WHAT IS THE ROLE OF A PERSONAL INJURY LAWYER?
Jan. 17, 2016
Personal injury lawyers are civil litigators who represent clients – commonly referred to as plaintiffs – alleging psychological or physical injury as result of negligence or careless acts by another person, company, entity, government agency or organization. Personal injury lawyers practice in an area known as tort law. This area of law specializes in civic or private wrongs or injuries, monetary or nonmonetary damages. This includes defamation and actions of bad faith or breach of contract to a person’s reputation, rights or property.
Although personal injury lawyers are armed with licenses to practice in all facets of law, they usually handle cases falling within tort law, such as work injuries, flawed products, accidents caused by slips and falls, road accidents and other related accidents. Personal injury lawyers help their clients secure compensation for losses incurred. These losses include the loss of capacity to earn, inability to perform normal duties, suffering, and pain. They also include expenses that may arise, the loss of companionship, legal costs, emotional distress and attorney fees.
The attorney will ensure clients are safe from being victimized by companies that offer insurance and the established legal system. Personal injury lawyers are often referred to as trial lawyers, although most of their cases are settled before going for a full trial.
What are the duties of a personal injury lawyer?
Personal injury lawyers have many duties in aiding their clients. These duties include both ethical and professional codes of conduct and rules provided for by the associations that license the lawyers. Once the state bar association licenses them to practice law, the lawyers can file complaints in court, argue cases, prepare legal documents and offer professional legal advice to plaintiffs of personal injury.
Personal injury lawyers have the sole responsibility for talking to and interviewing clients and assessing their cases. They further identify the pertinent issues within the client’s case, and thereafter conduct research to build a solid case. The most important professional mandate of a personal injury lawyer is to help clients obtain the compensation and justice they deserve after undergoing losses and suffering. This is done through client counseling, advocacy, legal advice and oral arguments. The case normally heads for trial when both parties fail to reach an amicable settlement.
Personal injury lawyers are expected to follow strict set principles of legal ethics when executing their mandate with clients. While the specified guidelines vary from state to state, each lawyer is expected to evaluate legal issues while exercising due diligence in any legal matter commenced. They owe plaintiffs the onus of confidentiality and allegiance as they work to protect their client’s best interests and not their own.
What are the credentials of a personal injury lawyer?
To successfully practice personal injury law, passing a written bar exam is mandatory in addition to a written ethics exam. These examinations vary from state to state. The majority of states require applicants to have a college degree and a law degree from an institution that is accredited. Non-accredited law schools have minimum set requirements before they are permitted to offer these courses.
As a prerequisite, most states require a Multistate Bar Examination (MBE), a Multistate Essay Examination, a Multistate Expert Responsibility Exam and a set state bar exam as a prerequisite. Other states incorporate a Multistate Performance Test as well.
Once qualified and admitted to the bar, they are required to keep abreast with the current development in their fields by continually taking legal education courses. These courses are designed to ensure that personal injury lawyers remain updated in law-related developments, with the number of required hours varying from state to state.
Personal injury lawyers tend to concentrate on specific areas of law. By specializing, they are able to amass the required knowledge and experience to take them to the top of their field. There is a special certification program that personal injury lawyers must complete before they are referred to as specialists. The American Bar Association is responsible for this certification. Although individual states regulate their own lawyers, they still adhere to rules of professional responsibility as stated in the United States Constitution.
These certification programs come with set standards of knowledge, competence and experience that must be attained before personal injury lawyers are called specialists.
Once personal injury lawyers pass the bar exam and are licensed, they can deviate to any specialty within the law profession. However, legal ethics demand that inexperienced lawyers should not represent a client without first enlisting help or learning the issue at hand. To provide the highest quality representation for their clients, most lawyers prefer sticking to a particular area of law, thereby dedicating all of their resources to this area. Within personal injury, a lawyer has a massive number of possible claims. These include accidents, product liability, medical malpractice, wrongful death, workplace injury and more. Some lawyers choose to go further and devote all of their energy and time to a single area of litigation in the personal injury law field, becoming very thorough and experienced at arguing specific types of cases such as work accidents, aviation accidents or medical mistakes.
What is the career makeup of a personal injury lawyer?
Personal injury lawyers are free to start private practice by themselves, join a midsize firm or opt for a large firm as an associate. They are also free to partner. The ones who enter private practice offer more individualized advantages to clients. These practitioners usually take on smaller cases and charge lower fees. In terms of numbers, small law firms usually have two to ten lawyers, midsized law firms have ten to fifty. Big law firms often have more than 50 lawyers.
How is a personal injury lawyers usually compensated?
Professional fees are based on a number of factors, including energy, time, outcome, difficulty, prominence, the experience of the lawyer, and the associated costs of the case. A lawyer may offer the plaintiff a number of payment options, including contingency fees, flat fees, hourly rates and retainers. The most common option is the contingency fee. This protects the client because payment is pegged on the success of the case. Here the lawyer receives a percentage of the awarded amount after a successful trial or settlement. The average mark is 30 percent of the awarded amount. An hourly charge is also a common option. This is where the plaintiff pays for every hour the lawyer represents them. A flat fee option is also available. A flat fee is paid prior to the commencement of the trial. Lastly, some options combine all or more than one of the above options.