Personal Injury Lawyer
Personal injury (PI) attorneys are legal experts who specialize in Tort Law. This involves plaintiffs/clients who claim they have been wronged physically or psychologically by a negligent party. The PI acts as the civil litigator and legally represents people who have been harmed in some capacity by a person, business or entity.
A Personal injury lawyer exclusively practices in the area of tort law, which covers civil cases where an individual was wronged as well as breaches of contract. The ultimate purpose is to help that person be compensated fairly and to hopefully prevent the problem from occurring again. For example, a drunk driver runs a red light and injures someone. The injured person would hire a personal injury attorney in the effort of seeking justice and compensation from the drunk driver for the wrongdoing they have experienced.
Common reasons for compensation include loss of the ability to work, medical expenses, pain and suffering, emotional distress and more. Another area that PI attorneys operate in is the protection from unfair insurance practices against victims.
Types of Cases
– Medical Malpractice
– Animal Bite Injuries
– Bicycle, Boating, Auto Accidents
– Defective Products
– Aviation Accidents
– Insurance/Bad Faith Claims
– Wrongful Death
– Slip and Fall Accidents
– Motorcycle Accidents
– Pedestrian Accidents
– Nursing Home Abuse
Functions of Personal Injury Attorneys
Many of the duties of a PI attorney are similar to most other lawyers when it comes to investigating claims, interviewing and deposing witnesses, creating legal theories, collecting evidence, drafting pleadings, motions and discovery requests. However, PI attorneys have responsibilities outside of trail preparation such as ensuring their clients are taken care of and not hindered in any way during the trial process. They serve as advocates and make sure to legally shield their clients since personal injury cases can be life-changing and extremely emotional.
PI attorneys are for the most part very busy and handle several cases at the same time. The job can be demanding and it can be difficult dealing with certain clients and this is understandable as tensions are high. Through all of this, PI attorneys have a passion to help people seek justice and that is the most rewarding aspect of the profession for many.
Personal injury law encompasses a variety of complex areas and it is not ideal for an attorney to spread themselves too thin. This is why most specialize in one category and some even go further to specific cases only. For example, a PI attorney may focus on Medical Malpractice with a keen focus on informed consent cases. The medical malpractice area could be too broad and it may be more efficient for the attorney to only accept cases where a medical professional is suspected of breaching consent.
Education for PI attorneys are the same for all other attorneys. They are required to earn an undergraduate degree, pass the Law School Admission Test (LSAT), work towards a law degree and successfully complete written bar exams. There are some certifications for specialties available in certain states.
Some states also require PI attorneys to pass the Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination (MPRE) with additional training courses. The MPRE makes sure the attorney is fully aware of their professional behavior, especially towards vulnerable and injured clients.
Personal injury attorneys are expected to deal with difficult and uncomfortable situations while prioritizing the well-being of their client. Great ones are solid communicators and excellent negotiators. They advocate for their client at all times and ensure legal proceeding go as planned without anything unexpected getting in the way.
Experienced PI attorneys generally do not charge their clients straight away and rather wait until the case comes to a close. They usually receive a percentage of the plaintiff’s compensation, around 30-40%. New PI attorneys are encouraged to start off with a law firm before starting their own practice, so that they can learn how the system operates.
Cases accepted on a contingency basis are risky for the attorney because it depends on them winning in order to get paid. It can also take years for a case to reach a conclusion. Therefore, attorneys must take on smaller cases in order to make a living. Time management is a crucial factor in determining productivity and success.
Top PI attorneys are self-aware of how much they can handle and turn down new cases if current ones prove to be most time-sensitive. They ensure that their workload does not interfere with client care as they are the main focus.