, perhaps using:
- Witness accounts of events that caused the plaintiff harm
- Expert testimony about the defendants’ negligence
- Reconstructions of an accident resulting from negligence
- The plaintiff’s own account of events
- Video footage of a harmful event caused by negligence
Like documentation, evidence varies from case to case. An effective lawyer will collect all available evidence to help their client’s case.
Calculates the Value of a Fair Settlement
After identifying their client’s damages, a personal injury lawyer calculates their cost. The cost of damages is unique to each client.
Fights for the Fair Settlement
A personal injury lawyer represents their client during personal injury settlement negotiations.
These negotiations generally call for a lawyer to:
- Prove their client’s damages
- Present evidence of the liable parties’ negligence and liability
- Explain their calculation of the settlement figure
- Make oral arguments supporting their case
- Refute any arguments posed against their client’s case
Settlement negotiations are a chance for lawyers to prove their value to clients.
Completes Any Necessary Trial
A trial is not typically necessary in civil cases, as settlements are far more common. Settling is generally less expensive and time-consuming for all parties, so there is often a mutual motivation to reach a fair settlement agreement.
However, a personal injury attorney should always be willing to take their client’s case to trial if necessary. This is especially true when defendants don’t offer a fair settlement.
Manages Every Other Detail of the Legal and Insurance Processes
Each personal injury and wrongful death case places unique demands on an attorney.
A lawyer should:
- Complete all case-related paperwork
- File paperwork and supporting documents in a prompt manner
- Collect any evidence that is in the liable parties’ possession
- Manage all case-related communications, as this is critical to protecting the client
- Handle every other responsibility in a lawsuit or insurance claim
An attorney should be ready and willing to do it all for their clients when necessary
What Kinds of Damages Does a Lawyer Seek Money For?
A personal injury lawyer seeks compensation for the damages that their client has suffered.
- Existing damages
- Foreseeable future damages
- Economic damages
- Non-economic damages
Each case type and individual case produces different damages, though there are common types of recoverable damages among plaintiffs.
Economic Damages Among Personal Injury Clients
Some types of economic damages that personal injury lawyers often see are:
- Medical expenses: Clients who have suffered injury or illness due to someone else’s negligence generally have medical expenses.
- Lost income: Injured and sick parties may be unable to work, which means many of them lose income. These parties may also lose the opportunity to earn bonuses and promotions and suffer other professional damages.
- Property expenses: In several case types, including motor vehicle accidents, a plaintiff suffers property damage. A personal injury attorney generally demands that liable parties cover the cost to replace or repair damaged property.
- Loss of financial support: In wrongful death cases, an attorney will project a decedent’s future income. This is financial support that surviving loved ones may be entitled to replacement compensation for.
- Loss of household services: If someone passes away, surviving loved ones lose the value that the decedent brought to the household. Lost household services may include handiwork, assistance with household chores, financial management services, and more.
Some cases may involve additional types of economic damages. It will be your attorney’s responsibility to identify and value those damages.
Non-Economic Damages Among Personal Injury Clients
Non-economic damages can be just as important and expensive as economic damages.
Some examples of non-economic damages include:
- Pain and suffering: Pain and suffering can cover several different types of damages. This includes emotional distress, psychological distress, and physical pain.
- Loss of companionship: In wrongful death cases, a spouse may seek compensation for the loss of their companion.
- Loss of guidance: Also in wrongful death cases, surviving children may deserve compensation because they have lost the guidance that a deceased parent might have provided.
- Lost quality of life: When one loses their quality of life because of a liable party’s negligence, a financial recovery should reflect it.
Non-economic damages may be greatest in cases involving disabling injuries and wrongful death. However, this category of damages is common in most cases that a personal injury lawyer handles.
How Should I Choose the Right Personal Injury Lawyer for My Case?
Choosing a personal injury law firm in Charleston is a personal decision. Each plaintiff must use their instincts and objective criteria to choose the right attorney for their case.
Some objective criteria to consider are:
- The law firm’s reputation: You can gauge a firm’s reputation through testimonials, public reviews, and word of mouth. If reviews are largely positive or someone recommends the firm to you, this may be a “pro” in that firm’s column.
- The firm’s case results: You generally want to see that a law firm has secured impressive case results for other clients. This is an objective measure of a law firm’s effectiveness.
- The firm’s financial resources: If a law firm regularly takes cases to trial, you may know that it has the financial resources necessary to lead your case the right way. Otherwise, a law firm may take the easy way out when a case becomes too costly.
- The firm’s fee structure: Most personal injury law firms offer a contingency fee structure. This means that clients do not pay any upfront or out-of-pocket compensation. Instead, the law firm gets a percentage of any settlement or verdict they get for the client.
- The impression you get during your consultation: If you get a good impression during your consultation with a law firm, that is another positive development.
Do your homework before hiring a personal injury lawyer, as this can determine how much compensation you can recover.
Nathan Hughey, an attorney and fourth-generation South Carolinian, founded Hughey Law Firm in 2007. Before that, he spent five years defending nursing homes and insurance companies. Leveraging his experience, he now advocates for those injured or wronged by such entities, securing over $220 million in verdicts and settlements.