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Personal Injury Lawyers 101

If you've been injured in an auto accident, a personal injury attorney can help you deal with car insurance companies and ensure that you receive fair treatment in settlement negotiations.

If you're thinking about hiring a personal injury lawyer, this quick overview can make your decision easier.

The Benefits of Hiring a Personal Injury Lawyer

There are many benefits to hiring a personal injury attorney when you've been injured in a car accident, especially if your injuries are serious. See below for some of the ways hiring a personal injury lawyer can help you deal with your claim.

Experience with Car Insurance Companies

You don't deal with insurance companies every day. These lawyers do. They understand the process of reaching a settlement, and because they've seen cases like yours, most personal injury law firms have a good idea of the type of settlement you can expect.

An attorney also understands how to negotiate with auto insurance companies to get you the fairest settlement possible.

Knowledge of the Law

An experienced personal injury lawyer knows the particular laws that apply to your accident. Because of this, they may see other avenues for settlement that you don't. This can be especially important if the accident involved an uninsured driver.

Understanding of Accident-Related Injuries

Because lawyers who specialize in personal injury cases deal with injuries caused in car accidents frequently, a trained attorney may be able to make recommendations for medical tests and care you should explore.

More importantly, he will understand the long-term effects, if any, of your injuries. This is vitally important in deciding whether a settlement offer is a fair one.

Court Experience

Finally, if you are unable to reach a settlement with an insurance company, or if the cost of the injuries exceeds the insured amount, a personal injury lawyer can represent you in court.

This is essential if you have to sue the auto insurance company or others to get full coverage of your medical expenses and other pain and suffering.

How to Choose a Personal Injury Lawyer

Choosing the right personal injury attorney can ensure that your case gets settled in the most advantageous manner for you. The U.S. Federal Trade Commission offers these pointers for choosing an attorney:

  • Look for a lawyer who has experience and a good record settling personal injury cases. Some of the ways to find an attorney who specializes in auto accident settlements include:
    • Ask friends, family and associates.
    • Call your state bar association.
    • Check with a lawyer referral service.
  • In states that allow lawyers to advertise, you may find one through an ad.
  • Interview more than one lawyer before deciding who will represent you.
    • Most personal injury attorneys offer a free initial consultation.
  • Discuss all fees and costs at your initial consultation.
    • Get any details in writing before you make a commitment.
  • Choose a lawyer with whom you feel comfortable discussing your case and with whom you can be honest.

What to Submit to a Personal Injury Attorney

The more information your attorney has about your case, the more quickly and completely you can be compensated for your medical expenses and pain and suffering.

To ensure a complete, speedy resolution to your case, make sure your lawyer has all the information and documentation he needs to pursue a settlement. That information may include:

  • Your vehicle, insurance, and driver's license information.
  • Details of the accident, including:
    • Date, time, location.
    • Weather and traffic conditions.
    • Information about other vehicles, drivers and passengers.
    • Names and contact information for witnesses and copies of any accident or incident reports filed.
  • Copies of traffic tickets written at the scene and information about any charges brought against drivers involved, including DUI charges.
  • Physician report and medical records related to the accident.
  • X-rays and test results related to injuries from the accident.
  • Information about pre-existing conditions or injuries that may have been exacerbated by the accident.
  • Record of expenses for ongoing medications, treatment, and therapies.
  • Any other expenses incurred because of the accident, including transportation costs.
  • Documentation of days, hours and wages lost because of the accident.
  • Copies of all correspondence with insurance companies related to the accident.

It may be helpful to keep a personal injury diary to note appointments, expenses, contacts with the insurance company and your general feelings and medical condition following the accident.

Costs of a Personal Injury Attorney

The cost of a personal injury attorney can vary greatly depending on:

  • The complexity of the case.
  • The time it takes to settle.
  • Whether the attorney must pursue litigation.
  • The size of your settlement.

Most lawyers who specialize in this type of case will work on a contingency basis rather than charging a retainer or a flat fee. In other words, they get paid based on the size of your settlement.

Keep in mind that some lawyers may charge you for costs associated with filing your case even if there is no settlement. Always be sure you understand exactly what you will owe depending on the outcome of the case. To learn more, visit our Personal Injury Attorney Feespage.

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