Have you been injured in an accident here in Northern California? The good news is that a solid NorCal accident attorney can help. Tough, compassionate, smart, and determined, a good attorney will make sure that insurers don’t leave you high and dry, and that the negligence from which you suffered does not go unpunished. But what exactly is an accident / injury lawyer, and what can they do for you?
Who They Are
A skilled accident lawyer, also called a personal injury lawyer, is a highly skilled legal professional whose expertise focuses on winning settlements for victims of accidents and injuries that result from the actions of others. Personal injury attorneys typically have a 4-year bachelor of arts and a 3-year Juris Doctoris (J.D.). They also must pass the bar exam in the state they live in.
Accident lawyers are generally tenacious and driven people. They are compassionate in dealing with clients who have recently been victimized by injury, sometimes to the point of having their lives completely upended, and also tough in winning settlements from insurance companies and other parties. They work long hours — typically well over the 40-hour per week — and will go to great lengths to investigate cases and negotiate deals. They often work on contingency, meaning they only get paid a percentage if they can win a settlement or a verdict for their clients.
What They Do
Most accident cases are settled out of court. The first stages of an accident / injury case will involve heavy investigation, and the attorney may not meet with their client regularly, though they should be at least readily accessible by phone or email. The attorney will be busy sifting through witness statements, official reports, photos and physical evidence to determine how the accident happened and who was at fault.
After the client has sufficiently recovered from their injuries to be released from hospitalization, the attorney may look at medical documents, bills, and employment reports. Then they will ask the insurance company to offer a settlement. After the insurance company has reviewed the case, they will make an offer that the personal injury attorney can go over with their client.
If the offer is sufficient, the case would stop here, but if not, the accident lawyer will file suit on behalf of their client. The defendant in the case then has 30 days to respond. There will then be a discovery period where the court will carefully examine all the evidence and eyewitness testimony in the case. A trial date will then be set.
The Value of Accident Lawyers
Personal injury lawyers are objective. Although compassionate toward their clients, they can focus on the facts of a client’s case without the same emotional investment. They know the law and the legal process, and can guide clients through the maze, helping them understand the options and choose the one best for them. They are skilled negotiators, and know how insurers think and what is reasonable to expect. In sum, they increase a client’s likelihood of getting a favorable settlement and offer peace of mind to those in distress.