What is a personal injury lawyer? What types of accidents classify as personal injury? When should you seek help from a personal injury lawyer? These are the types of questions that our law firm receives in droves. If you’re not sure what a personal injury lawyer does or when to seek counsel, this article will break it down for you.
We understand that when you’re dealing with medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering caused by an injury, the last thing you want to do is navigate a complex legal process to get the compensation you need. That’s where a personal injury lawyer steps in.
In this article, we'll review the commonly asked question, "What is a personal injury lawyer?"
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What Is a Personal Injury Lawyer?
Personal injury covers a wide range of legal grounds. That's why so many people ask, "What is a personal injury lawyer?" A personal injury lawyer is a lawyer who provides services to those who have been physically injured in an accident, or through the negligence or wrongdoing of another party.
You might also hear personal injury lawyers referred to as tort lawyers. A tort—not to be confused with the all-too-similar sounding torte— is a civil wrong that leads to harm. Tort law is the process of holding the person responsible legally liable for the act. This kind of law is designed specifically to address actions that have caused harm, providing some relief in the form of compensation.
What Is the Difference Between a Personal Injury Lawyer and a Tort Lawyer?
Why have two titles for the same lawyer? Personal injury lawyers and tort lawyers aren’t necessarily always interchangeable. The difference between the two can be summarized quite simply:
All personal injury lawsuits are torts, but not all torts are personal injury lawsuits.
Think of it this way: A tort is any harm committed to someone, whether it be physical, mental, emotional, or other kind of harm. A personal injury is a kind of tort, characterized by physical harm. If, for instance, you were to get into a car accident that resulted in emotional fallout with no physical injury, that pain and suffering may be classified as a tort. If, on the other hand, that accident results in physical harm, you can file a personal injury suit.
The Most Common Personal Injury Cases
What is a personal injury lawyer in the context of the types of cases they might accept? There are a few types of personal injury cases that seem to take up more than their fair share of space on most personal injury lawyers’ desks. Here are the top five most commonly filed personal injury cases.
The North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT), estimated that there were around 247,214 traffic crashes reported in 2020. Of those, many resulted in some kind of injury, some of which undoubtedly led to costly medical bills, lost wages, and more.
For those who are injured as a result of an accident in which the other driver was at fault or negligent, a personal injury attorney can help build your case to recoup some or all of those losses. There are also special cases regarding how to handle a car accident with an uninsured driver, which your personal injury lawyer can navigate with you.
A medical malpractice suit is one in which a medical professional is held accountable for injuries or harm caused to a patient because of their actions. If a doctor recommends treatment or surgeries that turn out to be incorrect, negligent, or inappropriate, and the patient is harmed as a result, a medical malpractice suit may be filed.
3. Product Liability
We’ve all seen a company issue a product warning or wordy recall after the fact, but what about the damage done by those faulty products to begin with? They might be entitled to compensation for any injuries sustained as a result of using that product.
4. Slip and Fall Accidents
Those bright yellow “wet floor” signs are there for a reason—according to the Centers for Disease Control, over one million Americans suffer a slip and fall injury annually. No matter where this occurs, both public or private property entities may be entitled to pay compensation for injuries.
Wrongful death cases are the result of a loss of life caused by the negligence of someone else. This may be in the form of an accidental drowning, accidental overdose, drowning, or a lack of proper road or construction signage.
So, what is a personal injury lawyer? Someone who advocates for you as a result of an injury caused by an external party.
What Does a Personal Injury Lawyer Do?
What is a personal injury lawyer in the context of how they manage your case? That depends on the extent of the injury, the way in which it occurs, and the other details of your particular case. Your personal injury attorney will review your case and local statute of limitations, and help you determine the extent of compensation you should pursue.
In general, though, the details of a personal injury lawyer's day-to-day work will include the following:
When first taking on a case, a personal injury lawyer will investigate each claim to better understand the details and merits of the case. This is in part because many attorneys charge their fees only after they have secured a settlement—so a stronger case means a stronger chance of getting paid. In other words, when you win, they win.
Examine and Gather Evidence
Once they do take on the case, they may need to gather and examine evidence in support of the plaintiff.
This typically includes evidence of the event itself, like the police or incident report, medical reports, witness statements, accident report, and any camera or security footage. It also includes evidence of the lost wages and monetary costs of the accident, including bills, employment documents, employment reports and property damage reports.
Navigate Insurance Policies
What is a personal injury lawyer? An expert at navigating insurance policies. Insurance policies can be confusing, and insurance companies can be difficult to get in touch with and negotiate with. Personal injury lawyers are well-versed in insurance policies of all kinds, and the providers who offer them.
By carefully reading through your policy, taking the time to reach out to a provider, and guiding you through the process of your claim, personal injury attorneys are more likely to get you the most compensation from your claim than you would otherwise receive.
In dire straits, they can even draft and send a “demand” letter: a document stating the facts of the accident in question demanding a certain amount of compensation.
In the event that the insurance company will not respond to these initial measures, or if the defendant is not cooperating with negotiations outside of court, a personal injury lawyer can use the evidence they have compiled to draft and file a complaint against them.
The complaint serves as an argument for the amount of damages the plaintiff is seeking, and for the placement of responsibility for the accident itself.
Represent You in Court
What is a personal injury lawyer? Someone who represents you in court. If the other party doesn’t agree to the amount of compensation requested, the case may make it all the way to court. So, what is a personal injury lawyer to you in this circumstance? In those cases, a personal injury attorney acts as your advocate and your guide in the court process.
Personal injury lawyers know both the nuances of your case and those of the court system itself—a system that can be very confusing for anyone who hasn’t spent years getting to know its rules and language.
Types of Compensation
What is a personal injury lawyer in the context of what you may be compensated with as a result of the case? If you have been injured in an accident due to the negligence or actions of another party, there may be a few types of compensation your personal injury lawyer can argue for and obtain. Working with a personal injury attorney does not guarantee compensation, but you’ll be in a much better position than if you were to represent yourself.
The most straightforward type of damages, and the easiest to calculate, are referred to as “economic damages”. Read this article to learn about how much to ask for in a personal injury settlement. To determine the cost of economic damages, a personal injury attorney will add up the actual monetary losses caused by the incident. Those might include:
- Medical expenses
- Future medical expenses
- Lost wages
- Future lost wages
- Property damage
- Property loss
- Child care
These numbers can often be calculated using concrete numbers that can be found on medical bills, receipts, pay stubs, and doctors' testimony.
Non-economic damages, as you’ve probably guessed, are monetary amounts assigned to less tangible aspects. These are more difficult to calculate and can be more difficult to defend, as they are estimations based on subjective factors. They include:
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
- Loss of consortium
- Decrease in quality of life
In some cases, a personal injury attorney will also seek punitive damages in a case. This type of compensation can only be rewarded if your attorney proves that the other party acted either with malicious intent or without regard for consequences even when they had access to information that could have prevented the damage.
Because this is so hard to prove, it is most often associated with cases of product liability, in which the manufacturer or seller knew their product was harmful but continued to sell it.
What is a personal injury lawyer? Someone who fights to get you justice and fair compensation.
Final Word: What Is a Personal Injury Lawyer in Raleigh?
An accident or injury can leave you feeling overwhelmed, angry, or helpless. So, what is a personal injury attorney? A personal injury attorney works for and with you to gain that power back, advocating for your needs and the compensation you deserve to get life back on track.
At Van Camp, Meacham & Newman law firm, we offer free 30-minute legal consultations. Our personal injury attorneys are happy to answer any and all questions, and if you feel that a personal injury lawyer is the right fit for your case, we get to work right away. We tackle each and every step of the process, taking on the time and work so you can focus on your emotional, mental, and physical health knowing we are on your side.
If this article did not answer the question: what is a personal injury lawyer, then contact us today. Our personal injury attorneys will listen and assess whether we can assist with your personal injury case. Schedule a consultation with us by contacting our firm online, or calling us locally at 910-295-2525.
Disclaimer: The information seen on this website, including the article above, is not legal advice or legal counsel. If you wish to speak to a personal injury lawyer who serves Raleigh, Fayetteville, Pinehurst, Sanford, and beyond, contact our North Carolina personal injury attorneys directly using our online form or by calling 910-295-2525.