Personal injury claims arise primarily in two settings, at work or outside of work. If someone is injured on the job, the claim is usually covered under a workers compensation plan. In that case, it doesn’t matter if the injured worker is at-fault or not.
If someone’s is injured outside of work, then he has to prove that the person who injured him is at fault, and only then can he recover money. Most personal injury claims are resolved before trial through a process of information gathering/sharing with the opposing party to demonstrate that the defendant will lose the case if it goes to trial. However, if the case doesn’t settle before trial, then a jury will decide who is at fault and the amount of damages to award for plaintiff’s injuries, plus loss of wages, future medical expenses, and damages for lost quality of life.
A good personal injury attorney must have certain characteristics and skill sets, including the following:
- He must be empathetic. A lawyer who is empathetic to his client, especially to the client’s injuries, and the pain and suffering that the client is enduring because of the injuries, is miles ahead of a lawyer who can’t relate to the client on that personal level. The empathetic lawyer will not only be more available to his client during the necessary “hand holding” that takes place in representing an injury victim, but that lawyer will be able to paint the full picture of his client’s injuries and the effects of the injuries on the client and his quality of life, whether to opposing counsel, or the jury if the case doesn’t resolve before that.
- He must be a good investigator. There are often lots of facts that must be uncovered in proving that the client is not at fault and that the defendant is at fault, and in proving the seriousness of the client’s injuries. Documents must be gathered and analyzed, often from various police agencies and hospitals, and witnesses must be interviewed and information analyzed. Also often, both liability and medical experts are retained who point out necessary facts and information to prove both liability and the seriousness of the client’s injuries.
- He or she must be committed to the client. Some personal injury cases can be resolved quickly, especially the smaller ones. However, the larger cases often take more than a year to resolve and it is very important that the lawyer you choose be fully committed to the cause, however long it takes, and even if it means taking the case to trial and presenting the case to a jury.