As a Denver personal injury attorney, I often get asked, “Soooo, what is it you do exactly?” I think most people have a sense of what a personal injury attorney does because of the commercials we all endure on the radio and television. In a nutshell, a personal injury attorney helps a victim who has been injured by another person or organization to get the money they need to heal and recover fully.
But here are some little-known facts about what personal injury attorneys do and don’t do:
- Personal injury attorneys practice civil law, not criminal law. This means that we do not have to prove fault “beyond a reasonable doubt.” Instead, we have to prove that it is more likely right than wrong that the other person or defendant was at fault.
- We practice in the area of negligence, which can apply across multiple areas, such as car crashes, motorcycle accidents, bicycle accidents, medical malpractice, slip and fall, and so on. These types of legal cases are all based on the same legal premise: negligence. The Legal Information Institute defines negligence this way, “A failure to behave with the level of care that someone of ordinary prudence would have exercised under the same circumstances. The behavior usually consists of actions, but can also consist of omissions when there is some duty to act (e.g., a duty to help victims of one’s previous conduct).” In a car crash, for example, one person’s failure to behave with a normal level of care while driving may cause harm to another driver, or pedestrian, or bicyclist, etc. They can be held responsible for their victim’s ensuing needs.
- Personal injury attorneys do not get involved in DUI charges because that is a criminal case. Therefore, the district attorney and the police handle DUI convictions. Instead, personal injury attorneys help victims of DUI accidents to get the money they’re owed from the drunk driver’s insurance, their own insurance, and other sources of assistance.
- Personal injury lawyers do not assist with estates or wills. Even if a victim was killed in a car or motorcycle crash, a different attorney would handle the victim’s estate, while a personal injury attorney would help the victim’s family deal with money owed from the at-fault driver.
Now, allow me to share all the ways that a personal injury attorney can fight for your rights and get you the money you need to recover from an accident.
- Relieve Stress After an Accident: I think this is the most important benefit that I provide my clients. Once a car crash victim signs with me, insurance companies can no longer call and harass them. Insurance companies must work with me. This enables my clients to get off the phone and work on their number-one goal: healing.
- At-Fault Driver’s Insurance: I know how insurance companies work; I used to work for one. They will do everything in their power to avoid paying victims of car or motorcycle crashes. I know their tactics and I know how to make them obey the law.
- Your Own Insurance: Often, accident victims do not realize that their own auto insurance company may owe them money, even if the accident wasn’t their fault. However, even a victim’s own insurance company will try to avoid paying what they’ve promised all along that they would pay. You’ve paid premiums for exactly this reason! I make sure that insurance companies pay what they owe.
- Other Insurance: Sometimes, other insurance policies may be available to car crash victims. For example, if you’ve borrowed a friend’s car and you are the victim in an accident, you can access your own insurance as well as your friend’s insurance. (Along the same lines, read this story about the power of a college student’s or military person’s “home of record.”)
- Help Find Proper Medical Care: Sometimes, accident victims need extended care or expensive medical care that they cannot afford. In Colorado, victims do not get paid until medical treatment is complete and the full value of the case is known. How can a victim pay for this care when he or she may not even be able to work? A good personal injury attorney has relationships with medical companies that agree to provide care without charging the victim until after their settlement comes in. And the rates should be very competitive.
- Help Reduce Medical Bills: One of my favorite things I do for victims is to help them get their hospital or medical bills reduced. Hospitals are notorious for trying to gouge accident victims because they think there may be a big insurance settlement for them to snatch later. I go through hospital bills with victims looking for charges that are out of line. I also help victims to negotiate their bills to lower amounts and set up payment plans.