After sustaining serious injuries in an accident, it may be difficult to understand what happens next. A victim is in pain, the medical bills are piling up, and the road to physical recovery may seem endless. The same can be said for trying to understand the legal system. A victim and their family should never attempt to forge it alone, without a credible, experienced accident lawyer at the forefront.
The legal process is not a short sprint, but a marathon that requires great care taken to do it justice. From choosing the right lawyer to understanding why things may take longer than expected. Within this article we’ll go step-by-step and provide a closer look at the most important things to know before and after retaining a Personal Injury lawyer.
There are very few things in life that even when rushed, will still ultimately have a successful outcome. When it comes to legal representation, a Personal Injury claim must be viewed step-by-step and handled carefully by experienced and Board Certified lawyers. Less than 1% of lawyers in the country are truly Board Certified; this distinction is difficult to obtain and hard fought to maintain. Knowing a Board Certified lawyer is representing you can offer peace of mind when it comes to the lengthy legal process.
See the person, not the profit
No step in a Personal Injury claim should be skipped or overlooked: from Discovery to Damages, every aspect of a Personal Injury claim has its specific purpose. A lawyer deciding to simply rush through a claim, skipping steps or failing to bring in the correct experts and demonstrative aides causes more hardship for already injured accident victims. These are the same lawyers that will ultimately go on to accept any settlement offer made to get the client out the door. It should be about the people, not the profit.
This practice of “paper pushing” does nothing to bolster the experience, trustworthiness, or reputation level of the lawyer. And, it’s a red flag to find another Firm!
There’s a reason Board Certification is so hard fought by the top lawyers practicing today: senior lawyers have put years of blood, sweat, and heart into the Firms they’ve founded. Each case that enters the office is as important as the next; big or small. A truly exceptional lawyer doesn’t see an injured person as a profit, but an individual in need of justice. A Personal Injury client should be treated like family and given the same justice the lawyer would want for their own loved ones.
“Paper pushers” are not Personal Injury lawyers
When it comes to gaining experience, a lawyer must be able to show hundreds, if not thousands of successful outcomes on behalf of clients. One million dollar win is nice, but what matters is that the lawyer remains consistent over the course of many years. “Paper pusher” lawyers, as we’ve referred to them here on The Law Resource Blog several times are not the lawyers that should be representing Personal Injury claims.
These lawyers see any settlement or verdict payout as a “success”, when in reality the injured victim deserved far more compensation than was recovered on their behalf. “Paper pusher” lawyers see success merely as the number of cases settled, not the lives changed for the better if time and dedication was given to get it for the victim. This type of lawyer will attempt to use “on contingency” (the lawyer doesn’t make money unless he or she wins their case) as something to pull in new clients; a well placed advertisement or commercial. It’s never acceptable to advertise “on contingency” as something special.
The Law Resource Blog is here to provide nothing but the facts for our readers. We pride ourselves on our well-researched articles. As a Firm with 100+ years of combined experience in the trenches, in the courtroom, we can tell you this: it should be clearly understood that Personal Injury is almost always a “no contingency” area of law.
Trusting the Personal Injury process
This is why, after retaining a Board Certified lawyer, there is a process to every Personal Injury case that must be followed to obtain the maximum compensation deserved after sustaining an injury that resulted in lifelong pain or worse, loss of life. The most experienced lawyers know that each claim is a process, and that they must stick with their clients from consultation to settlement, or go to trial when it’s necessitated. A lawyer who runs their Firm like a factory is not the lawyer those injured in accidents wants representing them.
The best Florida accident lawyers NEVER forfeit compensation
A major factor in filing a successful claim is the Statute of Limitations. No matter the extent of the injury or the tragedy surrounding a wrongful death, if a victim or their family has exceeded the Statute of Limitations set forth by the state of Florida, the lawyer cannot recover any compensation on their behalf. This is why the best Personal Injury lawyers don’t waste time. A lawyer who accepts a case will get their entire team working on Discovery, and obtaining “the book” of the client’s life from the very first day, to avoid exceeding the Statute of Limitations and hurting their client’s chances of maximum compensation.
A lawyer who puts off starting Discovery on a case is yet another red flag to find another Firm, one who wants to work hard and is dedicated to pursuing every avenue to obtain the justice their clients deserve.
Discovery, fact-finding should be given their due diligence
The only thing worse than the insurance company’s endless sea of paperwork is trying to navigate the legal system alone. This is something we stress often that should never, ever be done. From Discovery to motions that need to be filed on a deadline, only a lawyer can mitigate these steps in the legal process and ensure they’re completed in the time allowed by law (the Statute of Limitations).
“Fact-finding” is something a lawyer will explain to the client based on the specifics of their case. However this part of the legal process is part and parcel of “Discovery”. What is Discovery? Lawyers define this area of what they do as: “the process in which opposing sides in a lawsuit obtain information on one another and establish the facts of the case.” This is where “the book” of the client’s life will need to be in order.
We’ve discussed this “book” of the client’s life here on the Blog several times, but let’s look at what’s actually found within this figurative chaptered edition:
- Any previous injuries, illnesses, or accidents
- History of medications taken before and after the accident
- A complete list of doctors visited over a set amount of years; a complete list of doctors visited after the accident
- Employment status before and after the accident
- Any and all insurance policies the victim has in place
This should not be taken as an exhaustive list. Each lawyer will ask their client for any documentation he or she feels is necessary for the specifics of that case. This fact-finding and Discovery process can take time and many factors will go into how long the actual process of an individual’s case will take.
Understanding the other side
When it comes to Discovery, the opposing party (the “defense”, usually the insurance company in the instance of a Personal Injury case) will have just as many questions for the accident victim. Without a lawyer, the game of deny, delay, don’t pay will be played indefinitely, leaving the victim in financial ruin and ultimately losing the will to fight for what they know they deserve. That’s what insurance companies do; and that’s why the most experienced lawyers are familiar with their schoolyard bully tactics. Knowing how to fight the insurance companies is something every exceptional Personal Injury lawyer must do well.
Some of the things the insurance company will attempt to obtain during the Discovery process include but are not limited to:
- Accident reports and witness statements from the time the injury initially occurred
- Hospital and medical records to document proof of the injuries sustained
- Statements made to law enforcement after the accident (i.e. police reports); if the victim was unable to speak for themselves at the time, witness statements may become extremely important
- Any photographs or video taken (i.e. from a phone or iPad) at the scene of the accident
The lawyer will know what he or she needs and will obtain those documents as quickly as possible on the client’s behalf. It’s important to heed all advice given by the lawyer and provide any information they may request regarding your case as quickly as possible. If the lawyer begins work on the case immediately following the consultation, it’s a good idea to retrieve anything not on hand as fast as possible.
Resolving Personal Injury cases before trial
Many cases are resolved before they’re ever heard by a judge; they go to what’s known as Mediation and a fair and just dollar amount is negotiated upon by the lawyers. This is called reaching a settlement. This method of Alternative Dispute Resolution can be beneficial to everyone involved because it saves time on the legal side, and can provide the victim of an accident with money needed to pay medical bills on the recovery side.
It’s common for Personal injury lawsuits to settle before going to trial at all. It’s important to be represented by a Board Certified civil trial lawyer who will know, using the specifics of the case available to them, whether that is possible. Sometimes a dollar amount offered isn’t justified for the extent of the injuries a victim has suffered, and the case must go to trial to be resolved fairly. An experienced lawyer will prioritize the client’s best interests above the time it takes to conclude the case.
In conclusion, the most important thing to understand when going forward with a Personal Injury case is this: a Board Certified lawyer is right by client’s side every step of the way to make the process less stressful wherever and whenever possible. The benefit of experienced legal representation means they’re able to obtain the most compensation for an injury or the wrongful death of a loved one.