A Personal Injury Lawyer’s Job
As humans, we owe each other a duty to act reasonably toward one another. Unfortunately, people often breach that duty and injure others in the process. Drivers negligently operating vehicles, medical professionals not providing quality care, landlords renting unsafe homes, companies polluting water, and store owners not properly maintaining their premises often lead to injuries. Some injuries may be minor, but others are serious or even fatal.
Medical expenses and other costs necessary for an injury victim to return to normal life often cause extreme financial stress on top of the physical pain the victim experiences from their injuries. Victims may lose their ability to work and support their families or be unable to carry out household tasks. The cost of long-term therapy or rehabilitative care can weigh down those who are injured or even lead to an inability to access the care they desperately need.
The good news is that Nebraska law allows those who have been injured due to someone else’s fault the opportunity to recover monetary damages for their injuries through a personal injury lawsuit.
How Can a Personal Injury Attorney Help?
If you have been injured, you may be wondering if you need an attorney to help you file and resolve your lawsuit. The short answer is yes. Personal injury lawsuits are complicated and often involve multiple parties—the injured person, the person or entity directly responsible for the injuries, insurance companies, and maybe an employer or others more remotely responsible. Without a doubt those parties will have attorneys. Without your own attorney with a thorough knowledge of personal injury law, you will be at a serious disadvantage.
Filing Your Suit
In Nebraska, you have four years from the date of your injury to file a lawsuit. Four years might seem like a long time, but you should still speak with an attorney as soon as possible. The sooner you file your lawsuit, the sooner it can be resolved, and the sooner you will likely receive compensation for your injuries. If you miss the 4-year deadline, your case will be dismissed by the court and no matter how strong your claims are or how likely you would have been to win at a trial, you will be left with nothing.
Beyond filing your lawsuit within the statute of limitations, a competent attorney can help you determine who you should name as defendants. Again, these kinds of lawsuits often involve more than simply the injured party and the person directly responsible for that person’s injuries. Depending on the type of accident, you may have an auto insurance company as a defendant. Your own health insurance company may not be covering all it is required to pay for, and should also be named in your lawsuit.
Obviously, the person or company who caused your injury will be a party, but it may also be appropriate to join that person’s employer. In the case of a slip and fall, you may need to sue the company or person occupying the property as well as the property owner. Just like missing the statute of limitations deadline, suing the wrong party will result in the dismissal of your lawsuit, and potentially running you up against the filing deadline.
Negotiation, Negotiation, Negotiation
Most personal injury lawsuits are settled out of court and are never taken all the way to a jury trial. This makes having a skilled negotiator on your side critically important. While insurance companies are not inherently evil, they do have a vested financial interest in paying you as little as possible to settle your claim. A competent attorney will be able to evaluate any offer you receive and give you an idea about whether or not it is a reasonable offer. Of course, there’s no guarantee you will win at trial and certainly no guaranteed amount you’ll receive in damages, but an experienced personal injury lawyer should be able to give you an idea about whether you would likely get more if you took your case all the way to trial.
Personal injury lawsuits can settle at any point up to the time at which the jury has heard the evidence and begins deliberations. This makes ongoing negotiations a near guarantee. As your attorney discovers new information during their investigation of your case, they can use that information to strengthen your bargaining position with the defendant. A good personal injury attorney will always leave the door open for further negotiations. A defendant may find that they have a greater incentive to settle for a reasonable amount as they begin to see the evidence you have against them. Walking away from the negotiating table is very rarely a good move.
Taking Your Case to Trial
If negotiations fail and you decide not to accept a settlement offer, your case will proceed to a jury trial. This is certainly something you do not want to do on your own. A good litigator isn’t born that way. It takes training and practice to learn the skills necessary to be a competent trial attorney.
Conducting trials take a certain set of skills that not all attorneys possess. The personal injury attorney you hire needs to have a strong understanding of the rules of evidence, civil procedure, and personal injury law including any cases specific to your particular type of injury. They need to understand how to select and speak to jurors—breaking down complex medical information into language the jurors can understand and taking care to not alienate them while questioning witnesses.
When looking to retain an attorney to represent you in your personal injury lawsuit, look for someone who not only has trial experience, but experience in handling your particular kind of injury. Just as you wouldn’t seek medical care from a podiatrist for a heart issue, it would be foolish to choose an attorney who is unfamiliar with the area of law that governs your case.
Do You Still Have Questions? Ask a Personal Injury Attorney
Personal injuries can have dangerous and expensive consequences for the victim. Don’t face attempting to win your case without a competent attorney who focuses on personal injury. If you were injured and think a lawsuit may be a good idea for you, schedule a free consultation and case evaluation right away.