If another person injured you in an accident, you might have heard that working with a personal injury lawyer can help you understand your rights. However, many people do not know what an injury lawyer looks for when deciding whether to accept a client and help them seek compensation for their injuries.
What Does a Personal Injury Lawyer Look for When Accepting a Client?
To Put it simply, a Good Match and an Opportunity to Provide Value to the claim. To find the right personal injury law firm for you, carefully evaluate the firm to ensure that it has the resources and experience necessary to handle your claim. During your initial consultation, you will have the opportunity to ask any questions you might have about the lawyer or the law firm. Asking questions will help you decide whether you want to work with that lawyer.
Similarly, the lawyer will use the consultation to determine whether your case is a good fit for the firm. They will consider two key elements during the initial consultation to decide whether the firm will accept you as a client.
Do you have grounds for a claim?
Before lawyers invest time and resources into preparing a case, they want to ensure that the claim is viable. In other words, the lawyer wants to know whether they have a chance to get you justice, money, or further compensation that you deserve. They may ask:
Did someone negligently injure you?
You must show that someone else caused your injuries to file a negligence claim. For example, if a car accident injured you, the negligent driver might have chosen to drink and drive, drive while distracted, speed, or fail to yield the right of way. In premises liability incidents, the liable party might not have repaired stairs or flooring properly or warned you about a hazard on the property.
A lawyer will first consider what act of negligence caused your injuries and whether the liable party owed you a duty of care at the time of the accident. For example, if you had a legal right to enter a property and suffered an injury due to the owner’s negligence, they might have violated their duty of care toward you.
To file an injury claim, you must have suffered some injury in the accident. Simple exposure to a difficult situation does not entitle you to compensation. However, injuries do not necessarily need to be physical to be compensable. You may choose, for example, to pursue compensation for emotional distress an accident caused.
Can a lawyer help you recover more compensation than if you handled the claim yourself?
A lawyer will most likely only work on a claim if they feel that they can offer a benefit to the client. For example, in some cases, a victim might already have a settlement offer that reflects the maximum compensation under a specific insurance policy. The lawyer might not feel that they can help the victim increase the offer in that scenario. As a result, the lawyer might choose not to accept that client. Likewise, if a lawyer feels that a victim can recover reasonable compensation without help, the lawyer may decline to take the case.
However, if you have questions about how much compensation you can recover from an accident or if you have any problems with the insurance company, you should not hesitate to talk to a lawyer about the claim and your rights. Lawyers look for clients who need their help and who will benefit from their services.
What Does a Personal Injury Lawyer Look For When Investigating a Claim?
Once a lawyer accepts a case, they may conduct an in-depth investigation. A personal injury lawyer will look into several critical details, from who caused the accident to what damages you sustained. They may investigate:
1. Who caused your accident?
Determining who caused your accident is critical in a personal injury claim. You and your lawyer must show whose actions caused your accident to succeed in a personal injury claim. As a result, your lawyer will carefully investigate who caused your accident.
- Visit the accident scene
- Review photos or videos from the accident
- Talk to witnesses
Additionally, your lawyer may want to investigate past incidents involving the at-fault party. Suppose, for example, that you slip and fall on hotel stairs due to wet, slippery floors. An in-depth investigation may reveal that the slippery stairs have posed a problem in the past and that other people have suffered similar injuries. That evidence may help strengthen your claim by showing that the hotel has failed to repair or maintain the stairs.
2. Did any additional factors contribute to your accident?
In some cases, more than one party may contribute to your accident. Suppose, for example, that you had a car accident involving a speeding pizza delivery driver. The delivery driver bears liability for their decisions behind the wheel, including the decision to speed.
Further investigation, however, may show that the pizza company has a dangerous policy that limits the amount of time the delivery driver can spend on the road for each delivery, even in poor weather conditions or heavy traffic. In that case, the company might share liability with its driver.
Likewise, suppose that you slipped and fell at a restaurant due to poorly-maintained flooring. While the restaurant may bear liability for failing to warn you about the slick floor, the building’s owner may also share liability for your injuries.
To help you recover compensation, your lawyer must identify all parties who share liability for your accident. When multiple parties are liable in an accident, the victim may be able to file an injury claim against each one. Sometimes, doing so can help increase the victim's compensation, especially in cases involving severe injuries or limited insurance policies.
3. What injuries did you sustain, and how have they affected your life?
Injuries change people’s lives physically, emotionally, and financially. To estimate how much compensation you need, your lawyer will ask many questions about how your injuries have affected your life, including:
How big are your medical bills?
A lawyer will want to know how many medical bills you have accumulated since your accident and what financial effect those medical bills have had on your life. Many people find that the medical bills associated with severe injuries rise faster than they initially anticipated, leaving them carrying a heavy financial burden.
Your lawyer can help you gather and review your medical bills to calculate what your medical treatment after the accident has cost. Additionally, your lawyer can help you estimate potential medical bills, including future procedures you may need.
How do your injuries limit you?
Severe injuries often bring substantial limitations, changing every area of your life. Many accident victims seek compensation for the pain and suffering they sustained because of their injuries, including the ongoing suffering they may have to contend with for the rest of their lives.
Have your injuries caused ongoing pain? Do you have long-term limitations from your injuries? Your lawyer may ask you to discuss these challenges so that you can receive compensation for them.
4. Can an expert witness provide additional insights into your case?
Many lawyers have a team of expert witnesses they call on when a case becomes complicated. These witnesses can offer valuable advantages in negotiations and court if needed. Common types of witnesses that lawyers may contact include:
Medical testimony can help establish that the accident caused your injuries and substantially limited your activities. A medical expert witness may testify that you have lifelong limitations from your accident, especially if the insurance company refuses to acknowledge the full extent of your injuries or limitations. They may also testify about the specific treatment you needed for your injuries and the medical necessity of that treatment.
Lawyers often bring in a field expert to help recreate the conditions that caused an accident. For example, the expert witness might examine the damage to two cars and recreate the conditions that led to the accident.
Do You Need a Personal Injury Lawyer After an Accident?
When someone else's negligence injures you, you need a lawyer on your side who will help you fight for the compensation you deserve. Lawyers can access the information you need, put together a comprehensive claim, and quickly identify the information required to move a claim forward.
Contact a personal injury lawyer to learn more about how they can seek compensation for you.