Personal injury attorneys in Mississippi and all over the country are often wrongly branded “ambulance chasers.” That is, they hang around until a person has been injured and needs help with a personal injury claim and “chase” cases.
The myth of the ambulance chaser refers to lawyers who set up shop close to emergency rooms, giving out business cards to injured individuals. There is the perception that these lawyers only care about chasing a fee and not about its clients. Is it true? Sometimes yes, sometime no.
The proverbial bad eggs exist in every profession. One thing is clear; no respected, successful attorney will resort to sleazy tactics to make a fee or to get a case. This often unjustified myth is based on fly-by-night lawyers looking for a quick buck and uninterested in the rights of their clients. Clients need to get to know their lawyers and avoid these types.
Ethical and Successful
Successful lawyers take the long-term view. They work hard to earn a reputation for ethical, professional behavior. They fight for their clients. They take seriously their commitment to represent people who have been injured (physically or mentally) due to another person’s actions. They fight hard for the rights of each client and get them fair compensation for what they have been through.
What Does a Personal Injury Claims Attorney Do?
If a good personal injury lawyer doesn’t hang out at the emergency room, what do they do all day? How do they handle cases for their clients? What’s the process?
A lawyer interviews a client who comes with an injury. Each case is evaluated for its legal merits; the specific legal issues at the core of the problem are identified. If the attorney decides there’s a viable case, a series of steps are initiated to get it started and later resolved.
These steps may include:
- Gather the facts of the case from the client and others involved.
- Take witness statements.
- Hire investigators.
- Talk with medical experts.
- Discuss with case with the insurance company and its adjusters.
- Put together a settlement package, if applicable.
- Open negotiations.
- Litigate every case like it will be tried before a jury.
- Aggressively litigate the file to obtain the best possible result.
Here is a closer look at each step.
Gathering the Facts
Research is at the heart of every case and starts immediately. An expert personal injury lawyer knows the need to investigate every aspect of the problem. This means finding out the basic facts of the case, including any insurance policies involved as well as talking to potential witnesses and investigators. Extensive research is done into the damages that are a direct result of the injury to the client and his or her family, which may include hiring medical experts, economists, and life care planners.
There are many types of damages, not just broken bones or totaled cars. Specific types of damages can involve:
- Lost wages
- Economic damages
- Past, present, and future medical bills
- Property damage
- Emotional distress
- Pain and suffering
- Permanent disability, disfigurement, and scarring
Putting Together A Settlement
With this data in hand including expert reports, the lawyer puts together a claim or settlement package based on the damages incurred. This is presented to the insurance adjusters at the insurance company involved. The insurance company is often given thirty (30) days to respond before a lawsuit is filed.
Negotiation and/or Trial
After the adjuster looks over the case, the insurance company usually offers to settle. Will this opening offer always be enough? Probably not; however, personal injury claims attorneys are skilled in the art of negotiation. They have the experience and training to get a fair award. They understand how claims are valued and the best ways to maximize the value of a claim.
If a settlement isn’t worked out, the attorney obtains a trial setting and litigates the case as it will be tried to verdict to a jury. This doesn’t mean there is always a trial. Many times, the insurance company will settle before then, often times just days before the trial is set to begin. Having said that, it is most valuable to have an experienced personal injury lawyer who is willing to expend the time, effort, and costs to litigate a file and willing to try the case.
It does take time; however, eventually after a settlement is reached, the insurance company sends the representing attorney the settlement check. This is put in a trust account. Law office expenses and fees are determined, any liens against the settlement are handled, and the rest is disbursed to the client.
The most successful personal injury lawyers are driven by the desire to help their clients. They are principled, determined, and expertly trained. Made the choice to fight for yourself by asking an experienced criminal defense team to fight for you!
‘Maggio & Thompson, LLP
174 West Center Street
Canton MS 39046