Jim Adler | The Tough, Smart Lawyer

You’ve seen their ads on TV. You know they exist. Yet still you may be wondering, “What is a personal injury lawyer?”

The basic answer is simple: A personal injury lawyer represents Americans who are harmed by others’ negligence. That harm can be physical or mental injury caused by a person, a company or other entity.

A personal injury lawyer can fight for victims’ rights after injuries caused by defective drugs or products, or injuries in the workplace or a traffic accident.

This may mean filing a lawsuit and fighting in court, but in most cases an injury lawyer can negotiate a “out of court” settlement with defendant, with no need for a trial. Besides settlements and trial victories, payments also can come from mediation or arbitration.

Early in the process, an injury lawyer can advise clients on protecting their rights. One way is to avoid sharing too much information with insurance adjusters or others who want to limit payments. An injury lawyer also can advise clients on what their injury is worth, since insurance companies often make “low-ball” offers.

Personal injury lawyers normally work for a “contingency fee.” That means the lawyers aren’t paid unless they win for the client. Then the fee comes from a limited portion of the settlement in clients’ favor, often about 30 per cent. So the fee doesn’t come from the client’s pocket.

In some cases a flat fee may be charged or fees may be capped, as in settling Social Security Disability claims.

Personal injury lawyers are graduates of law schools who have passed state bar exams and have become members of the state bar in the state where they practice. They can represent injured persons in that state in many areas, depending on the lawyer. That can be a factor in choosing a law firm.

A personal injury lawyer in Texas is prohibited by law from contacting a potential client directly for 30 days after an injury. However, personal injury lawyers can make themselves known via the Internet and ads in various media.

Some personal injury lawyers offer a free consultation for potential clients, with no obligation. Then clients can decide if they want to proceed.

An injury lawyer can advise potential clients on this decision, but it’s still injured persons’ decision to make. If they decide to engage the attorney, they sign a “power of attorney” agreement so the lawyer can represent them in the legal arena.

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