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Personal Injury 101

PA - Flora Templeton Stuart

Recovering damages for a personal injury following an accident can be a complicated and frustrating experience. Many insurance company adjusters are quick to look for reasons to deny or attempt avoiding payment of a claim when they think they can find a technicality to support their position. Insurance companies are not obligated to a claimant beyond paying damages for what can be proven in court. In addition, insurance company claims adjusters are professionally trained negotiators who recognize when a claimant can be persuaded to settle a claim in short order with a full future medical liability release, effectively ending the claim for less than its full value. These reasons alone are enough to establish that any individual who is injured due to the negligence of another person should have experienced Bowling Green personal injury legal representation.

Proving Negligence

All valid personal injury cases are based on negligence of the respondent party, and sometimes multiple parties. It is the responsibility of the plaintiff legal counsel to prove that their client was injured due to the negligence of the defendant based on specific documentation. That documentation can include official police reports and medical records for injury treatment immediately following the accident. This also applies to both auto accidents and premises liability claims. It is always very important for the injured party to seek medical attention as soon as possible, even when first responders do not issue medical treatment. Internal injuries can manifest well after the fact, and often they are more dangerous than obvious injuries. Documentation from all official and commercial actions can be vital to proving a personal injury claim.

Potential Damages

Typical personal injury claims will include compensatory damage recovery for pecuniary expenses like medical bills and lost wages, along with associated expenses for traveling to second opinion doctors or specialists. Recovery for non-economic pain-and-suffering is also considered as compensatory, but often this is where the negotiations are the most intense. Having your own personal injury attorney means you also have a professional negotiator representing your case who will fight for all of your financial compensation rights, including punitive damages when they apply. Punitive damages can only be imposed by a jury when the injured claimant’s attorney can prove that gross negligence applies in the case. This is especially important in wrongful death cases involving commercial vehicles when the transportation company is liable as well as the driver. Punitive damages are a common component of very serious accidents, and it always takes an experienced personal injury attorney who understands how to craft a case for presentation to the jury.

Comparative Negligence

Comparative negligence is the legal application that says not all accidents producing injuries are obvious with respect to causation. This can be important even in a state that applies “no-fault” status to typical auto accident claims. In cases with serious injuries, the fault percentages can matter when an injury claim qualifies for a negligence claim beyond standard no-fault insurance coverage. And, in premises liability personal injury cases such as a slip-and-fall, assumption of personal risk is often used as a defense as well. Injured claimants without aggressive and experienced representation are no negotiating match against insurance company adjusters focused on limiting a total settlement payout. Having solid legal counsel can ensure an equitable settlement.

Never handle a personal injury claim without some form of legal counsel from an attorney who knows how to read the actions of a respondent insurance company. Company agents are trained in knowing when they can settle a case with a client who will not retain a lawyer. And, your personal injury claim may be much more valuable than you realize. Always get a lawyer and get a good one!

Any time someone finds themselves in a situation where they need a lawyer, it can become confusing and a bit stressful. What do you need to look for? Who should you hire? Is this the best person for my case? These are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to questions that you may have when selecting an attorney, and that’s why we’re here to help. We’re going to give you five helpful tips to keep in mind when you’re selecting your attorney so you get the best fit possible.

Find an Experienced Attorney

One of the best recommendations for someone looking for representation is to find someone with experience who has worked a case like yours in the past. New lawyers can be a bit tentative or unsure about how to help you in your case, so ask around to find someone who has done it before. This could mean asking friends for referrals or scouring Google to find reviews of Bowling Green attorneys in your area. Make sure to call multiple and not just one.

Avoid Ambulance Chasers

Ambulance chasers are people who thrive on taking advantage of the system by going to court with the sole intent of extracting as much money as possible. This practice is illegal, and you certainly don’t want anyone known for doing this to represent you. They start to get a reputation, and you don’t want the court to think that you are only in this for the monetary gain. You have a real case, and you want it to be taken seriously.

Have a Settlement Goal in Mind

What is your ideal end result? You need to have an idea of what your goal is, and then match it to what your lawyer thinks is reasonable. Avoid any lawyer who guarantees you a specific settlement because there are no guarantees in these types of cases. That is just someone who wants to get paid.

What Associations Do They Belong To?

When you’re in the process of hiring an attorney, you are going to want to look into their background as much as possible. Do they belong to any professional organizations? If they do, this is a sign that they take themselves and their profession seriously. If they don’t, or they have been kicked out of such organizations, then you know that you are probably going to want to stay far away from them.

Conflicts of Interest

Before settling on a particular attorney, do your homework and make sure that they don’t have any potential conflicts of interest. If they have done work in the past for the people you are going to court against, you may want to reconsider hiring that person to represent you in the case. A good Bowling Green attorney will let you know this up front, so if you find out that they didn’t tell you, drop them immediately.

While it can be a confusing and stressful time preparing yourself for court, it isn’t anything that people haven’t done before. There are all kinds of people and organizations to get in touch with if you have any questions or concerns about your attorney or the case. You aren’t alone, so make sure you use all the resources that you have available to you.

Author Photo

Flora Templeton Stuart

Flora Templeton Stuart is the lead attorney and founder of the law firm Flora Templeton Stuart Accident Injury Lawyers, established in 1976. She is a nationally recognized personal injury lawyer with over 40 years of experience. Her story has been featured on Fox, The New York Times, ABC, Time, and NBC.