When Do You Need a Personal Injury Lawyer?

A lawyer's help can be key to getting the best result in any personal injury claim, but it's crucial in certain kinds of cases.

By , J.D. · University of San Francisco School of Law

In some situations, handling a personal injury case on your own isn't a bad idea, as long as you're willing to fight for a fair injury settlement. But certain kinds of cases (and certain circumstances) almost always call for the skills and expertise of a personal injury lawyer, and we'll spotlight those scenarios in this article.

Claims Involving Serious or Long-Term Injuries

Countless kinds of incidents can lead to the filing of a personal injury claim, from car accidents, to slip and falls and dog bites—even intentional actions like assault. But the one constant in any in injury case is this: The amount of your compensation ("damages" in the language of the law) is mostly determined by the seriousness of your injuries. And the seriousness of your injuries is typically measured by:

  • the total amount of your medical bills
  • the impact of your injuries on your life and livelihood (including your future income)
  • the mental and physical "pain and suffering" you've experienced because of your injuries, and
  • the length of time it will take for you to fully recover from your injuries.

As the costs and impact of your injuries increase, the range of compensation you might end up receiving becomes wider. Some accidents can significantly affect your physical capabilities for a long time, or even result in permanent disability. Others might cause permanent disfigurement or scarring. It can be a difficult business to:

That's why, any time a claim involves serious or long-term injuries, putting it in the hands of an experienced lawyer is the best way to make sure you receive compensation at the high end of the range.

Medical Malpractice Lawsuits

If it looks like your injury was caused by a health care provider's mistake—including negligence on the part of a doctor, nurse, specialist, or a hospital—you might have a valid medical malpractice claim. These kinds of cases are tailor-made for an experienced lawyer, given that:

  • filing a medical malpractice lawsuit often means jumping over extra procedural hurdles that don't apply to run-of-the-mill injury cases, and
  • proving a medical malpractice cause usually requires compiling, analyzing, and presenting complex medical evidence alongside expert medical witnesses and other consultants.

Learn more about medical malpractice claims and settlements.

Lawsuits Over Harm Caused By Dangerous or Defective Products

When a pharmaceutical drug, a vehicle, or a consumer product causes injury— because it was defective, or because its manufacturer didn't properly warn of its dangers, for example—anyone who's been harmed might have a product liability lawsuit.

These cases can be particularly challenging on a number of fronts, not least because because car companies, product manufacturers, pharmaceutical giants, and other major corporations have endless resources to protect themselves from legal exposure.

As with medical malpractice cases, the success or failure of a product liability lawsuit often comes down to the strength of your expert witnesses and the scientific evidence linking your injury or illness to the product you used. This is where you'll lean heavily on your lawyer's professional network of experts and consultants to put together your best case. Learn more about proving a product liability claim.

When the Insurance Company Isn't Offering a Fair Injury Settlement

Maybe you're making an injury-related insurance claim and the insurance adjuster is saying that you're the one at fault for the accident that led to your injuries. Maybe they're claiming you had a preexisting injury that's to blame for your current condition. In some situations, regardless of the seriousness of your injuries or the amount of your medical bills and lost income, the insurance company doesn't seem to be taking your claim seriously.

When an insurance company simply refuses to make any fair settlement offer at all, there's no substitute for having an experienced legal professional on your side.

Remember that most injury lawyers take cases under a contingency fee agreement, meaning the lawyer only gets paid if you receive a settlement or court award. So, if a personal injury attorney is willing to take your case on and stand up to the insurance company—even if that means taking things to court through a personal injury lawsuit—it almost always makes financial sense.

Finding a Good Personal Injury Lawyer

So, if your case meets the criteria we've discussed here—or if you're just looking for the peace of mind that comes with handing things off to a legal professional— how do you go about finding the right fit?

One good way to find a lawyer is to ask family and friends if they can recommend one. Or, if you know any lawyers in your social or professional circles, it never hurts to ask if they can refer you to a colleague or connection who handles personal injury cases. You can also use sites like Nolo to connect with an injury lawyer in your area. Get more tips on finding the right personal injury lawyer for you and your case.

Make the Most of Your Claim
Get the compensation you deserve.
We've helped 285 clients find attorneys today.
There was a problem with the submission. Please refresh the page and try again
Full Name is required
Email is required
Please enter a valid Email
Phone Number is required
Please enter a valid Phone Number
Zip Code is required
Please add a valid Zip Code
Please enter a valid Case Description
Description is required

How It Works

  1. Briefly tell us about your case
  2. Provide your contact information
  3. Choose attorneys to contact you