More people, more distractions, and more technology predictably mean more accidents, injuries, and injury victims. Everyone’s likelihood of suffering a personal injury is increasing, and sometime in the future, you may have a reason to retain a personal injury attorney.
What are the “personal” injuries that trigger lawsuits? Will you need to hire a lawyer to seek compensation for you if you are injured by someone who was negligent? If you’ll keep reading, you will learn the answers to those questions – and more about the rights of the injured.
WHAT KINDS OF INJURIES CAN GENERATE PERSONAL INJURY LAWSUITS?
Injuries arising from traffic accidents generate perhaps the largest number of personal injury cases, but anyone can be injured on a boat, a bus, a plane, a train, or by a negligent driver while you’re merely walking down the sidewalk.
Slip- or trip-and-fall injuries also generate plenty of personal injury claims. If you slip, fall, and you’re injured at a theater, restaurant, hotel, or anywhere on private property, and a property owner’s or manager’s negligence is the reason you were injured, you may have a claim.
You often see product liability cases in the news. You’ll probably need a personal injury lawyer if you are injured using a defectively designed consumer item – anything from a kitchen utensil to a prescription drug. Big corporations – no surprise here – are difficult to prevail against.
Personal injury claims can also be pursued by the injured victims of dog bites, swimming pool accidents, nursing home abuse, and work-related injuries ranging from mesothelioma to carpal tunnel syndrome.
DO YOU NEED A LAWYER’S HELP WITH A PERSONAL INJURY CLAIM?
Technically and truthfully, here in the state of Georgia, there is no legal requirement to have a lawyer represent you if you file a personal injury claim. You are allowed to handle your personal injury claim on your own in this state if that is what you choose to do.
What you must consider first is this question: Will you be comfortable handling a personal injury claim by yourself? Will you feel comfortable doing legal research, compiling evidence, talking with insurance adjusters, and maybe even negotiating with insurance company attorneys?
If you feel comfortable doing that kind of work, then you may not want an attorney simply to take the matter “off your plate.” You will spend a great deal of time with an attorney, and yes, at the end of the process – should you prevail – there will be an attorney’s fee to pay.
WHAT SHOULD YOU CONSIDER WHEN DECIDING TO HIRE A LAWYER?
Still, even after you pay an attorney’s fee, an attorney will probably be able to negotiate a more lucrative settlement for you than you will be able to negotiate on your own. Even if you’re comfortable handling your own personal injury claim, is that the best way to handle it?
You will have to determine whether having an attorney handle your claim adds value to or subtracts value from your claim. Quite frankly, if your injuries are not very serious, an attorney may not be able to add value to your claim. Not every personal injury case requires a lawyer.
Still, if you handle a personal injury claim yourself, you will need to know the details of the law, how it applies in your own case, how liability for accidents and injuries is determined in Georgia, and you can’t let yourself be intimidated by a big insurance company and its sharp attorneys.
WHAT’S THE COST TO SPEAK WITH A PERSONAL INJURY ATTORNEY?
If handling your own case isn’t the best way to go, or if you’re uncomfortable handling your own claim – there’s your answer. And in Georgia, if you are injured by someone else’s negligence, you’ll need to discuss your case – at once – with an experienced Atlanta personal injury attorney.
Personal injury lawyers offer the injured victims of negligence a free first legal consultation – with no obligation. Whether or not you actually need an attorney’s help is one of the topics that you may want to raise in that consultation. A good attorney will help you make the best decision.
When you retain a personal injury lawyer, you’ll work together, perhaps for months, and you will be committing to a relationship that will require work and trust for both you and your attorney. Always be upfront, forthright, and honest with your personal injury attorney.
IF YOU HIRE AN INJURY ATTORNEY, WHAT SHOULD YOU EXPECT?
Tell your lawyer the truth about how you were injured – and about anything else that may be pertinent to your injury claim. Whether it’s a pre-existing injury or medical condition, an old felony conviction, or anything else that might emerge in the case, tell your lawyer right up front.
If you choose to work with a particular injury attorney, you should also choose to heed that attorney’s recommendations.
For example, if your attorney sets up an appointment for you with a medical specialist, keep the appointment. When you pay for sound, experienced legal advice, you need to take advantage of your attorney’s insights and experience and follow that advice.
While your personal injury claim is pending, you must stay in touch with your personal injury attorney. Tell your lawyer at once if you relocate, change jobs or phone numbers, or get married. If you absolutely must cancel an appointment, call your lawyer at least 24 hours in advance.
WHAT WILL A GOOD INJURY ATTORNEY DO ON YOUR BEHALF?
The best personal injury lawyers get to work promptly. Time is critical in personal injury cases because, over time, evidence deteriorates and witnesses forget. A good personal injury lawyer will negotiate aggressively on a client’s behalf for the compensation a client needs and deserves.
About ninety percent of the personal injury claims in Georgia are resolved out-of-court. Personal injury attorneys are trained, experienced negotiators, but your injury attorney should also have plenty of successful trial experience.
If no acceptable settlement offer is forthcoming in the private negotiations, an experienced Atlanta personal injury attorney may recommend taking your case to trial and asking a jury to order the payment of the compensation you’re seeking.
The choice to hire an attorney or handle a personal injury claim on your own is yours alone. It is an important decision that may determine your health and affect you and your family for years to come. An attorney’s help is your right, and a good attorney will help you make the right choices.