Berman & Simmons is Maine’s leading plaintiff’s personal injury & medical malpractice firm. For over 100 years, we have helped clients who have been seriously injured due to no fault of their own. We represent people, no matter their circumstances or backgrounds, who often come to us at the most difficult & challenging time in their lives.
What does a Personal Injury Attorney do?
You may have, at some point in your life, had the misfortune of getting into a car accident. You may have gotten injured, or the other driver got injured and maybe you even totaled your car. So, what do you do? Who helps you out in this situation? Maybe you strongly feel that the other party is at fault. Do you call the other driver’s insurance company? Do you wait for a call from them? All these questions can be handled by speaking to a personal injury attorney.
The most likely reason why a person would need an attorney usually comes down to a couple of areas of law. Most of these occurrences will not be overly pleasant, defense attorneys speak to people with criminal legal issues, divorce attorneys speak to people with marital problems and personal injury attorneys generally speak to people who have been harmed in some way or fashion. These events can be very stressful, especially for a person injured in a severe accident.
To ease the stress of dealing with a catastrophic injury, most could do with the services of an experienced personal injury attorney. Whether the injury comes from a car accident, defective product or some other calamity, a personal injury attorney can help the injured party sort through their legal options.
Many personal injury cases start with a simple demand letter. A demand letter is almost exactly what it sounds like. It is a simple request discussing the incident; say a defective product that injures a consumer, and the relevant legal repercussions of the incident. It notifies the wrongdoer that the person injured has an attorney and may file claim against the wrongdoer. After the letter is sent it is possible for settlement negotiations to begin. If those negotiations fall flat or there is no response from the wrongdoer, the attorney will then most likely file a personal injury claim based on a tort or negligence theory.
A tort is a basic civil wrong, say a person assaults another or one of your neighbors sets a fire in their back-yard that’s flames singe a tree in your yard. Those are the civil wrongs that torts are based on. Now if a major manufacturer of food starts distributing food that gets people sick or a pharmacy’s prescription drug causes weird side effects in adults, those are negligence based claims.
All of the above situations are claims and cases that a personal injury attorney would normally take on, those are what the cases that are the subject of most non-commercial lawsuits are based on and are likely to be the claims that the average person would have to deal with in their lifetime.
When would l need a Personal Injury Attorney?
You could need a personal injury attorney for something as simple as a car accident or something as complex as a bad medical procedure gone wrong. Personal injury attorneys could handle either. The possibilities don’t end there, you may need to sue over a myriad of reasons, a former friend could make private information about you public, a neighborhood dog could get loose and bite you or you may get sued because you have music on too loud in your apartment.
These occurrences are not mentioned to put you on high alert. While it may be true that America can tend to be a litigious nation, meaning that people are very quick to initiate a law suit, the fact of the matter is that these examples are all possibilities and you need to be prepared to obtain legal representation when required. You do not want to be put in a position to have your legal rights exploited or unrepresented when the time comes.
The legal process can be very stressful, few people look forward to suing someone or being sued themselves. While it may often be very necessary, you may not come out of it thrilled. Even if victorious in a lawsuit with a large award being obtained, the fact of the matter is something that was likely very stressful or painful had to occur to you in order for such result to happen. A person with a legal claim needs to make sure that they are represented by the most experienced and knowledgeable attorney they can find to help them through the process.
Signs you need to speak to a Personal Injury Attorney
You have suffered a serious injury in an accident
You have been harmed by a defective product
You feel that you have been wronged by another person to the extent it has caused you severe issues such as loss of money, substantive mental issues or physical pain
How do you choose a Personal Injury Attorney?
Well, this step may seem a bit easy. You have likely seen many commercials or advertisements that offer personal injury attorney services to you. So how do you pick the one that is right for you? There are a couple of steps you can take that will be explained below but first you need to understand that personal injury attorneys can deal with a multitude of different cases, but there are still areas of concentration within the personal injury category of the law.
Step 1: Determine Your Needs
If you were harmed during a medical procedure, you will want to speak with a medical malpractice attorney. If you were harmed by a defective product, you will want to speak to a products liability attorney. You may have been injured while at work, that may be a worker’s compensation case. If you were injured in a car accident, you may need to seek out an attorney that primarily deals with car accidents. You may be suffering from sexual harassment at work or discrimination; those are cases that some firms deal with specifically.
All of the aforementioned situations are personal injury cases but all are typically handled differently. For instance, medical malpractice and worker’s compensation have their own special rules about proof and when a claim can be brought. The same is for discrimination cases; they usually have to go through a government administrative agency way before a lawsuit is filed. You need to get a handle on the types of law and then search for the attorney that can handle your specific situation.
Step 2: Research Online
Start your search by first aligning your situation with which type of lawyer you need. Do some research on the type of lawyer you need. Then narrow down your search to someone who is close to your geographic location. This likely sounds like a daunting situation but rest assured there are many lawyer directories that can help you find an attorney. Findlaw.com not only provides information on the types of law that you need research, they also have a robust lawyer directory that breaks down by city and state.
Step 3: Check the State Bar Association’s Website for any Disciplinary History
Unfortunately, some attorney’s violate the ethical standards set out for the profession. These violations are kept track of by state bar associations. The associations believe transparency is beneficial so that people can have confidence in the attorneys that don’t show up with disciplinary actions associated with their names.
While this is good research for you to use during your search, you should also pay attention to the circumstances of the case and its disposition. If the infraction is minor you may be ok with their representation.
Step 4: Schedule an Appointment with a Criminal Defense Attorney
So once you have searched for, and vetted your choice, pick a couple to go speak with in person. Many personal injury attorneys give free consultations so there is no reason to not speak with a few. Come equipped with questions you might have about the attorney themselves and the cases they have dealt with.
Be prepared to fully discuss your situation and the details of everything that happened. Make an effort to tell the attorney everything you can remember. Sometimes, people feel as though something is irrelevant and fail to discuss it with their attorney. It’s quite possible that what you think is irrelevant is very relevant to an attorney, so let them decide.