Philadelphia is a large, bustling city. Every now and then, you may find yourself subjected to injury from freak accidents or unfortunate circumstances that aren’t even your fault. For any such case, you are entitled to compensation due from the party responsible, and have the right to make a personal injury claim.
But demanding this may not always be easy, and could get messy. In complex situations like these, you’ll need to hire a personal injury lawyer, sometimes known simply as a ‘PI’ or ‘slip-and-fall’ lawyer.
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Understanding the Field: What is a personal injury lawyer?
A personal injury lawyer is a legal professional who specializes in representing individuals who have been physically or psychologically injured due to negligence, carelessness, or the intentional actions of another person, company, government entity, or organization.
Personal injury cases cover a wide range of situations: car accidents, slip-and-fall accidents, workplace accidents, defective products, dog bites or animal attacks, assault and battery, medical malpractice, the list goes on.
A personal injury lawyer ensures that their client, the plaintiff, receives fair and honest compensation for the consequences, physical or mental, suffered as a result of personal injury. Compensation may come in the form of settlements: agreements made between their client, the lawyer, and the party at fault or their insurance company, saving them the time, money, and hassle of going to court. A personal injury lawyer will negotiate this on their client’s behalf, fighting for the most favorable deal on the table.
Personal injury lawyers have a deep understanding of tort law, the area of law that deals with civil wrongs and injuries, as well as insurance law. They can help you understand exactly what your rights are, assess the strength of your case, and pursue the compensation you deserve.
Law and Earnings: How much does a personal injury lawyer make?
According to the US Bureau of Statistics, personal injury lawyers make a median salary of $127,000 a year, which is roughly $60 an hour, basing it off a typical 40-hour work week. Although, most lawyers work full time and go over 40.
Personal injury lawyers primarily make decent money from their commissioned earnings. On average, 32% of the awarded compensation to the plaintiff is given to their representation. These earnings can vary greatly depending on the case, some pro-bono cases may not bring home those prized steak dinners, but other cases with higher liabilities could lead to a lucrative settlement down the line.
Their clients can also be responsible for forwarding any incurred expenses from the case, so they themselves do not bear the brunt of costly investigations or long-running cases. Although, in the long run, their clients will ultimately reap the most benefits from the settlement.
Legal Champions: What Does a Personal Injury Lawyer Do?
When representing you, a personal injury lawyer will first make sure how much your claim is really worth. They’ll be factoring insurance costs, time spent out of work, medical expenses, case expenses, psychological trauma and therapy costs, debt, among a number of factors that could ultimately determine the lump sum pursuant to the plaintiff, a.k.a. the client.
Then, in matters where it is not obvious, there is the matter of determining who is at fault. Your manager? Your upper management? An organization as a whole? Your state government? The federal government? God? Well, in all cases except for maybe the last one, a PI lawyer makes it their duty to accurately pinpoint the blame by investigating the accident and leaning on their legal expertise before making a claim. There are PA-specific laws, as well as federal laws, in place for these particular situations, and breaking any of these laws determines the liable party. These are the tort laws your lawyer will be well-versed in and observe exactly which regulations were broken that directly caused the accident.
They will also use their legal expertise to adequately negotiate with defendant lawyers to find the most favorable deal for you. If necessary, they’ll be prepared to take your case to trial in the event that a settlement cannot be reached.
Sure, they may be visiting you on the worst day of your life, but they’re here to help.
Timing is Everything: When to Hire a Personal Injury Lawyer
In many cases, you should hire a PI lawyer as soon as possible. Your claim may be disputed by the party at fault, so if they lawyer up, so should you. If there’s an issue of complex liability, that is, it’s hard to pinpoint who is at fault, a PI lawyer can help with just that. If you’re not properly armed in ‘legalese’ and squirm at the idea of representing yourself, you’ll need a PI lawyer. If you feel you aren’t getting an adequate or fair amount of compensation, a lawyer can help you maximize the amount of compensation you deserve.
Not to mention, most accident lawyers assist in many instances beyond just the accident, including negotiating claims with insurance carriers, helping get your car on the road as swiftly as possible, or even acting as a helping, supportive hand during a time of recovery.
Keep in mind, too, that not every case requires a lawyer. Cases where the damages in question are negligible or not very serious, you could end up losing a significant portion of your settlement over a case that was fairly simple.
However, most studies will point to client cases who have PI lawyers to have significantly higher payout rates. Specifically, 91% of clients with a PI lawyer receive a payout, comparatively to the 51% who represented themselves.
So, if you know your injury is serious, it is best to find counsel for yourself, and to do so as early in the investigation as you can, so your lawyer can make a speedy case and determine liability faster from the get-go.