When Should I Hire a Personal Injury Lawyer? 5 Reasons to Make the Call
All it takes is one distracted driver to change your life forever. Maybe you are walking down the sidewalk, headed on your way to lunch with friends when a car jumps the curb and slams into you. Or maybe you are stopped at a traffic light, and the driver behind you is too busy texting to stop in time, and they rear-end your vehicle while traveling at a considerable speed.
In its most recent report on the matter, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported 2,841 deaths were the direct result of distracted driving. Among the deaths were 1,730 drivers, 605 passengers, 400 pedestrians, and 77 bicyclists.
Distracted drivers are not the only risk factor for being involved in a car accident in Alberquerque that results in serious injury or death. Anyone who has driven on I-25 knows the risk is real of encountering aggressive, distracted, and even inebriated drivers. Drunk driving and driving while under the influence of drugs are responsible for thousands of injuries and deaths each year. Speeding, aggressive driving, and driving while drowsy also are considered risky driving practices.
Accidents involving vehicles are just one of many ways people sustain the kind of injuries that require a personal injury lawyer. Any catastrophic personal injury caused by the negligence of others is reason enough to consult with an attorney who specializes in such cases.
What is a Personal Injury Lawyer?
Personal injury lawyers provide legal services to individuals who have received physical or psychological injuries because of the carelessness of another entity. The other party could be a person, a company, or a government agency.
If you or a loved one have suffered a catastrophic personal injury, it is advisable to contact a personal injury lawyer right away. It is never too soon to reach out to an attorney. If you or a loved one are seriously injured, it is ideal to speak with an attorney before insurance companies get involved. A qualified personal injury lawyer can assist clients with filing a claim to ensure coverage is not denied.
While personal injury lawyers are trained in all facets of the law, they specialize in tort law, which focuses on personal injury. They are a better asset to have in your corner than an attorney that does not concentrate on personal injury law.
A personal injury lawyer will interview you and assess your case, then follow up with recommendations on how to proceed. While most personal injury lawsuits are settled out of court, your attorney will begin to collect the necessary information and evidence needed should your case advance to a court hearing stage.
Romero Law Firm’s team of personal injury lawyers are well versed in tort law and can assist in helping to build a case for clients who have suffered a personal injury due to the negligence of others.
When Do I Need to Hire a Personal Injury Lawyer?
There are many instances when hiring a personal injury lawyer is in your best interest. Maybe you were involved in an automobile accident that was the fault of the other driver. Maybe you were hurt on the job because your employer failed to ensure the equipment you were using met Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations. Maybe you slipped and fell on an uneven sidewalk outside your favorite restaurant. Regardless of the reason for the injury, there are five times when hiring a personal injury lawyer is in your best interest.
- You were involved in an accident resulting in serious injuries
This is the number one reason most people contact a personal injury lawyer. Automobile accidents resulting in injuries such as whiplash, concussion, broken bones, or internal injuries can cause lasting pain and suffering. On-the-job work injuries can limit income and cause financial hardship for victims. Even a simple slip-and-fall on wet pavement can have lasting effects on your body. Regardless of how you suffered an injury, if it was due to the carelessness of another person or entity, you deserve to be represented by an attorney who will fight to make sure your needs are met.
Hiring a personal injury lawyer allows you to focus on your recovery. Your attorney can work behind the scenes to obtain medical records, deal with automobile and health insurance companies, and all the other minutia involved with personal injuries. An attorney with extensive knowledge of tort law will ensure you are not being asked confusing or misleading questions by others to avoid taking responsibility for their negligence.
- You or a family member have been impacted emotionally by injuries
Not all personal injuries are physical. Sometimes, our clients suffer both physical and emotional damage due to someone else’s inattention. Psychological stress, especially following a motor vehicle accident, can last a lifetime and require additional counseling and treatment. Research determined that incidences of depression, stress, anxiety, and posttraumatic stress disorder were common in individuals recovering from personal injuries. Depression can occur within a month post-injury and recovery from psychological and emotional stress is unlikely within a year.
A personal injury lawyer can ensure emotional pain and suffering are not dismissed by insurance companies and others involved in your case and will seek compensation and other benefits on your behalf.
- You were involved in an accident that caused temporary or permanent disability
Serious motor vehicle accidents can cause temporary or lasting disability. Minor whiplash, broken bones, and strained muscles are among the most common short-term disabilities suffered. Traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, and loss of limbs are serious injuries that cause lasting damage and disability.
Slips, trips, and falls in the workplace can cause a temporary or lasting disability. The National Safety Council estimates that in the U.S., a worker suffers an on-the-job injury every seven seconds. That is 7 million work injuries a year. These injuries add up to 99 million days of lost productivity annually. The top five occupations where work injuries resulting in temporary or permanent disability occur include:
– Service Industry (police, firefighters, EMS)
– Transportation and Shipping
– Manufacturing and Production
– Installation, maintenance, and repair
Regardless of whether your disability was caused by an automobile accident or another negligent party, a personal injury lawyer can help. Injured parties may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits, personal injury damages, long-term disability, Social Security Disability, and other financial compensation. Romero Law determines the amount of lost wages and other factors impacting your daily living to ensure you receive all the compensation and benefits for which you are eligible.
- You missed work due to injuries resulting from the negligence of others
Missing work can significantly impact the person injured, as well as family members or others who depend on their income to survive. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports 81.1 percent of families in the U.S. were dependent on one income. If the breadwinner in a family loses the ability to work, it can have serious financial consequences for the entire family. Whether a few weeks of work were missed to recover from injuries or the victim is now unable to return to work at all due to a permanent disability, compensation is available.
- You are concerned your insurance will not cover all your costs
Insurance companies often battle it out behind the scenes to decide how much they are willing to pay for accidents that result in serious injuries. How much an insurance company is willing to pay out is dependent on the amount of insurance coverage of the at-fault party.
It is the job of insurance adjusters to decide how much your injury is worth. They consider the type of injury, how much medical treatment is required to treat the injury, and whether the injury will result in permanent disability. The permanency of injuries is a critical factor for insurance companies. Even if it is determined that your injury will result in lasting disability, insurance companies may try to haggle on what they are willing to pay. Oftentimes, the payout does not adequately cover all expenses, and victims find themselves mired in financial distress among the medical bills and lost wages from work. It is important to discuss your case with a personal injury attorney right away. If you have serious injuries that will result in a loss of income and temporary or permanent disability, speak to an attorney before you agree to any offers or settlements from the insurance companies involved. They can work on your behalf to ensure you are not short-changed by insurance companies looking out for their own bottom lines.
Automobile and Motorcycle Accidents: Who is at Fault?
When you suffer an injury, one of the first things insurance company adjusters do is determine who is at fault. In other words, they examine the evidence and decide if the person suffering from the injuries is at fault or if a third party’s negligence was the cause.
One of the biggest sources for insurance companies, especially if a car or motorcycle is the cause of the injuries, is a police report if one was filed. Whether you are involved in a small fender bender resulting in minor injuries, or a serious crash resulting in a trip to the hospital, it is important to report it to the police so they may conduct an investigation. The parties involved in the accident will not have a choice in contacting the police if the accident results in the closing of a major roadway or other interruptions to the normal flow of traffic. But when given a choice, if you believe another party to be at fault, insist on calling the police.
There are two kinds of motor vehicle accidents where the fault is automatically assigned to a specific driver under a provision known as admitted liability.
- Rear-end collisions are almost always determined to be the fault of the driver who collides with the vehicle in front of theirs. Drivers have a legal duty to maintain a proper distance from vehicles in front of them and to stay alert for slowing or stopping. Sometimes insurance adjusters will try to contest this by claiming their insured was experiencing some sort of emergency. This information will be in the narrative portion of the police report.
- Failure to yield during left turns is another time when the fault is immediately assigned to the driver who was making the left turn. It is that driver’s legal duty to yield to oncoming traffic. Sometimes insurance adjusters will try to dispute fault with an argument over which driver had the right of way at the intersection. If this happens, it will be found in the narrative portion of a police report.
Police investigators will conduct an initial investigation at the scene, and then provide a report with details of the accident and determination of which party was at fault. Sometimes the police will issue a citation or a ticket to the at-fault party if the accident was the result of a violation of motor vehicle law. When a ticket or citation is issued, insurance adjusters generally use it as evidence. If one is not issued, the adjuster will examine the other notations from the police to determine whether one or both parties contributed to the accident.
There are times when insurance adjusters will try to argue the accident was not the fault of their insured driver. They may claim their insured did not break any traffic laws or statutes resulting in the accident or cite a law or statute that excuses the other party’s conduct behind the wheel. If this happens, your lawyer can demand a copy of the law, statute, ordinance, or other legal rules the adjuster is citing to be used to appeal the claim or as evidence in a court case.
Personal injury lawyers can request a copy of any official police report and use it to help secure compensation and benefits on your behalf.
Workplace Injuries: Who is at Fault?
Determining who is at fault for workplace injuries often turns into a blame game. It is why if you have been injured on the job, it is imperative to contact a personal injury lawyer right away. As with automobile accidents, it is in the injured party’s best interest to have a skilled attorney evaluating all documentation and requests for information on your behalf before anything is provided or agreed on. Do not accept any offers to settle your claim without speaking to an attorney to ensure you are receiving all the compensation and benefits for which you are eligible. If you are part of a union at your job, they may assist in finding legal representation. Ultimately, it is up to the injured party to determine who they would like to represent them.
The Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 (OSHA) states it is the responsibility of all employers to maintain a safe working environment that is free of any field-specific hazards. If an employee’s injury is the direct result of the employer’s failure to follow the regulations in this act, they are not only liable for the worker’s injuries, they also may be subject to citations, fines, and other penalties from OSHA for failure to comply.
Sometimes employers will contest fault for an on-the-job accident resulting in injury. There are times when an employer can successfully prove the fault lay with the worker. Some examples:
- Substance or alcohol abuse is two reasons employers can cite to deny responsibility for workplace injuries. If it is proven the worker was under the influence while on the job, the responsibility shifts away from the employer and to the employee. An employee who tries to sue to gain compensation in this instance will likely be unsuccessful.
- Injuries inflicted on an employee by another employee are generally not deemed the employer’s fault unless the injured party can prove the employer knew the aggressor was a health and safety risk and failed to take action. Normally, these kinds of incidents are covered under workers’ compensation.
When an accident happens on the job, OSHA will be called in to investigate. Any findings or reports from OSHA must be obtained by your attorney for later use if necessary. As with police investigating a motor vehicle accident, OSHA inspectors will thoroughly examine the incident to determine fault. There are 10 most frequently cited standards by OSHA investigators relating to workplace safety. If any of them are mentioned in the official OSHA report, your attorney can use that in your favor.
What Should I Look for in a Personal Injury Lawyer?
Personal injury lawyers are plentiful, but their qualifications and experience vary. Before being allowed to practice law in New Mexico, attorneys must complete law school and pass the New Mexico State Bar Exam. Some areas of practice require additional legal specialty certification, but personal injury law is not among them.
There are some key qualities to look for in a personal injury lawyer.
- They are compassionate
Some of the best personal injury lawyers bring new meaning to the word personal. They understand their clients are human beings experiencing real pain and suffering. At Romero Law, we are motivated to connect with our clients in a compassionate and caring manner. We go the extra mile to ensure you receive the same level of service we would want for our loved ones if they were in your position.
- They are respectable
Not all personal injury lawyers are respectable. It is important to check an attorney’s reputation before hiring. Do they have the respect of their peers? Have they been identified by others in the profession as leaders in their area of expertise? A red flag for respectability is an attorney who makes grandiose promises about settlements before he or she has had the opportunity to fully evaluate and review your case.
- They have a record of success
A successful record is as important as a quality reputation when choosing a personal injury lawyer. The team at Romero Law has won hundreds of cases for clients and is highly recommended by those we have helped. We believe in a David vs. Goliath approach to personal injury law and believe negligent parties should be held accountable.
- They are approachable
Personality goes a long way in the success of a personal injury lawyer. Choose someone who is a great communicator and treats others with courtesy and respect. We understand the importance of active listening at Romero Law and will never talk down to our clients.
- They are aggressive (when necessary)
Choose a personal injury lawyer who is not afraid to get tough when needed. When insurance adjusters or corporate attorneys are involved in your case, sometimes an aggressive stance is needed to ensure you are being treated fairly. At Romero Law, we know when it is appropriate to be firm and push back against those who do not have your best interests in mind.
- They are available
Being involved in an accident that results in serious injuries is stressful. Hiring an attorney to represent your interests should not add to the anxiety. It is important to ensure the personal injury lawyer you select is available when his or her services are needed. Be sure to ask how many clients they are currently representing and whether they have support staff readily available to assist with your needs in their absence.
How Romero Law Can Help
At Romero Law, our clients’ fights are our fights. We understand that dealing with personal injuries as a result of someone else’s negligence can be a traumatic and exhausting process. We will never add to your burden. It is our goal to make every consultation as stress-free as possible for our clients.
Our promise to our clients:
- We will handle all the details of your personal injury claim. We know what it takes to build a solid personal injury claim and will do all the legwork so you and your loved ones can focus on what is most important: your recovery.
- We will level the playing field. We are familiar with the tactics insurance claims adjusters use to help reduce compensation and benefits and will ensure our clients are not cheated out of what they deserve.
- We know what your case is worth and will not rest until you receive all of the compensation and benefits you deserve.
You can trust our team of experts to provide strong and diligent representation on your behalf. Our team will provide a free, no-obligation consultation. Contact us online or by calling 505-595-2100.