All lawyers aren’t created equally!
For the record, I’m not talking about ability. Rather, I’m referring to experience and specialties. Most lawyers worth their salt are competent in interpreting the law—they tend to know a little bit about a lot of areas of the law—but the importance of specialization cannot be overstated.
Why Do I Need A Lawyer Who Is Specialized In Personal Injury Law?
In short, experience and knowledge. You wouldn’t hire a real estate lawyer to handle your murder trial so why would you hire a contract lawyer to handle your personal injury case?
Sure, there isn’t as much at stake in the latter example, but it’s still important to pick a lawyer who is knowledgeable and experienced in the area of personal injury law, rather than your brother-in-law who happens to also be a corporate lawyer.
You might be thinking: “Sure, but at least my brother-in-law actually cares about me!”
Well, assumptions about the strength of familial bonds aside, a good personal injury lawyer will care about you too. Ultimately though, their primary goal is to negotiate the best possible settlement they can for your case, and the ability to negotiate well with insurance agencies comes with experience.
A PI lawyer is going to be up to date on the latest case law, recent court decisions, be firmly entrenched in the network of this branch of the law, and have that all-important experience. The reality is that there is no reasonable way for ANY lawyer to be thoroughly versed in every branch of law, so it stands to reason that your best bet for a successful outcome is to look to a lawyer who specializes only in personal injury.
Duties required of a Personal Injury Lawyer
The main duties of a personal injury lawyer are:
- They are responsible for protecting the client’s best interests and should maintain strict confidentiality about the client’s case information and follow principles of legal ethics when dealing with the case
- The lawyer has to discuss the case with the client, mark out the pertinent issues, and do the research needed to build a strong case.
- The lawyer must determine the full extent of the damages suffered by the client. He/she must be willing to research with the help of qualified experts to estimate the damage. For example, if the client has a physical disability, the lawyer should consult a financial expert to estimate the amount of future earnings lost if he can longer work. He must help the client receive justice and the maximum compensation possible for whatever suffering and losses he has undergone.
- The lawyer must help their clients prepare for hearings, depositions, and trials. The injury lawyer must carefully go over all the case elements and guide the client in answering questions correctly without impairing the case. The injury lawyer should also prepare to cross-examine the witnesses in the case
- In the event that a client has to deal with insurance companies after a personal injury, the personal injury lawyer must ensure that client gets the maximum compensation they deserve by managing the negotiations and correspondence on behalf of their client.
What Should I Look For In A Personal Injury Lawyer?
A key question to ask a potential personal injury lawyer is whether they have experience with cases like yours.
There are specialties within specialties, even in personal injury law. For example, I tend to take on cases involving long term disability benefits and MVAs (motor vehicle accidents). That’s not to say that I won’t handle a dog bite case, but they aren’t the focus of my practice and since I have a strong network of PI lawyers, including ones who specialize in dog bites, I might be inclined to refer you to them. Essentially, you’re looking for a lawyer who has dealt with your type of case.
You’re also looking to find out not only their level of experience with a specific case type, but their relative level of success on those cases. (And be wary of a lawyer who won’t share their score sheet with you.)
Thanks to the fact that you do not pay a PI lawyer until you’ve won your case, you have an element of protection against being taken on by a lawyer who doesn’t have the experience to handle your situation. They won’t take on a case they can’t win, because if they don’t win, they don’t get paid.
My advice? Find a lawyer who not only has specific experience dealing with situations like yours but also understands both sides. You need someone who is able to get into the mindset of the defense, usually an insurance company.
A new lawyer just out of school, or a junior member of a very large firm might not, despite the existence of more senior members, have that knowledge. Working with a smaller firm ensures you will be working directly with the lawyer who will be representing you, and to whom you can address all of your questions, knowing that they aren’t having to check with someone else before answering!
Finding the right lawyer to represent you is among the first and most important steps you will take in managing your injury file, so take a little time and do a little research to see who will be best for your case. For more information, feel free to drop me a line or leave a comment below…