According to the National Safety Council, multiple accidental injuries occur every single second in America. Those accidents aren’t all related to vehicle collisions. In addition to car accidents, people are hurt slipping and falling, in workplace or equipment-related incidents, by dog bites, by unintentional poisoning, as a result of using a defective product or one without a proper warning label, or as a consequence of false imprisonment, among other circumstances. If you've been injured in an accident or other event that may be the fault of someone else, and are dealing with lost wages and medical bills, a personal injury attorney can help protect your interests, and work to get the compensation you need to continue moving forward with your life. Here’s how to find and hire a personal injury lawyer whose experience and approach will be the best match for your case.
First, seek medical attention for your injury.
Get your claim in order by gathering documents, reports, information, and photos.
Screen multiple attorneys by asking about their expertise and success rate with cases like yours.
Understand the process of the lawsuit, and what your role will be.
Weigh the benefits of settlement against the risks of going to trial.
If the injury is major, seek immediate medical attention by calling 911 or having someone bring you to an emergency room. Even if you believe you're okay, it's important to get checked out by medical staff to ensure you don't have internal injuries or other issues that could arise later.
Whatever injury you're dealing with, focus on your recovery by following doctor's orders, taking medications as prescribed, and getting rest. One of the reasons you're hiring a personal injury lawyer is so that the attorney can handle the details of case while you focus on your own well-being and recovery.
ExperTip: Seeking medical attention right after your injury doesn't just help ensure the best physical and emotional outcome following your injury. It also helps document the fact that you were injured and can help begin the paperwork trail that might be required to demonstrate that the injury was related to a specific event or accident. If your personal injury claim is related to medical malpractice, you'll may want to seek treatment from a different doctor or in a healthcare facility that is not the subject of your claim.
While your personal injury attorney will help gather evidence, it's a good idea to start even before you hire one. If possible, at the scene of an accident or event that caused injury:
A consultation provides you with a chance to narrow down your field of prospective attorneys by asking the right questions, including:
While every case is different, some common processes in a personal injury case can include:
ExperTip: Don’t rush treatment for your injury or ignore your doctor’s advice. After doing the initial work to establish fault, your personal injury attorney won’t move forward with your case until your physician determines that you have recovered from your injuries, or your condition has stabilized, and releases you. Neglecting treatment will only prolong this process, and delay any settlement negotiation.
Typically, the earlier a case is settled, the less expensive it is overall. That means you get to keep more of the settlement money. But if you settle too early, you might risk accepting compensation payment that's lower than the amount you need to cover the cost of your damages. It's important to work with your attorney to balance your approach to a settlement, and to ensure that your lawyer will agree to the
If you don't settle, your attorney will likely file a lawsuit. That puts you on a track to have evidence and testimony about the case presented in court. In this case, a jury, judge, or panel of judges decides whether the evidence supports your case and how much compensation should be awarded. Between filing a lawsuit and the actual trial, you can still settle at any time. Your attorney will likely work with you through this process to recommend what might be best for your case.
Ready to speak to a lawyer? Here is our list of the best personal injury attorneys near you.