Directory of Personal Injury Attorneys
At Lawyer Legion we created a directory of personal injury attorneys. You can search our directory by state, city, or zip code. Find a list of profiles for different personal injury attorneys in a particular city or state near you. The profiles have information on the attorney's membership and leadership in legal organizations related to personal injury, speaking engagements at quality CLE seminars, and participation in specialty certification programs for civil trial law.
When you call the personal injury attorney you can ask important questions such as:
- how much is my case worth?
- how will the other side calculate the settlement offer that they will make?
- will be have to file a personal injury lawsuit or will the case settle before trial?
- what does a personal injury attorney do in a case like this?
- how are the attorney fees and costs calculated?
- you a member of any local, state or national Civil Justice or Trial Lawyer Associations ?
- are you recognized as a board certified specialist in any state or national certification program for civil trial law or personal injury trial law?
Read this article to learn more about how to find the best personal injury attorney for your particular type of law suit, how much personal injury attorneys make, what the attorney charges and questions to ask the attorney during the initial consultation. Seek out the services of an experienced lawyer to find the best legal advice for your type of personal injury or accident claim.
What is Personal Injury Law?
When a person has been wronged by another party, the United States legal system allows that person to seek justice in civil courts. If the wrong stems from an agreement between the parties, then there is a contract dispute. If, however, there is no existing agreement between the parties, then the civil action is called a "tort."
Torts are commonly called "personal injury law." Most tort claims require a showing of a duty owed to the Plaintiff, a breach of that duty by the Defendant, a showing that the breach caused the damages, and a showing that damages actually occurred.
Unlike criminal law, which requires statutes explicitly forbidding acts, personal injury law is often derived from "common law." The common law comes from judicial tradition that evolves over the years. Statutes have an effect on personal injury, but decisions are often based on principles espoused by the legal system. Louisiana, where the law is derived from the state's code, is the exception.
Personal Injury Resource Center
- Elements of a Personal Injury Claim
- Recovering Damages
- Types of Personal Injury Claims
- Civil Justice Organizations
- Civil Trial Certifications
- How to Hire a Personal Injury Lawyer
- Personal Injury Resources
The plaintiff, or person filing the lawsuit, must show that, more likely than not, every element of their claim element is met in order to recover. This is called the burden of proof.
In a criminal case, the prosecution must prove than the defendant is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. On the other hand, in a civil case the standard is by a preponderance of the evidence or slight tipping of the scales. In a personal injury case, the plaintiff only must show that there is more than a 50 percent chance that what he or she says happened, happened. If the plaintiff can prove his or her case, the defendant, or person being sued, is found "liable."
Different types of torts for personal injury claims include intentional torts, negligence, strict liability and products liability. Each different type of claim has different elements.
Intentional torts include assault, battery, slander, libel, false imprisonment, intentional infliction of emotional distress, trespass, malicious prosecution, abuse of process, and conversion. Three different elements typically apply to intentional torts claims:
- Act: The defendant must have made a decision to perform a specific act. This is called a "volitional movement." The act must have been within the defendant's control to perform.
- Intent: For intentional torts, intent can be specific or general. Specific intent means the defendant engaged in the act with the goal of bringing about the consequences. For example, if the defendant punched the plaintiff in the face for the purpose of hurting the plaintiff, then that is specific intent. General intent means that the defendant knew with substantial certainty that the consequences will occur. If the defendant pulls a chair out from under the plaintiff and the plaintiff attempts to sit and is injured, then, while the defendant may not have intended to cause injury, he or she should have known it would occur.
- Causation: The plaintiff must prove the defendant's act caused the consequences.
Unlike other tort claims, the plaintiff is not required to prove that he or she was damaged for the defendant to be found liable. In intentional torts, punitive damages may be available, depending on the jurisdiction. Punitive damages are to punish the defendant for his or her bad actions.
Negligence claims occur when the defendant was supposed to act a certain way, or not act in a certain way, and fails to do so. Negligence is the primary theory behind most slip and fall cases, auto accident cases and medical malpractice cases. There are four major elements to negligence claims:
- Duty: The plaintiff must show that the defendant owed a duty of care to foreseeable plaintiffs. The basic standard is the duty to act as a reasonable person in whatever the defendant is engaged in doing. For example, a driver has the duty to operate a vehicle the way a reasonable person would drive, and a reasonable person would generally not drive while reading a text message from a friend. However, duties may be different. A professional, like a doctor, has a duty to act like a similar professional in good standing would act. A property owner's duty to a door-to-door salesman is different than the property owner's duty to an invited guest.
- Breach: The defendant must have failed in his or her duty. The breach can be an act. For example, if a roofer and tosses materials off of a roof without checking to see if a person is underneath, then that likely constitutes a breach of the roofer's duty to act as a reasonable person. It could also be a failure to act. If a store manager is alerted that there was a spill and does not promptly send an employee to clean the mess, a person who slips and falls on that spill likely has a strong case that the store owed a duty to its guests to repair known dangerous conditions, and failed to meet that duty.
- Causation: Causation means both that the breach of duty was the literal, actual cause of the plaintiff's damages - but for the defendant's actions, the plaintiff would not have suffered damages. It also means that the damages were caused in the normal incident of and within the increased risk of the defendant's breach. This is called proximate cause, and the general test is whether the damages are foreseeable. For example, the defendant leaves a flammable material out in the open on a clear day. Lightning from a sudden storm strikes the material, and the resulting fire injures the plaintiff. The defendant may have breached a duty with his irresponsible action, and but for that action, the plaintiff would not have been injured. However, the defendant may successful argue that he could not foreseen that lightning would strike
- Damages: Damages in a negligence case include all damages, past, present and future. In an auto accident, a liable defendant will not only be responsible for the damages caused to the car and the resulting medical bills, but also for any lost ability to work due to injuries and future care if the plaintiff was disabled.
Strict liability means that the defendant is liable for damages, regardless of whether or not he or she was at fault. This usually applies when the defendant is engaged in a dangerous activity, such as anything involving explosives.
For example, if a mining company is using explosives on a mine and exercised every precaution, but a piece of debris still flew off and hit the plaintiff, then that company is likely liable. It is also applicable with an animal that has previously shown a propensity to be dangerous, or is a wild animal. For instance, if a dog that has previously bitten a person before gets loose by no fault of the owner and bites another person, the owner is likely liable.
The elements to a strict liability claim are the same as the elements for a negligence claim, except that the plaintiff must show the defendant had an absolute duty to maintain safety.
Different types of theories can apply to a products liability claim, but the general concept is that companies should not place defective products into the stream of commerce. Possible liable parties could include the manufacturer, the shipper and the merchant who sold the product.
A defect can be either a manufacturing defect or a design defect. A manufacturing defect means the product was different from other products in a way that makes it dangerous beyond the expectation of a normal consumer. A design defect means the entire line of products is defective because of a flaw in the design, and a less dangerous alternative or change to the product would have been economically feasible.
In many cases, the defendant will be covered by an insurance policy. Legally, all drivers must carry at least liability insurance on their vehicles. Most commercial establishments will have an insurance policy to cover accidents that occur on the premises. Many individuals have homeowner's insurance policies that at least cover accidents that occur on their property, and many have policies that cover other instances in which they get sued.
If the offending act is covered by the policy, the insurance company will typically represent the defendant. Insurance companies will often attempt to settle matters, calculating that the cost of litigating the matter is more than the settlement they offer, or calculating that it is likely they will lose. The plaintiff's lawyer will often seek to negotiate a higher settlement. It is up to the plaintiff whether or not to accept a settlement offer.
If the defendant is not covered by an insurance policy, recovering for damages might be significantly more difficult, especially if the defendant is an individual. Tools like liens or wage garnishment may be available, depending on the jurisdiction and the situation. However, some people are "judgment proof," meaning that regardless of their liability, they are unable to pay.
In most cases, the jury will decide the amount of damages to be awarded. Judges and appellate courts may reduce this amount, however. Several states have limited the ability of plaintiffs to seek justice from a jury of peers by placing a cap on the amount of damages that may be awarded. This is sometimes called "tort reform." It most often occurs for medical malpractice cases, but some state legislatures, at the behest of insurance companies, have expanded it farther.
Many types of incidents can lead to a personal injury claim:
- Medical Malpractice: Doctors and other medical professionals have a high duty of care, and breaching that duty can have catastrophic results on the patient. Many states limit recovery for medical malpractice.
Find a medical malpractice lawyer.
- Motor Vehicle Accidents: Injuries from auto accidents are common, and range widely from minor whiplash to debilitating injuries and death.
Find a motor vehicle accident lawyer.
- Pedestrian Accidents: When a large, heavy vehicle hits a pedestrian, the pedestrian is almost always the loser. Pedestrians may recover from liable drivers' insurance policies.
Find a pedestrian accident lawyer.
- Railroad Accidents / FELA: Railroad workers are specifically covered by the Federal Employers' Liability Act, and may recover from their employers.
Find a railroad accident lawyer.
- Boating Accidents: Accidents can occur on boats and other waterborne vehicles, just as accidents happen with motor vehicles on the land.
Find a boating accident lawyer.
- Motorcycle Accidents: Motorcycle accidents can be particularly devastating the victim.
Find a motorcycle accident lawyer.
- Commercial Truck Accidents : Commercial trucks tend to be large, and may be able to cause significantly more damage that a normal motor vehicle.
Find a commercial truck accident lawyer.
- Pedestrian Accidents: When a large, heavy vehicle hits a pedestrian, the pedestrian is almost always the loser. Pedestrians may recover from liable drivers' insurance policies.
- Mass Tort: A mass tort is when several plaintiffs file suit together against one or more corporate defendants. Mass torts often occur when a large number of people are exposed to a toxic chemical or other environmental matters.
Find a mass tort lawyer.
- Insurance Bad Faith: When a person makes a claim to his or her insurance company for an incident covered under his or her policy, the insurance may attempt to deny the claim, prompting the insured to sue his or her insurance company.
- Wrongful Death: If a person dies due to the negligent or tortious actions of another, his or her successors may sue the wrongdoer and recover.
Find a wrongful death lawyer.
- Class Action: A class action is when several plaintiffs file suit against a defendant. Class actions can happen in products liability cases, or when a service provider, like a bank, wrongfully charges a fee.
Find a lawyer for class action lawsuits.
- Drug Litigation: A pharmaceutical company may market a drug that is dangerous and has not been properly tested. People who took the drug may have a cause of action against the company.
Find a drug litigation lawyer.
- Workplace Injuries: The employer is often liable for injuries that occur at work. While injuries are most common at workplaces with heavy equipment or dangerous chemicals, they can happen at any place of employment.
Find a workplace injury lawyer.
- Nursing Home Abuse : Nursing homes are entrusted with a high duty of care. If they breach that duty, it could come at a high cost for the residents.
Find a nursing home abuse lawyer.
- Dog Bites: While extremely common pets that are usually docile, dogs can be dangerous, and their bites can cause severe injury and even death.
Find a dog bite lawyer.
- Premises Liability : Whenever an injury occurs on someone's property, the issue of the property owner's liability should be closely examined.
Find a premises liability lawyer.
- Product Liability: If a company puts a defective product into the stream of commerce, it could be liable to anyone injured by the product.
Find a products liability lawyer.
- Spinal Cord Injury:The spine serves as both the backbone, which the entire body is connects together, and as the conduit for nerves from the brain to the rest of the body. An injury can have severe effects.
Find a spinal cord injury lawyer.
- Brain Injury: Even a relatively minor brain injury can have significant effect on a person's life, and a major one can be completely debilitating.
Find a brain injury lawyer.
Attorneys who practice personal injury law have a significant stake in issues pertaining to access to courts and the right to a trial by jury. Additionally, personal injury lawyers are litigators, and litigation is a skill that must be practiced continually. It is advantageous for them to join an organization that both lobbies on such issues and provides continuing legal education. The American Association for Justice is just such a national organization.
Additionally, the AAJ has many state affiliates, and there are other state civil justice organizations and trial lawyer associations that attorneys may join to stay on top of local and state law.
Another important organization for personal injury and civil trial law atotrneys is the American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA). Since 1958, the American Board of Trial Advocates (known as "ABOTA") has worked to advance the civil jury trial and elevate the standards of integrity, civility and professionalism in the legal profession. The organization has more than 6,700 members including lawyers and judges spread among 95 Chapters in all 50 States and the District of Columbia.
The skill of litigating is important to the practice of personal injury law. If an attorney has been certified in civil trial law or personal injury law, that means a recognized third party has reviewed that lawyer's qualification and deemed them accomplished in that skill. Both national and state organizations award specialty certifications.
- National Board of Trial Advocacy - Formerly known as the National Board of Legal Specialty Certification, this national, American Bar Association-accredited organization offers certifications in both civil trial advocacy and civil pretrial advocacy. To become certified in civil trial advocacy, the attorney must participate in at least 45 days of trial, among other requirements. For pretrial, the attorney must show substantial involvement in a variety of cases.
Find a nationally certified civil trial advocate.
Find a nationally certified civil pretrial advocate.
- Arizona State Bar Board of Legal Specialization: In Arizona, attorneys can become certified in personal injury and wrongful death law. Attorneys must show that at least 50 to 70 percent of their practice is devoted to the area, among other requirements.
- Florida Bar Board of Legal Specialization and Education: Florida personal injury lawyers may become designated as specialists in civil law. To earn certification, lawyers must show substantial involvement, at least five years experience, pass an exam, pass a peer review procedure and meet education requirements.
- Minnesota State Bar Association: Attorneys in Minnesota can become certified in civil trial law by the MSBA. Civil trial specialists must pass a written exam, show experience and involvement in the field and meet other requirements.
- New Jersey Board on Attorney Certification: New Jersey lawyers may seek certification in civil trial law from their state's Board. Certified civil trial lawyers must meet education, experience and involvement standards, pass a test and submit references.
- New Mexico Board of Legal Specialization: Civil law trial specialists in New Mexico may be certified by the Board of Legal Specialization. There are requirements of involvement in civil trial practice, experience requirements, and a written test.
- Texas Board of Legal Specialization: Texas lawyers may become specialized in personal injury trial law. To be designated a specialist, Texas lawyers must show minimum education and involvement standards are met, pass a test and provide references.
A person who has been injured may see television commercials in which brash, loud attorneys, or even a celebrity spokesperson, claims to be a personal injury lawyer who can get his or her clients a big reward. Typically, these are actually referral services, and the big-name attorney may have spent little time in the courtroom himself or herself. While many fine attorneys use such referral services, a personal injury victim may also find an attorney himself or herself.
An attorney who is board-certified in civil trial or personal injury law has been reviewed by an independent organization and deemed qualified. A personal injury lawyer who is a member of a civil justice organization or trial lawyers association usually has access to resources and education.
Typically, in a personal injury case, the lawyer will work on a contingency fee. That means the lawyer will take his or her fee from the settlement or the award. If you recover nothing in the litigation, you do not have to pay the lawyer. Fees are something a person should discuss before agreeing to hire an attorney.
ABA Principles for Juries and Jury Trials: The American Bar Association states the principles of attorneys nationwide for jury trials, which are an important element of personal injury cases.
Pound Civil Justice Institute: Named after former Harvard Law School Dean Roscoe Pound, the Pound Institute is a Washington, D.C. based think tank that studies civil justice issues.
How to Find a Personal Injury Attorney in Our Directory
Use our directory to find the best personal injury attorney for your case. Find out more about how much personal injury attorneys make, questions to ask the attorney during the initial consultation, and the best ways to find legal advice after an accident or injury. In a personal injury case, the person who suffered the injury will ask "What is my case worth?" Use our directory to find the attorneys that can best answer that questions after evaluating your case.
Our online directory ranks attorneys according to objective criteria such as the attorney's membership and leadership in trusted legal organizations, and whether the attorney has become a board certified specialist in a state sponsored or national program recognized by the American Bar Association. The ratings in our directory help you find the right attorney for your case.
This article was last updated on Friday, January 29, 2016.