Most people never have to deal with court, lawyers or the legal system, except for occasionally showing up for jury duty. The legal system can be complicated and confusing, and involves a number of specialized terms, proceedings, rules, procedures, and laws. Watching courtroom dramas does nothing to educate the average person on what the real legal system is all about. However, a little bit of information can go a long way to helping you understand what you may be facing if you have been injured in an accident.
Many people injured in an accident may never see a lawyer or judge. Instead, they may just settle with the insurance company. The problem is that weeks or months later, if the injury didn't get any better, or the health care bills were higher than expected, there may be no recourse if you've already accepted the settlement offer. On the other hand, if you hire a personal injury lawyer after an accident, they can file a lawsuit on your behalf, to make sure you get the compensation you deserve to cover pain, suffering, property damage, injuries, medical bills, lost wages and any other damages that came as the result of an accident.
Filing a Lawsuit
One of the common things an attorney does is file a lawsuit on behalf of his or her client. A lawsuit is "[a] legal action by one person or entity against another person or entity, to be decided in a court of law." Lawsuits are started when the plaintiff files a complaint in the appropriate court. A complaint is "the initial pleading that starts a civil action and states the basis for the court's jurisdiction, the basis for the plaintiff's claim, and the demand for relief." Black's Law Dictionary 323 (9th ed. 2009).
If you are injured in an accident, and want to seek damages from any of the other people or entities involved, you will likely have to do so through filing a civil lawsuit. In some cases, individuals can file their own lawsuit; however, there are many instances where this may not be the best decision.
First of all, a personal injury lawsuit often involves physical injury claims that require the input of a medical professional. Medical cases may require an expert's report about the nature of the injuries, the extent of the injuries, how the injuries may affect the individual in their job, and if the injuries could be chronic and affect the individual for the rest of their life.
Additionally, personal injury cases have a long history in the Washington D.C. court system, and with that comes a long line of case law that informs personal injury lawsuits. For these reasons, it may be best to contact an experienced personal injury attorney who is trained in the specifics of personal injury lawsuits in Washington D.C., knows medical professionals who can properly evaluate your injuries, and understands how the insurance company may fight against you to deny your claims. Experience may be the key to your recovery in a personal injury lawsuit.
What Is a Personal Injury Attorney?
An attorney is someone who is authorized to practice law. This generally means they have graduated from an accredited law school, passed the bar exam in a certain jurisdiction, and have been authorized by the jurisdiction to practice law. A jurisdiction could be a state, a federal jurisdiction, or Washington D.C. While some lawyers dabble in many areas of law, lawyers typically focus their practice in a specific area of law.
For example, at Gilman & Bedigian, we focus on personal injury law and medical malpractice law. These areas of law require an understanding of not only the specific laws and regulations, but also how physical injuries can affect an injured client in the short-term and the long-term.
Lawyers are often depicted in popular culture as throwing harsh questions at witnesses on the stand and arguing back and forth with the opposing attorney. However, in reality, most of a lawyer's job takes place behind the scenes.
The majority of civil lawsuits, especially personal injury lawsuits, never even make it to trial. A lawyer may spend months or even years preparing a case. It will usually start with talking to the person involved in the accident, getting information from them, and then investigating the case. This will include collecting and reviewing medical documents, police records, insurance records, interviewing other witnesses, asking questions of the other drivers, asking questions in a deposition, obtaining a medical expert review, drafting legal motions, arguing motions in court, and negotiating with the other attorneys involved.
After all this, the case may be ready to go to trial. However, most of these cases settle before going to trial, which can be beneficial for the injured client, and even for the others involved, who don't want to spend the time and money going through a long trial, only to end up with an uncertain result. After a case is settled, the client may have their bills covered, car repairs compensated, and get monetary damages for lost wages or any other pain they may have suffered.
Finding the Right Personal Injury Attorney
If you have been injured in an accident, the law firm of Gilman & Bedigian may be able to help. Our attorneys have years of experience dealing with personal injury and medical malpractice cases in Washington D.C., Maryland, and Pennsylvania. We will file your lawsuit in the proper court, do an in-depth investigation into your case, and fight for your rights to make sure you get the compensation you deserve. Please do not hesitate to contact us today for a free consultation.