A personal injury attorney is a lawyer who represents people who have been injured in accidents or as the result of malpractice. These attorneys help their clients sue when they have been hurt either emotionally or physically. Generally, these attorneys only fight cases in which the injured party isn't at fault. However, in some cases, a personal injury lawyer may take on a case in which the plaintiff shares the fault for his injury with another person or entity.
Personal injury lawyers are often used when a person has been injured in an automobile accident. In such a case, the injured party make seek monetary compensation not only for his damaged automobile, but also for cuts, scrapes, bruises, burns, scratches, and breaks sustained in the car accident. In fact, a personal injury attorney may help his client obtain compensation for injuries that aren't even visible, such as whiplash. Also, it is fairly common for a personal injury attorney to represent a whole carload of passengers who have been injured, such as a family or group of friends.
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Though car accident cases may make up a large portion of a personal injury lawyer's caseload, they aren't the only type of case these attorneys handle. Slip-and-fall accidents often require the help of a personal injury attorney as well. For example, if a person falls on a slippery floor at a bank or supermarket or slips on the ice outside of a restaurant or home, a personal injury lawyer seeks to prove that the fall was the fault of the establishment or homeowner, asking the court to require the at-fault party to pay damages for the plaintiff's injuries and pain and suffering.
Personal injury attorneys are frequently called upon to handle medical malpractice cases as well. For example, if a medical, dental, or surgical accident or mistake injures a person in some way, a personal injury attorney can help her seek compensation. Winning is typically dependent upon the attorney's ability to prove that the medical professional was negligent. A personal injury attorney may also handle cases in which a person has developed a disease because of his occupation or because of exposure to some sort of hazardous substance. For example, if a person worked with asbestos and then developed mesothelioma, a deadly form of cancer, he could call on a personal injury attorney to sue the company he believes is at fault.
Often, personal injury attorneys don't charge fees or retainers up front. Instead, they may work without pay at first, requiring clients to sign contracts giving them a set percentage of any compensation they receive as the result of their efforts. However, this is not always the case, and some attorneys do require rather hefty retainers.