The Benefits of Hiring a Personal Injury Lawyer in Philadelphia
Hiring a personal injury lawyer vastly increases the chances of winning your case in court or obtaining an attractive settlement. Unless your claim is heard in small claims court, you need an effective attorney to take on insurance company defense lawyers. Defense lawyers stake their reputations on winning cases and reducing settlement payouts, so they take no prisoners.
Pro se (self-represented) clients face a mountain of obstacles for any claims outside of small claims court. The courts expect pro se litigants to observe all forms of the legal process and present their cases accurately and efficiently—as if they are trained lawyers. For most pro se litigants, many hours of study and education are needed just to learn the court process and how to assemble a case.
After many hours of putting together a claim, the pro se litigant must then defend against defense attacks, a process that rarely goes well. Defense lawyers spot missteps by pro se plaintiffs quickly and exploit them to destroy the case.
In addition to the lack of legal knowledge and experience, pro se plaintiffs have the disadvantage of being emotionally involved. Personal injury victims usually suffer a great deal of physical pain and emotional distress. They deserve and often need the compensation they seek to avoid irreparable harm to their family. As a result, their emotions are high, a situation that blinds most people to rational decision-making.
As the saying goes, a lawyer who represents himself has a fool for a client. Unfortunately, for lay litigants, the chances of a poor outcome are even more likely.
At each stage, personal injury lawyers provide vital services. The paragraphs below detail how they benefit clients at each stage.
Your first step in a personal injury case is contacting an experienced litigator. Personal injury lawyers offer free consultations—so there is no risk that you are spending money only to find out you have no claim. The lawyer will evaluate the situation and give you an honest answer as to your chances of prevailing, the legal path ahead, and what your claim is worth.
The Insurance Claim in Philadelphia
Many personal injury cases begin with filing an insurance claim. For instance, after a car accident, your insurance company files a claim against the other motorist if he was at fault. At this point, the insurance companies battle each other over how much each must pay. Then you receive a claims decision.
Often, the claims decision denies you compensation or offers a paltry sum. If you accept a low settlement, you give up your rights to bring legal action. Therefore, it is always advisable to consult a personal injury lawyer before accepting a claim.
You have the right to appeal the claim. However, doing so with the assistance of a personal injury attorney dramatically increases the chances of success.
However, many claims adjusters feel pressure to keep payouts low and refuse to budge, even when that means an expensive lawsuit.
Filing the Complaint in Philadelphia
When the insurer insists on an inadequate settlement, you must file a lawsuit or accept less compensation than you deserve. Filing the complaint starts the litigation.
A complaint consists of a summary of the event and cites the legal basis under which the lawsuit proceeds. The complaint must be written correctly for the case to succeed. A complaint that is inaccurate or cites the legal basis incorrectly faces withering criticism from the defense, possibly resulting in its dismissal.
Analyzing the Answer
The defense files an answer to the complaint. Generally, the answer denies all or most of the allegations in the complaint. The defense answers provide clues as to its strategy that are apparent to experienced lawyers who know how to read between the lines. This provides invaluable preparation for the court battle.
Investigating the incident and gathering evidence is a vital component of a personal injury attorney’s job. Courts decide cases based on the evidence presented. Therefore, obtaining proof of your claim is the foundation upon which the entire case depends.
Discovery is a multi-step process where your attorney has legal powers to force the production of evidence from the defense and third parties. Common pieces of evidence introduced in personal injury cases include the following:
- Police reports
- Internal business memos and reports
- Witness statements
- Medical records
- Video evidence
- Photographic evidence
- Dashcam video
- Surveillance recordings
- Physical evidence
- Accident reconstruction reports
- Other relevant proofs
During the initial discovery phase, the plaintiff and defendant must share all evidence they plan to introduce. Compliance with the court’s directives on discovery is crucial and one of the services a personal injury attorney provides.
Once documentary evidence is gathered, both sides present the other’s witnesses with written questions. These start with requests for admissions, where witnesses must admit or deny specific material facts of the case. Your personal injury attorney generates these requests to elicit vital information from the other side’s witnesses. Also, your attorney provides advice on how you answer requests for admissions from the defense.
Next, each side presents the other with interrogatories. Interrogatories consist of written questions to the other side’s witnesses. Some interrogatories are standard for a personal injury case, while your attorney may write others that pertain specifically to your claim.
Interrogatories provide valuable evidence for your case. Additionally, your attorney helps you in answering interrogatories from the defense. Legal advice on answering these questions is key because the defense asks pointed questions it hopes will provide it with evidence it can use in a motion for summary judgment.
The earlier discovery phases lead up to its key component, depositions Depositions are in-person interviews lawyers conduct with the other side’s witnesses. They usually take place at the lawyer’s office with a stenographer.
Depositions allow your attorney to challenge the statements made by defense witnesses during requests for admissions and interrogatories. Also, the defense can challenge you on your previous statements.
Personal injury attorneys craft questions for defense witnesses that compel them to admit material facts that further prove your case. Additionally, they pose questions that plant the seeds of doubt about the veracity of inaccurate defense witness statements. Trial lawyers also possess the valuable ability to think on their feet, pivoting to revealing follow-up queries based on witness answers.
Your personal injury lawyer also prepares you for your deposition. This service is invaluable because it helps you avoid traps the defense sets. Also, your attorney is present during your deposition and objects to irrelevant or inappropriate defense questions.
Settlement Negotiations in Philadelphia
Most personal injury cases end in a settlement. Once the plaintiff’s attorneys have gathered sufficient evidence to prove the case, the defense knows it is fighting a losing battle. If it allows the case to continue through a trial, the insurance company incurs hefty legal fees and potential liability for a big verdict. As a result, they usually capitulate before the trial date.
Personal injury cases can settle at any time. A few settle before the complaint is filed, but the bulk conclude with an agreement sometime during the discovery process. Of the few that go to trial, they may settle during appeals.
Therefore, negotiation prowess stands as an essential benefit of a personal injury attorney. Your lawyer understands the actual value of your claim and works tirelessly to gain the legal position needed to compel the defense to pay without going to trial.
Mattiacci Law’s reputation for success in court helps bring the defense to the table because they know they are likely to lose more if they continue to trial.
During the case, either side may file motions. For example, it may be necessary for your lawyer to file a motion for the production of evidence. On the other hand, the defense often files motions to dismiss for lack of evidence or other grounds.
Judges grant or deny motions based on legal precedence. Your attorney knows how to file successful motions and defend against defense motions. For instance, the defense may move for summary judgment, asking the court to dismiss the claim because the plaintiff failed to provide proof of an essential element. From the start of your claim, your attorney guards against this type of motion by carefully constructing an unassailable case.
Though most cases end in a settlement, you need an attorney that is a strong trial lawyer. An integral part of the defense’s willingness to settle for a higher figure is its view of its chances at trial. If it believes it can win, it may offer a figure that is too low. On the other hand, if it feels it will lose, it will offer a generous settlement to avoid a worse result from a verdict.
Your attorney’s reputation as a winning litigator helps him negotiate a better deal. However, if the defense remains obstinate, your personal injury trial lawyer can bring the case before a jury and win.
Appeals require detailed, precise legal work. Unlike a trial, appeals are not based on findings of fact. The jury has already served as the trier of fact, and an appeals court provides no venue to retry the case.
Instead, appeals center on matters of law and whether the trial was fair. For example, either side may request a new trial because of a judge’s evidentiary decision. Further, either side may appeal the amount of the verdict. For instance, the defense may allege that the award violates specific laws and precedents.
You need an expert litigation team to handle the appeals process. Failure to combat defense arguments at this stage can result in the loss of an award.
Personal injury lawyers provide valuable benefits to their clients. They understand how to gather evidence, construct a case, and repel the defense in court. Because of this, they have substantial leverage in negotiations. The chances of achieving the best outcome are slight without an expert legal team.
Consult with a Philadelphia Personal Injury Lawyer
Mattiacci Law practices all types of personal injury law, from auto accidents to premises liability. If you have been injured because of someone else’s negligence, you need Mattiacci Law on your side. Contact Mattiacci Law for a free consultation.
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