Being a personal injury lawyer can involve taking the case to court and getting victims justifiable compensation. Personal injury law is a field where one has to be entrepreneurial and go out and sell yourself. It is also a job where you can have an impact on people’s lives. Many victims of personal injury accidents are thankful to their lawyers for their representation. It is not uncommon to see clients pick up the phone even after a decade of service to thank lawyers for their hard work. For them, the representation and damages produced from the case can help them go to college or buy a house of their own, and live comfortably despite an injury that paralyzes or debilitates.
Types of Personal Injury Cases
The cases can be slip and fall cases or automobile injuries sustained as a result of others’ negligence. It can also involve going to a jury trial. As a personal injury lawyer, one has the advantage such that they will not have to represent criminals. However, the cases can range from minor injuries to death, so as a personal injury lawyer, you have to be comfortable dealing with the consequences of injury. As a law student, personal injury law helps you get into the courtroom sooner than working in private practice where you may have to spend more time doing research. Personal injury law can be more rewarding as you could be arguing in front of an actual judge sooner than some of the other areas of the law. For some lawyers, this could happen just after a few days of being sworn in.
Negative Stereotype for a Personal Injury Lawyer: Ambulance Chasers
This is not to say that personal injury lawyers aren’t always criticized. Sometimes, lawyers practicing personal injury law are portrayed as ambulance chasers. This characterization is not true and is simply a stereotype. Personal injury lawyers work on a contingency fee and protect those that cannot get to a courtroom. Thus, this helps many victims who cannot afford legal representation as they do not have to pay for legal fees unless there is a successful outcome. Such victims then also benefit from the experience of personal injury lawyers, which comes from years of litigating cases in the courtroom. Hence, when an innocent plaintiff is up against a big corporate with deep pockets who can pay for the best lawyers in the country, it is a personal injury lawyer who gives a plaintiff the best chance of winning.
Therefore, personal injury lawyers are not ambulance-chasers, but rather very hard-working people often advising people for free. Many lawyers also take on a lot of risk in taking the case up to trial as if the jury gives an unfavorable verdict; the lawyer does not earn anything on that particular case. Personal injury lawyers allow the court system to be open to injured plaintiffs who would be refused legal help if this dynamic were not present. Often lawyers also pay for experts that can help prove the guilt in a case and give the family of the victim the much-needed compensation that will help take care of the family for the rest of their life. The payment for personal injury lawyers does not happen until the victim receives a verdict or a settlement. So a personal injury lawyer takes on a huge risk each time they agree to represent a client.
Tort Reform – Help by Personal Injury Lawyers
Many of these negative stereotypes come from misguided notions that personal injury lawyers drive up the business’s cost. This lie is often told by insurance lobbyists, to convince the public that companies are leaving states, and insurance premiums are going down because of personal injury lawyers. In reality, insurance premiums go up, and in a state with a cap on non-economic damages (pain, suffering), people have problems finding lawyers to represent them. This is because the amount of money that will be recovered is lower (capped at $250,000 to $500,000), and the risk is too high for attorneys to take on. Tort reform closes the door on those that need the court system the most as lawyers don’t want to take on cases where the recovery will be too low and the costs too high.
Because of personal injury lawyers, the door is not closed on innocent victims. This means helping a person with quadriplegia with three children successfully find compensation to educate their children. Often, this is the common man who can fight corporations because they have a personal injury lawyer’s services. Many of these people cannot find meaningful employment again in their lives because of their injury, and they need to be compensated justifiably. Also, it is not just the present-day medical bills, but many other bills in the future, such as surgeries in the future. All these interests are protected by personal injury lawyers when they litigate a case. Such people live with these injuries daily, and a personal injury lawyer has to be comfortable with analyzing injuries at home every day.
Working Long Hours for Personal Injury Lawyers
The pressure, gratification, and responsibility all come together in this field. You can have a client thanking you for a new life for their family, but you also have a lot of responsibility on your shoulders. A lot of times, an average day could revolve around a single trial, with many days exceeding twelve hours a day of legal work. Hence, it is crucial to be really in love with the field of personal injury, as these days will be long and hard. Also, you need to care about wanting to help someone who is injured. On days where there isn’t a trial, it is essential to get away from the field to refresh your mind for the next big trial. Some personal injury lawyers also end up teaching at law schools nearby to feel a sense of balance. If going to trial and arguing in front of a lawyer doesn’t excite you, then you are in the wrong field of law.
Specialized Knowledge for a Personal Injury Lawyer
Since the field involves injuries and their impact, one can be expected to do a lot of reading to build familiarity with the medicinal aspect of an injury. Also, each lawyer has to work closely with specialists such as engineers to understand the dynamics behind something technical like the operation of a crane or heavy machinery. Personal injury lawyers always have to learn new things, both before and during a case.
As a personal injury lawyer, one can expect to make about one-third of the settlement in damages if working on a contingency fee. Furthermore, the risk is enormous because there may be periods where cases aren’t settling, and you might be spending a lot of money into your cases on experts. The wave of success can be very high, but very low as well. However, there can be very significant financial and personal rewards if things go well.
By Samarth Chaddha, Attorney
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