Personal injuries can leave a victim with severe consequences, such as high medical bills, lost wages, and long-term pain and suffering. A serious injury often leaves victims unable to work for a long period of time, and their incomes are often impacted even after they return to work. If you’ve been injured in a motor vehicle accident, product liability case, workplace accident, or medical malpractice issue, it is imperative to seek the proper legal representation so you can get the compensation you need. Here is everything you need to know about finding a personal injury lawyer, including specialization, benefits of hiring a lawyer, and what to look for in a potential legal team.
Types of Personal Injury Cases
Personal injury law is expansive and covers a number of different types of injuries. The most common types of personal injury cases include:
1. Motor Vehicle Injuries
Nearly every American will experience a minor car crash at some point in their lifetime.
However, many factors, including age, driving habits, and location, can impact your likelihood of getting seriously injured in an accident. Motor vehicle injuries can stem from several different types of collisions, including car, bicycle, motorcycle, commercial truck, ridesharing vehicles and pedestrian accidents.
In 2019, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that there were over 6 million motor vehicle accidents in the U.S. that caused thousands of injuries and over 36,000 deaths. Considering this data, it is easy to understand why car accident injuries are among the most common types of personal injuries.
It is often a good idea to seek help from a lawyer after a car accident, even if your injuries are minor. It is important to capture the proper evidence and investigate the circumstances regarding the accident to build the strongest case possible. Your legal team may help you establish liability and negotiate with the other party’s insurance company. Your lawyer also knows how much compensation you should receive and can help you decide whether filing a civil lawsuit in your local court system is necessary.
2. Premise Liability Cases
Certain U.S. states require property owners to maintain a premise that is free of hazards. Owners must keep their home, business, or land and properly notify guests of any potential risks that may cause injuries. The level of liability for the property owner varies depending on whether it is a private residence or a business that is open to the public.
The most common types of premise liability cases include:
- Slip and fall injuries
- Negligent security
- Faulty wiring
- Swimming pool injuries
However, this is not a comprehensive list of premise liability cases. You may have a claim if a home or business owner’s negligence directly leads to your injuries. Contacting a lawyer can help you understand if the property owner is liable to pay damages in your case.
3. Product Liability
Federal and state governments place regulations on businesses and consumer products to ensure the safety of consumers. However, defective products are still making their way to the market. If you believe you’ve been injured by a defective product, you have the right to seek legal representations. A lawyer may help you determine whether the individuals that designed, manufactured, or sold the defective product are responsible. Faulty product injuries are among the least common personal injury cases so ensure your legal team has experience in this area. Occasionally, multiple parties can share liability.
Take a look at our pages for particular product lawsuits:
4. Medical Malpractice
Medical professionals are often portrayed in the media and academia as individuals who can do no wrong. However, doctors are just as prone to making errors as people in other professions. Unfortunately, an error may result in a debilitating injury. Medical professionals are obligated to provide an adequate standard of care, and you may have grounds for compensation if that standard is not met.
Proving liability in a medical malpractice case is complicated, and you should seek the help of a lawyer. Medical negligence covers many actions, including improperly prescribing drugs, anesthesia errors, misdiagnoses, and surgical errors. A medical negligence lawyer will know how to navigate these highly technical cases so you can focus on recovering.
5. Workers’ Compensation
Unfortunately, workplace injuries are common in construction, shipping, and manufacturing industries. Your employer must maintain a safe work environment by providing the proper training and resources to perform your jobs accurately. Despite efforts, the National Safety Council reports that workplace injuries caused the U.S. economy more than $171 billion in 2019. This figure includes losses associated with productivity, medical expenses, and damage to equipment and property.
It is good to talk with a lawyer if you’ve been injured in the workplace. There are many laws associated with those receiving workers’ compensation. Some states do not let victims file claims if they receive workers’ compensation. Talk with your lawyer, so you understand the best option to receive the compensation you deserve.
6. Physical or Sexual Assault Cases
Victims of physical or sexual assault have the right to file a civil case against the perpetrator. While criminal charges are often filed in physical and sexual assault cases, victims can seek compensation through the civil court system.
Filing a civil case may entitle you to receive compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, and long-term pain and suffering. Assault cases are often challenging to prove and can cause the victim a great deal of anxiety. Hiring a sympathetic lawyer is essential to hold the offender accountable and receive the support you need.
Benefits of Hiring a Personal Injury Lawyer
There are many advantages of hiring an attorney to help you seek compensation when you’ve been injured, particularly if you’ve suffered a debilitating injury. Here are the main benefits of working with a legal professional:
1. Attorneys Understand the Legal Process
Navigating the complex legal system is a challenge for anyone, and it is almost impossible for those recovering from injuries. Working with insurance companies and filing the proper paper after a personal injury is complicated. Hiring a legal professional knowledgeable about navigating local and federal personal injury laws can help ensure your interests are protected.
2. Lawyers Negotiate on Your Behalf
Negotiating with an insurance company is daunting, particularly if you do not understand how much money you need to cover your medical bills. Insurance companies often take advantage of unsuspecting injury victims by initially offering a low-ball settlement. Victims who are in desperate need of money may accept a low offer without understanding the actual costs of their future medical care.
Working with an attorney transfers the burden of negotiating with insurance adjusters from you to your legal team. Lawyers understand the tactics used by insurance companies and can arrange for a fair settlement on your behalf so you can focus on recovering.
3. Attorneys Can Represent You at Trial
It is often necessary to take personal injury cases to trial if the insurance company does not offer a fair settlement. Negotiations with the other party occur throughout the trial process, and settlements are often reached before the case goes to trial. Keep in mind that a judge may not render a decision in your case, even if you file a civil lawsuit. However, showing the insurance company that you are willing to file a court case may persuade them to make a fair settlement. If this is not the case, your attorney can build your case and represent you if the claim goes to trial.
How To Choose the Best Personal Injury Lawyer
You should not take the decision to hire a personal injury lawyer lightly. Working with a legal professional who understands your needs is a top priority when recovering. To determine whether a lawyer is right for you, make an appointment to discuss your case and the ways of resolving it. Bring copies of your medical records and all correspondence with your insurance company. Also, bring police reports, medical bills, and income loss verification if applicable.
Some lawyers charge a consultation fee to review your case details, while some provide free consultations. A lawyer charging a fee should not necessarily dissuade you from seeking their services. Often the best lawyers have a lot of clients and need to set small consultation fees to make a profit. However, newer lawyers trying to gain clients and experience may offer free consultations.
Once you’ve made an appointment with a lawyer, you should consider a few things before making a decision. Think about the following factors before retaining a legal team:
1. General Experience
After describing the basic details of your case, you will want to ask the attorney a few basic questions, including:
- How long has the lawyer been practicing personal injury law?
- Does the attorney only take personal injury cases, or does the team also accept other types of cases?
- Does the attorney most often represent defendants or plaintiffs? Some lawyers have lots of experience representing defendants but not as much with plaintiffs. Thus, their thinking may align with insurance companies, and they may not have as much sympathy for injury victims.
- Ask your lawyers what duties they will directly handle. Will the attorney work on your case personally or pass it to another lawyer or paralegal in the office? It is common for less experienced attorneys in an office to handle routine tasks such as conducting research and drafting correspondence. You may want to ask to meet with any team members who will also complete tasks in your case.
This is not a comprehensive list of questions you should ask an attorney. Compile a list of questions before your appointment and let those questions guide the conversation. Not every lawyer will check every box. While you should consider the overall experience, also think about how your personalities align. Do the attorneys make you feel heard, or do they dismiss your concerns? Select a firm you feel will best represent your interests.
2. Settlement Goal
After discussing the attorney’s experience, you should ask how much you think your case is worth. While many attorneys are reluctant to discuss details until they investigate the case, it is helpful to bring up the topic early. Be wary of attorneys who promise too much too soon. Some firms make big promises to hook clients that are unrealistic.
You should discuss the following details with your lawyer about your settlement goals early in the process:
- Discuss your desired timeframe to receive your compensation. While some payouts can take months, having an expectation upfront is helpful, particularly if you have mounting medical bills.
- Discuss the extent of your medical bills and how much your future medical bills may cost. Consider the expense of surgery, medications, in-home health care, and rehabilitation.
- Discuss if you prefer to negotiate with the insurance company or take the case to court.
- Talk about the minimum amount of money you are willing to accept.
- Discuss retainer fees and if the lawyer receives a percentage of the final settlement package.
If you are comfortable with your lawyer’s level of experience and feel confident in the plan for your claim, chances are you’ve found a good match for your personal injury claim.
Also, keep in mind that it is imperative to maintain open communication with your legal team throughout the process. Attorneys get busy and have other cases to manage, but make sure you check in via email or phone once a week to check the progress. Forward any new medical documents or accident reports once you receive them to ensure your legal team has the most up-to-date information.
Other FAQ for Personal Injury Lawyers
What Defines Personal Injury?
“Personal injury” is a legal term that refers to the harm a person suffers caused by another person or entity. Personal injury law, also known as tort law, can cover a wide range of injuries that may cause physical, emotional, or psychological harm to the victim. The purpose of personal injury law is to help a victim seek compensation for the damages he or she has suffered.
Generally, personal injury cases are based on the careless or negligent actions of an at-fault party. Personal injury legislation can vary from state to state and the differences may affect the amount of compensation a victim receives. Procedural requirements may also differ depending on the circumstances of your personal injury case. Due to the complex laws that govern personal injury claims, it is highly recommended to consult with an experienced personal injury lawyer who can explain your rights.
If a person has been injured by another party, he or she may be entitled to file a personal injury claim to recover compensation for medical bills and other damages. Most personal injury claims are resolved through a settlement agreement between the parties or with an insurance company. If an agreement cannot be reached, the victim may choose to file a civil lawsuit with the courts.
Is Personal Injury the Same as Negligence?
Put simply, while personal injury and negligence are interrelated – they are not the same. Personal injury refers to the harm a person suffers due to the actions of another person or entity. Negligence refers to a careless act, or the failure to act, that led to a person’s injuries. The relationship is similar to cause and effect; negligence is the cause and personal injury is the effect.
Not all personal injury claims are caused by negligence, yet negligence is the most common basis for personal injury cases. Each state has its own laws that define how to compare the negligence of each party involved and how to calculate the amount of compensation to be awarded.
The State of New York follows the pure comparative negligence law. This means that an injured person can claim compensation for his or her injuries even when sharing a portion of the fault. Yet, the amount of compensation will be reduced in proportion to the amount of fault shared. This is quite different from other states where they can bar any compensation if an injured person shares fault beyond a certain threshold.
What Area of Law is Personal Injury?
Personal injury falls under the area of tort law. Tort law applies to wrongful acts or infringements on rights that cause injury to another person. The injured party can file a civil, or tort, claim or lawsuit to recover compensation for damages suffered.
Tort law can cover a wide range of personal injuries. There are 3 main types of tort law:
- Injuries caused by negligent actions, such as a car accident
- Injuries caused by intentional actions, such as nursing home abuse
- Injuries caused by strict liability, such as by a defective product
The majority of personal injury claims are usually based on negligence. There are different ways of handling cases of negligence and the laws can vary from state to state. Below is an explanation of the three rules commonly applied to negligence cases in the United States.
Pure comparative negligence
New York is one of the states that applies the pure comparative negligence rule. This rule allows a person to recover damages even if he or she shares up to 99 percent of the fault for what occurred. In other words, the amount awarded for damages will be reduced according to the proportion of fault assigned to you.
Modified contributory negligence
This is the most common approach used in many states. This rule calculates the compensation amount in relation to the percentage of fault shared by both parties. If the amount of fault exceeds the set threshold, either 50 or 51 percent (varies with each state) the injured party is barred from receiving compensation.
Pure contributory negligence
Pure contributory negligence is a very strict approach to handling personal injury cases. If an injured person shares any fault for the accident, then that person is barred from recovering any compensation at all.
What Are the Most Common Types of Personal Injury Claims?
Accidents happen on a daily basis, often due to the negligence of another person. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, unintentional injury deaths were the fourth-leading cause of death in the United States in 2020.
Personal injuries may arise from various types of situations. The following is a list of the most common types of personal injury claims.
Motor vehicle accidents
Auto accidents are one of the most common personal injury cases. Motor vehicle accidents may include cars, trucks, motorcycles, or bicycles. If you were a driver, passenger, or pedestrian who was injured in an auto accident, you can pursue compensation for your injuries.
If you suffer an injury to a slip-and-fall at a property owned by another person, you may be able to seek compensation by means of a premises liability claim.
When a healthcare practitioner causes injury or death to a patient due to negligence, the victim or his or her family may pursue legal action through a medical malpractice claim.
Construction site accidents
Whether you were working onsite or a pedestrian walking by, if you were injured at a construction site, you may be eligible to file a claim for your injuries.
If you were hurt by a defective product, you may have a solid basis for a claim against the product manufacturer, distributor, or retailer for any harm suffered.
If a person suffers a fatal injury due to the negligent or careless actions of another party, the surviving family may file a wrongful death lawsuit.
How Do I Know If I Have a Personal Injury Claim?
If a person is injured at the hands of another party, it can be an extremely overwhelming experience if you don’t know your legal rights. Personal injury law is complicated and specific evidence is required when filing a claim.
To pursue compensation, the injured victim will need to prove the at-fault party acted negligently. You should seek legal advice from a seasoned personal injury lawyer to find out what information is required to prove your side of the story.
In the State of New York, the following 4 elements must be established to prove a person acted negligently or carelessly:
- Duty: The defendant owed a duty of care to the plaintiff. The duty is a standard of care or responsibility one person has to avoid causing harm to another.
- Breach: The defendant breached this duty of care by failing to meet the standard of care that is legally required.
- Causation: The defendant’s actions, or inaction, caused the plaintiff’s injuries.
- Damages: The injuries caused by the defendant’s negligence led to monetary damages.
When these factors are established, the victim has a solid basis to file a personal injury claim and seek compensation for his or her injuries.
What is the Statute of Limitations for Personal Injury?
The statute of limitations in your area legally places a time limit on your right to file a personal injury claim. For instance, the State of New York imposes a 3-year limit for filing most types of personal injury cases. This means a victim must submit the initial documentation within 3 years of the date of the incident that caused his or her injuries.
However, you should be aware that there are different time limits for each type of personal injury case. Take medical malpractice and government claims, for example.
In New York, the statute of limitations for a medical malpractice case is 2 years and 6 months from the date of malpractice, from the end of treatment provided by the at-fault party or entity, or from the time the victim should have been aware of the mistreatment that occurred within 7 years.
Cases against New York government employees
If an injured person wants to file a claim against a municipal or state entity, he or she must give 90 days’ notice informing that entity of the intent to file a personal injury claim in New York. Meanwhile, the legal action itself must commence within 1 year and 90 days from the date of the incident.
Failure to submit the appropriate documents before the statute of limitations expires means you may lose your right to seek compensation for your injuries altogether. You must seek legal counsel as soon as possible to ensure your claim is filed within the required time constraints.
Do I Need a Personal Injury Lawyer?
Injury disrupts the lives of personal injury victims and their families. Some may try to navigate through the complex litigation of personal injury claims on their own. They may do so while juggling their healthcare and financial needs, further straining themselves and their busy schedules.
At times, tackling the legal system on your own may hinder your progress in seeking fair compensation. Seasoned insurance adjusters may take advantage of your inexperience and vulnerability by making low-ball offers that may not even cover your damages. We don’t want insurance companies to undervalue your medical needs and suffering.
Having an experienced attorney advocating for your rights can give you the peace of mind that comes from knowing you have someone fighting for you, not against you. When Judd Shaw Injury Law takes on your case, you know that we are committed to helping you and your family get the maximum amount of compensation available.
Our personal injury lawyers have the necessary experience and resources to build a strong case for you so your rights are protected. Each member of our legal team is guided by a set of core values that defines every action we take on behalf of our clients. We call it the Judd Shaw Way.
Judd Shaw Injury Law firm provides New York and New Jersey residents with quality legal representation without the worry of paying out-of-pocket costs.
When Should I Contact a Personal Injury Lawyer?
If you have been hurt by the negligence of another person, you should contact a personal attorney right away. You may be facing a long road ahead of difficult recovery. While you are dealing with pain and suffering, mental anguish, and worrying about losing your job, the last thing you want to do is fight with insurance companies, employers, or the negligent parties involved in your case.
Proving negligence is often difficult and requires evidence to back up your side of the story. The other party will challenge your claim and hire legal representation of their own. If you are at home recovering from an accident, you should leave this fight up to someone who will be in your corner every step of the way, fighting for your right to receive compensation.
Personal injury attorneys have extensive knowledge and experience with personal injury cases. As such, we have the resources and know-how necessary to collect evidence, communicate with the other parties, and negotiate a fair settlement on your behalf.
Work With Judd Shaw Injury Law
Are you ready to work with an attorney to seek compensation in your personal injury case? When you need a legal team you can trust, look no further than Judd Shaw Injury Law™. We have offices in New Jersey, and our team of injury attorneys will fight to protect your rights during the entire process. Don’t wait any longer to seek the help you need for your car accident, workplace injury, or product liability claim. Contact us right now to set up a no-obligation consultation or call 1-866-909-6894.