Personal injury law holds individuals and corporations accountable for acts of negligence and malicious intent. Personal injury law protects you and your family by requiring guilty parties to compensate for their harmful – and sometimes deadly – acts.
Some people, and even some corporations, don’t follow the law unless there are consequences to their actions. By ensuring those who act negligently are reprimanded – both legally and financially – we can reduce future injuries and even save lives.
Examples of negligence include, but are not limited to, hospitals allowing medical malpractice, corporations manufacturing defective products, auto companies designing dangerous cars, a hospital failing to diagnose an illness, an agrochemical company concealing the dangers of its pesticides from farmers, a pharmacy dispensing the wrong medication, or a tobacco company marketing their cancer-causing cigarettes to children.
Personal injury law protects individuals by setting precedents for people and corporations to follow the law and avoid tragic outcomes. For those who are still impacted by malicious intent and negligence, personal injury law helps bring them compensation for their suffering.
Trial law and personal injury law are not the same. Most cases settle out of court before going to trial, and many personal injury lawyers never go to trial. Many people believe that all lawyers are trial lawyers; but in fact, going to trial requires specific skills that are very rare.
The best results are achieved in a personal injury case when the defense knows the plaintiff is prepared to win at trial – and that the plaintiff will not settle until proper justice and compensation are served.
Personal injury law allows you to recover compensation for your pain and suffering. For example, plaintiffs often recover past and future medical expenses, past and future lost wages or the cost of a funeral. In addition, the negligent person, corporation or insurance company can be required to compensate a victim for disfigurement, disability, inconvenience, loss of companionship, and loss of enjoyment of life.
There is another kind of recovery under personal injury law known as punitive damages. Punitive damages serve to punish the defendant for intentional or reckless conduct. They’re meant to make sure that defendants don’t profit for their misconduct even after paying compensation, and to send a message to others to deter future poor conduct. For example, when a company knowingly sells a product that is defective and will kill people, punitive damages are meant to punish such unlawful conduct.
When looking for a lawyer, do your homework. We believe you should always look for a great trial lawyer rather than a personal injury lawyer if you suffer any serious injury.
Look for an attorney with experience in the kind of lawsuit you have – both in and out of the courtroom. It is also important that you seek out a lawyer who is a good communicator, as the legal process is often long and complex. We also believe you should look for a lawyer who is compassionate. You want a lawyer who genuinely cares.
You can also lean on your community for recommendations. Ask other lawyers who they would want to represent them in the courtroom. Ask your friends and family the same questions: Who would you want to represent you in the courtroom? Who would you trust to win your case in front of a jury?
And most importantly, check the lawyer’s results. Looking at past results is an indication of the lawyer’s skills and expertise. Ask the lawyer how many cases they have tried, what kind of cases have they tried, and what the outcomes of those cases were. Results matter!
You may know that you’ve been hurt, but you may not know the truth about what caused your pain and suffering. It’s your lawyer’s job to find out who is responsible.
Sometimes, that answer isn’t obvious. For example, if you were injured in a car accident, an automotive defect may have caused the crash rather than the other driver. There may have been a defect in the way the road was designed which contradicted architectural plans or violated codes.
You may suspect you were the victim of medical malpractice, but instead your pharmacy made the mistake in filling your prescription. Another example is that of a farmer who develops a serious illness later in life, not realizing that it was an unsafe herbicide that caused the disease.
A great lawyer will uncover these answers and figure out who may be responsible. Sometimes lawyers will miss discovering the case – Kelley | Uustal has handled many important cases that were previously rejected by other law firms where we obtained tremendous outcomes.
First, make sure the individual is a Board Certified trial lawyer. Next, look at their results and experience trying cases. Most importantly, ask how many cases the lawyer handles. At some firms, one lawyer may handle thousands of cases. At Kelley | Uustal, our lawyers work on a few, select cases in their areas of expertise. Obviously, the results will be much different.
Technically, any lawyer can litigate a personal injury case. But I wouldn’t expect success from just any lawyer.
It takes at least ten years to hone the skills necessary to be a great trial lawyer. During those years, the lawyer must be gaining expertise in the courtroom and working with mentors to hone their skills. At Kelley | Uustal, we practice our skills in a specially-developed courtroom designed just for that purpose, and we go to trial all the time.
Our firm handles cases all over the country, but our main headquarters is in South Florida. It’s not uncommon in this part of the world to hear boaters, or boat designers, say, “There’s no replacement for displacement.” Displacement is a measure of the boat’s power. It’s the same for trial lawyers. If you want justice and a good and fair result, you need power in the courtroom.
Bad trial lawyers are very expensive.
In most states, personal injury lawyers charge a standard percentage of the recovered settlement as their fee. The fact that the percentage is standard often fools people into thinking that all lawyers charge the same.
Kelley | Uustal has taken many cases where a prior attorney pressured the client to settle. In one case, a lawyer told their client to settle for $25,000 or he would withdraw as her lawyer. When she refused, he withdrew. We won the same case at trial and recovered over $750,000. Our fee was $300,000 – far more than the $10,000 the other lawyer would have earned but, the client would have only gotten $15,000. With us, she recovered about $450,000. If she had taken the advice of her prior lawyer, it would have been a very expensive mistake.
This is even more important in cases with devastating injuries. We had a case where the prior law firm sought to settle the case for $1 million. We eventually recovered over $22 million. The client recovered almost $17 million – instead of just $500,000!
Don’t make the expensive mistake of hiring the wrong lawyer. Find a personal injury lawyer that has seen results and is allowed dedicated time to get the best results for your case. At Kelley | Uustal, our lawyers work on a few cases rather than thousands of cases like other firms. Obviously, the results will be different.
A litigator technically means a lawyer who litigates. However, the vast majority of lawsuits settle with no trial. Unfortunately, many litigators have never been to trial, much less developed the expertise.
But why would this matter if most cases settle out of court? Because the settlement value of the case is always determined by the potential risk. In other words, how likely is your lawyer to win at trial, and how big? Only an expert trial lawyer commands the highest settlements—even in cases that never go to trial.
We hope so, but Kelley | Uustal has won many cases that other firms turned down. We handled four cases in recent years that other lawyers thought couldn’t be won – and secured settlements or verdicts over $20 million.
So, in a wrongful death or personal injury case, get a second opinion. Or, like one of our clients, get eight second opinions! In their case, Kelley | Uustal uncovered a devious cover-up in a case that settled for over $20 million.
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