When you suffer a personal injury in an accident, you might consider consulting a personal injury lawyer. But if you have never hired an injury lawyer before, you might also wonder what the lawyer does and whether hiring one makes sense.
A lawyer’s primary role is to represent clients. The lawyer takes your instructions and acts on your behalf. This gives you the time and peace of mind to focus on your health.
Read on to learn what an accident and personal injury lawyer does for you and your interests.
The Role of the Lawyer
After a lawyer gets admitted to the practice of law, the lawyer must follow the Florida Rules of Professional Conduct. These ethical rules set out what a lawyer can and cannot do while representing clients.
The rules explain the roles a lawyer fulfills for you, including:
Counselor and Adviser
From your first meeting with your lawyer, your lawyer will act as your legal counsel. During your initial consultation, your lawyer will listen to your story and evaluate your legal rights.
Based on the facts of your accident, the lawyer will analyze whether the law entitles you to injury compensation. The lawyer will explain the law and your legal rights in an open, honest, and objective conversation. This conversation will describe the strengths and weaknesses of your case so you can make an informed decision about how to proceed.
If the law entitles you to injury compensation, the lawyer will assess the value of your claim. This valuation will determine whether the at-fault party has made a fair settlement offer. It will also help you plan for your financial future after your case ends.
Depending on how you decide to proceed with your case, the lawyer will advise you about your potential legal strategies. This advice will help you assemble and present the best possible case to the liability insurer and jury.
Representative and Advocate
Most clients are familiar with the lawyer’s role as a representative and advocate for their causes. Unlike the objective stance taken by the lawyer during interactions with you, the lawyer will zealously advocate for you and your rights when acting as your representative.
This includes arguing in your favor when dealing with:
- Insurance adjusters
- Opposing parties and their lawyers
The lawyer must remain within the bounds of the ethical rules while advocating on your behalf. But as long as the lawyer avoids lying on your behalf, the lawyer can use all their advocacy skills to fight for the best possible outcome in your case.
Lawyers learn how to negotiate in law school. From the lawyer’s first case, the lawyer will look for ways to reach a compromise with the at-fault party and its insurer. Over 70% of injury cases settle before reaching a verdict. This means that the most likely outcome for your case is a settlement with the liability insurer for the person or business that caused your injuries.
Your lawyer’s negotiation skills will have a direct impact on the outcome of your case. Your lawyer will work aggressively and honestly to get the best possible settlement based on the facts of your case.
Practical Tasks a Lawyer Performs
With that high-level understanding of what a lawyer does, you might wonder about the services a lawyer will provide in your case. The easiest way to understand the work performed by a lawyer is to step through the injury claim process and the tasks a lawyer carries out at each step.
The Insurance Claim
Almost all injury cases involve an insurer. Some cases involve multiple insurers. For example, after an Uber accident, you might deal with Uber’s insurer, the Uber driver’s insurer, and the insurers for the other drivers involved in the accident.
But even in non-auto accidents, the at-fault party often has an insurance policy to cover your damages. Homeowner’s insurance and business liability insurance can cover slip and fall accidents. Workers’ compensation insurance can cover on-the-job injuries. Medical malpractice insurance can cover injuries resulting from medical errors.
In Florida, the insurer has 30 days to affirm or deny coverage. The lawyer will deal with the adjuster assigned to your claim by responding to any requests for additional information or claim denials. If the adjuster denies your claim, your lawyer will provide additional documents and arguments to try to persuade the adjuster to pay the claim.
The lawyer also provides a buffer between you and the insurance company to make it more difficult for the insurer to take advantage of you. Instead, the lawyer will try to negotiate a fair settlement with the insurer.
If you cannot settle your claim, you and your lawyer will discuss your next steps. Based on the lawyer’s advice and counsel, you will decide whether you should file a lawsuit or not.
During a lawsuit, a lawyer will:
- Prepare and file the pleadings that initiate the lawsuit
- Gather evidence to support your claim
- Request evidence from the other party to determine their strategy
- Conduct depositions of witnesses and defend your deposition
- Draft and argue motions during pre-trial
- Present your case to a jury at trial
Only about 3% of cases reach a verdict. Even after filing a lawsuit, your case will likely settle. As your lawyer litigates your case, the lawyer will continue to talk to the other side about a settlement.
Learning More About What a Lawyer Does
The best way to learn about what a Clearwater injury lawyer does is to talk to one. Most injury lawyers offer a free consultation to new clients. You can discuss your case with a lawyer to determine what the lawyer can do to help you.