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What Exactly Does a Personal Injury Attorney Do?


    If you’ve been injured in an accident and another person or party was at fault, one of the first things you should do is consult a personal injury attorney. You may be entitled to damages, and a good lawyer will help you navigate the complexities of the legal system, ensuring you receive the maximum compensation warranted by your injuries.

    Do You Have a Case?

    Before getting in touch with insurance companies or filing a lawsuit, an attorney will have to figure out exactly what happened and determine whether you have a claim for damages. This may involve obtaining witness statements, photos, and police reports to figure out how the incident occurred and establish who is at fault. You may need to provide medical records, bills, proof of employment and missed work, and other documentation to help your attorney calculate how much money you should be awarded for both economic and non-economic losses. Your lawyer will also make sure you are within the statute of limitations for filing a lawsuit in your state.


    Beginning Insurance Negotiations

    Generally, coming to a settlement is the desired outcome for both the injured party and the insurance company involved. This eliminates the higher legal fees, prolonged timeline, and uncertain outcome associated with a trial. But insurance companies do not part with their money easily. They may come to you with a settlement offer early on, and you may be tempted to accept it without bothering to consult with a lawyer. This is a mistake. You need an attorney to calculate past, present, and future damages stemming from the accident and come up with a number that’s fair to you. Armed with this knowledge, your lawyer will solicit an offer, then negotiate with the insurance company and hopefully come to an agreement that’s acceptable for both parties.


    Filing a Lawsuit

    Sometimes, the insurance company just isn’t willing to offer the amount of damages you and your attorney believe you should receive. If that happens, your lawyer will file a personal injury complaint, the first document in a court case. The next step will be to serve the plaintiff or plaintiffs with the complaint, ensuring that they are aware of the lawsuit and the date they should appear in court.


    In the pre-trial “discovery” phase, your lawyer will be responsible for deposing witnesses, tracking down and consulting experts who may be helpful to your case, and coordinating with the plaintiff’s attorney to make sure both sides have access to evidence and witness information. Throughout the discovery process, both sides may have to appear in court every so often to update the judge on progress, discuss arbitration and mediation, and set a trial date. More often than not, a trial never happens — the parties agree to settle before that point. A settlement agreement can happen at any point during the discovery process. Alternatively, the defendant may ask the judge to throw out the case due to “summary judgment,” meaning they believe the plaintiff does not have enough evidence to win.


    Discovery is over, the two sides are too far away to come to an agreement, and the judge has not thrown out the case. It’s time to go to trial. If it’s a jury trial, your lawyer will take part in jury selection. Whether it’s a judge or jury deciding the case, it’s your attorney’s job to represent your interests and argue your side, while following all court customs and procedures.


    If you’ve been hurt in an accident and it’s someone else’s fault, don’t attempt to represent yourself. The personal injury lawyers at Johnson Law Firm not only know the law inside and out, they go above and beyond to help their clients win the full compensation they deserve.