Accidents happen every day. Some accidents are minor and cause little or no harm, but others have devastating consequences. Accidents ranked fourth among the leading causes of death in Nebraska in 2017. Whether someone injured you intentionally or your injury resulted from a negligent act, you need to consult an attorney as soon as possible. You see ads for law firms everywhere, but how do you know who to call?
How to Find the Best Attorney for You
Most injury cases involve complex legal and medical issues. In addition to determining who is at fault, there are other pressing questions. How severe are your injuries? What is the long term impact on your life? What kind of care will you need going forward? How much will medical expenses cost and how will you pay for them?
Before calling the first attorney you find, consider your needs. Attorneys focus on certain areas of law, and you want someone experienced in your problem. In this case, you are looking for someone whose practice focuses on personal injury law. One place to start is to talk to people you trust who have had a positive experience with a personal law attorney. You can also ask a trusted lawyer whose practice is in another area of law, because lawyers and other professionals tend to know who is reputable.
Online research is another good place to start. Search for lawyers who handle personal injury cases, or similar cases to yours. Make sure online information is reliable. Look at client reviews. Watch out for lawyers whose knowledge of the law seems weak or do not provide written fee agreements.
Nebraska, like all states, has a bar association. The bar association maintains databases on licensed attorneys. You can confirm that a particular attorney is licensed and in good standing. There are also regional, county, district, and specialty bar associations that may offer useful resources.
After you’ve done some research and narrowed your list down, you should schedule an initial consultation. Many personal injury attorneys offer a free initial consultation. The initial consultation is your opportunity to learn more about the attorney and the law firm. However, another purpose is to allow the attorney an opportunity to learn more about your injury and the circumstances of your case. This information will help the attorney evaluate your case and advise you of your legal options. Based on those facts and circumstances, the attorney will advise you of possible courses of action.
Ask questions such as:
- How many cases like mine have you handled over the past several years?
- What were the results?
- What percentage of your practice is devoted to personal injury cases similar to mine?
- Would you be primarily responsible for my case, or will you be referring it to your staff or another law firm?
- Can you give me a general idea of the process?
- How are fees handled?
- Does your firm have the necessary financial resources to handle my case?
- Do you participate in any organizations related to my type of case?
Types of Personal Injuries
Personal injuries can happen under all kinds of circumstances; however, here are some of the common types of accidents and injuries:
- Car, motorcycle and truck accidents;
- Pedestrian accidents;
- Bicycle accidents;
- Catastrophic injuries
- Traumatic brain injuries;
- Spinal cord injuries;
- Medical accidents, such as birth injuries, incorrect diagnosis or failure to diagnose, surgical errors, anesthesia errors, emergency room errors and other forms of medical malpractice;
- Cell tower accidents;
- Slip and fall accidents, such as slipping and falling on wet or slippery spots, or unsafe stairs;
- Workplace accidents: including injuries caused by workplace machines or equipment, or work-related illnesses;
- Construction accidents;
- Railroad injuries;
- Ranch accidents;
- Wildfire property damage;
- Defective product accidents, including defective toys, dangerous cribs, defective drugs, defective medical devices, dangerous consumer products; and
- Animal bite accidents.
What Is a Personal Injury Lawsuit?
Most personal injury cases are based on negligence. If another person’s negligence caused your injuries, personal injury law allows you to recover compensation for your losses. Compensation differs from case to case, but it may include losses such as medical expenses, lost income, and pain and suffering.
Negligence is generally defined as “A failure to behave with the level of care that someone of ordinary prudence would have exercised under the same circumstances.”
Each state sets time limits for filing a personal injury lawsuit, known as the statute of limitations, so you should consult a personal injury attorney as soon as possible so that you do not miss an important deadline.
What Does a Personal Injury Lawyer Do?
Every personal injury case is unique. What a personal injury lawyer actually does depends on the facts of the case and its progress through the legal system. Even a case that seems straightforward may turn out to be complicated. Your attorney’s work may include:
Investigating Claims and Gathering Evidence
Many personal injury lawyers offer a free case evaluation. One of the early challenges is identifying who is responsible for the injury. Personal injury lawyers often take personal injury cases on a contingency fee basis, which means they do not charge attorney’s fees until after they have obtained a settlement or damages in court. Preparing and litigating a case can be expensive. However, a personal injury firm has the skills and resources necessary to gather evidence to support the victim’s claim. Evidence may include police reports, photos, video footage, witnesses, and expert testimony.
Negotiating With Insurance Companies
An attorney will review the terms of the insurance policy and determine the compensation that may be available. The lawyer will also handle all communications with the insurance company and negotiate on your behalf.
Preparing and Filing Legal Documents
If the insurance company does not agree to an acceptable settlement, the lawyer may draft a complaint and file a lawsuit in court. The complaint lists the facts supporting the claim, as well as the amount of damages requested. The case must be filed within the applicable statute of limitations.
The discovery process is a way for both sides to exchange information about the case. There are four main types of discovery. Interrogatories are written questions to be answered by the opposing party. A deposition is testimony recorded out of court. Requests for production require the opposing counsel to provide tangible for review. A request for admission is a factual statement, served on the other party, which is required to either admit, deny or object to the statement. After the attorneys complete the discovery process, they may be able to negotiate a settlement.
Representing Clients at Trial
If the case proceeds to trial, your personal injury lawyer will represent you in court to prove the facts of your case. Assuming the case is not settled during the trial, the process includes:
- Selecting a jury
- Making opening statements
- Examining and cross-examining witnesses
- Making closing arguments
- Knowledge of appropriate jury instructions
- Jury deliberation and verdict
If you or a loved one have suffered a personal injury, you may qualify to recover compensation. There are time limits for filing personal injury lawsuits, so consult a personal injury attorney right away. For more information or a free initial consultation, contact us online, or call (308) 633-4444.