What is a personal injury attorney?
A personal injury attorney is a lawyer who represents the interests of people who have a claim for a physical or psychological injury against another person, company, government or other entity. Personal injury law falls under the general category of tort law. Tort law involves civil injuries where one party suffers harm or injury caused by another party's actions, which can be intentional or negligent. Torts are generally resolved by payment of money to compensate for the harm or injury. An example might be a patient suing a doctor for an injury caused by the doctor's negligence or a driver suing another driver who caused an automobile accident.
A personal injury attorney files a lawsuit against the party (and often an insurance company) that caused the harm or injury. Usually the lawsuit seeks recovery of monetary damages. In Virginia, the amount of damages sought dictates which court the attorney files the lawsuit in. If both of the parties are not from Virginia or the lawsuit involves federal law, the lawsuit may be filed in a federal court.
How can a personal injury attorney help me?
A personal injury attorney can help you decide if you have a claim against another party. The attorney will listen to you and your case and ask questions. Based on the facts you provide, the attorney will advise whether or not he or she believes you have strong claims and if he or she accepts your case, will advise how to move forward.
What is my claim worth?
A personal injury attorney can review your case and determine the best way to quantify your harm or injury. In the case of a physical or psychological injury, this involves quantifying the costs the injury, such as medical bills and loss of ability or quality of life. In the case of property loss, this often involves repair bills and appraisals.
How much will it cost to hire an attorney?
Depending on your claim, it may cost you little to nothing to hire a personal injury attorney. In many situations, personal injury attorneys work for a contingency fee. This means that the attorney's payment is contingent on successfully recovering for you. If an attorney agrees to represent you on contingency, you will probably enter into a contract that allows the attorney to take a portion of the award or settlement recovered in exchange for representing you and paying some of the upfront costs of the lawsuit.
Will I have to go to trial?
It's reported that between 95 and 97 percent of civil cases settle before going to trial. Regardless of how accurate these percentages are, it's safe to say the majority of civil cases settle out of court. After reviewing your case, an attorney can help you decide if trial or settlement is the best option for you and can move forward with your case appropriately.