A personal injury attorney is someone most of us avoid thinking of and often only start to research after tragedy has struck. This means that most people are dealing with heightened emotions and trauma while having to navigate unchartered territory, not knowing what the references would be, when looking for the best attorney.
At a time when you should be focused on recovery and taking extra special care of yourself or your loved ones, you shouldn’t be burdened by having to wonder whether you made the right decision or whether all your concerns would be addressed when the process is placed in motion.
As such we recommend you invest a bit of time and do a thorough background check on the attorney you wish to engage in order to select one with a proven track record and good references.
What is personal injury claim?
A personal injury claim is a blanket term used for a claim for personal injuries caused by someone or something else that could have been prevented by applying due care and diligence.
Examples of personal injury are medical malpractice, motor vehicle accidents, and public liability claims like “slip and fall” accidents or dog bite incidents.
Personal injury law is not only related to physical or mental harm to a particular person but also includes loss of life due to the negligence of someone else.
Against whom is the claim lodged?
As a general rule the claim is instituted against the wrongdoer but this varies from case to case.
In the event of a motor vehicle accident, the claim will be lodged against the Road Accident Fund (RAF) as they stand in the shoes of the wrongdoer.
If the injury is a result of medical malpractice, the suit will be against the relevant doctor, nursing staff or medical institution responsible.
All other public liability claims will be against the responsible party. For example, if you slipped at a restaurant the claim would lie with the restaurant owner or if you injured yourself falling in a manhole because the cover was not secure the relevant Municipality may be at fault.
In a dog bite matter the owner would be liable but would in most instances be covered by his or her public liability insurance.
What should I hope to achieve by lodging a personal injury claim?
It is important to remember that the basis of any personal injury compensation is to ensure the victim remains in the financial position that he/she would have been in had it not been for the accident.
In other words, the financial position prior to the accident needs to be compared with the position after the accident, the difference between the two scenarios represents the claimable loss or damages suffered.
In the event of loss of life, the dependents of the deceased will be eligible to claim for loss of support provided that the necessary prove of loss is provided.
How is the compensation paid out?
In some cases settlements are paid into a trust if so required. Many claims are however paid in lump sum directly to the claimant once the necessary accounting by the attorney has been done.
It is of the utmost importance that basic principles of financial planning is applied as these settlements in many instances represents the “final paycheck” and provision would have to be made to ensure that the money is invested as to ensure the long-term financial security intended by the settlement.
Even though the client is allowed to choose how they prefer spending or investing the settlement, an experienced lawyer would be expected to explain to his/her client what route to take and to seek credible financial advice that would ensure the longevity of the financial relief achieved by the claim.
Why do we need personal injury attorneys?
Personal Injury attorneys are specialized and as such should be familiar with the latest legislation and case law applicable to any given case.
Specialized attorneys usually have access to a panel of medical experts and Counsel who are engaged for the sole purpose of evaluating and ensuring that every single need of an injured client is attended to.
If you do not have knowledge of the system, you will prolong the time taken to claim just by trying to educate yourself and will more often than not find that you overlooked principle aspects that would have greatly influenced the outcome of your claim.
A prime example is where a victim lodges a claim directly (unassisted by an attorney) with the RAF. These claims either prescribe or under settle as the victim simply doesn’t know the law nor do they have the necessary experience to determine the true value of a claim.
Engaging the best lawyer is crucial and ensures that the pressure is taken of the victim leaving them with the knowledge that their matter is attended to in a professional and proper way.
The nature of the instruction between a victim of a personal injury and an attorney is a special one and the victim should really be at ease that he/she can channel their energy and recourses toward recovery and leave the rest to the attorney.
You may also be interested in: