Personal injury attorneys are lawyers who represent clients who have been injured due to the negligence of another person or entity. They work to get the maximum amount of compensation for their clients in the shortest amount of time possible.
Personal injury attorneys must be familiar with the law, the courts, and the insurance industry. They must be good at working with people and have excellent communication skills. Personal injury attorneys also need to be aggressive in order to win cases for their clients.
Some personal injury attorneys work for law firms, while others are self-employed. Some personal injury attorneys specialize in specific types of cases, like car accidents or medical malpractice.
Personal Injury Attorney Job Duties
Personal injury attorneys are responsible for a wide range of duties, including:
- Providing legal services to clients who have been injured by someone else’s negligence or misconduct
- Interviewing clients to gather facts about the case and the accident
- Reviewing insurance policies to determine coverage limits and investigating whether there were errors or omissions in processing claims
- Preparing and filing legal documents such as complaints, motions, and briefs
- Gathering documentation of damages to support an insurance claim, including medical bills, lost wages, photographs of injuries sustained by the client, or other evidence that supports the personal injury claim
- Negotiating with insurance companies on behalf of clients for settlement offers
- Representing clients in court if necessary
Personal Injury Attorney Salary & Outlook
The median annual wage for personal injury attorneys is $112,019. The top earners make over $183,000.
The employment of personal injury attorneys is expected to grow at an average rate over the next decade. The growth in demand for personal injury lawyers stems from an increase in litigation in general and a growing interest in pursuing civil suits against individuals and companies that harm consumers.
Personal Injury Attorney Job Requirements
The requirements for personal injury attorneys are as follows:
Education: Personal injury attorneys must have a law degree. To become a licensed attorney, they must complete three years of law school and pass the bar exam.
Training: Many personal injury attorneys receive hands-on experience working for a law firm or in another legal capacity. They may also complete internships or externships that allow them to learn the law, meet with clients and work on cases.
Certifications & Licenses: All personal injury attorneys must be licensed by their state. These licenses require candidates to pass the bar exam and meet all eligibility requirements.
Personal Injury Attorney Skills
A personal injury attorney must have the following skills:
Negotiation skills: Personal injury attorneys must be able to negotiate effectively with opposing counsel and settle cases without going to trial.
Legal knowledge: In order to be a successful personal injury attorney, you must have a strong understanding of legal concepts such as negligence, liability, and damages.
Research skills: You will need to conduct research on various topics, including case law, laws that apply to your client’s situation, and more.
Client communication skills: Personal injury attorneys must be able to communicate clearly with clients in order to gain their trust and confidence.
An ability to manage time well: This job requires hard work and long hours on behalf of the attorney. An individual must be able to effectively manage his or her time in order to meet deadlines and accomplish tasks within specified time frames.
An ability to handle pressure: This job involves dealing with stress and pressure on a regular basis. Individuals must be able to handle pressure effectively in order to do their jobs well.
Personal Injury Attorney Work Environment
Personal injury attorneys usually work in law offices, either alone or with other attorneys. Many of their clients are people who have been injured in accidents or had property damaged. Because many of their clients are seeking compensation for injuries, personal injury attorneys’ work often involves dealing with insurance companies. Therefore, they sometimes spend time in courtrooms.
Personal injury attorneys must be able to deal with stressful situations on a regular basis. Because their work is so emotionally charged, they can have difficulty separating work from home life.
Personal Injury Attorney Career Path
All first-year lawyers work on the same problems: reviewing and analyzing legal documents and learning basic legal In the early years, personal injury attorneys spend a lot of time building their practices by doing research, interviewing clients, and putting out feelers for referrals. Those who get started in a busy practice get a quick education in the field. In the first two years, personal injury attorneys devote most of their energy to building a practice and have little time or energy to devote to anything else. They do not have much contact with other attorneys during this period. Clients tend not to pay until a settlement is reached, so cash flow can be a problem.
Five Years Out
By the fifth year, lawyers begin to specialize in personal injury cases, filing lawsuits and presenting cases to juries. Personal injury attorneys who have an exceptional grasp of their specialty may become partners in law firms and eventually own their own firms. Those with a broader knowledge base may take jobs with insurance companies or other corporations as claims adjusters or claim representatives. Compensation increases both for those who remain in the field and those who move into related fields such as corporate law, insurance, or real estate law.
Ten Years Out
Some of the most successful personal injury lawyers are now involved in the management of larger law firms or corporations that employ them. Others continue practicing law on their own, but now have more time to pursue personal interests. They can even afford to take on more complex cases if they choose.
Personal Injury Attorney Trends
Here are three trends influencing how personal injury attorneys work. Personal injury attorneys will need to stay up-to-date on these developments to keep their skills relevant and maintain a competitive advantage in the workplace.
Increased Scrutiny on Personal Injury Claims
In the past, it was relatively easy for personal injury attorneys to bring cases to court without being held accountable for their methods or outcomes. However, in recent years this has changed due to a greater emphasis on transparency and accountability across the legal profession.
As a result, lawyers in this field will need to have a greater understanding of best practices that protect clients, while also maintaining their own reputations.
Increase in Alternative Dispute Resolution
Alternative dispute resolution (ADR) is becoming increasingly popular among businesses and consumers due to its efficiency and cost-effectiveness.
ADR strategies, such as mediation, can be more beneficial for clients who do not want to go through the lengthy legal process of a traditional lawsuit.
The Importance of Social Media
Social media has become a vital component in the personal injury industry, and lawyers must learn how to harness this medium to help promote their business.
By using Facebook, Twitter, and other social networks, lawyers can build trust with potential clients and educate them about their services in a more personable way than they might be able to on a website or television commercial.
How to Become a Personal Injury Attorney
1. Planning Your Career
Becoming a personal injury attorney requires both extensive schooling and a large time commitment. Before you commit to this career, it’s important to ask yourself if you have the motivation to put in the necessary hours. Becoming a lawyer requires that you complete an undergraduate degree for four years and attend law school for three years.
Once you become a practicing attorney, you will need to devote many hours each week to reading legal publications and working on cases. Because these jobs can be very demanding, make sure that you enjoy the work before pursuing it as a career.
2. Writing a Resume
The best resumes for personal injury attorney positions should emphasize excellent communication and analytical skills. You will want to start this section by listing your abilities to analyze evidence, communicate effectively with clients, and organize cases.
Then, list previous work experience that demonstrates these abilities. For example, if you have written briefs or worked on cases that were eventually settled or went to court then be sure to include details about these. When detailing your work history, include client testimonials that show how you made an impact.
3. Applying for Jobs
In this field, connections are key to finding a job. Start by attending events hosted by the American Bar Association and other professional organizations. You can also join online communities, such as LinkedIn or Facebook groups, where you can network with people who work in the field and find out what it’s like to work for a specific company.
If you have an idea of where you want to work, you can start applying for jobs at those companies directly, especially if you have friends who work there already. If you’re not sure where you want to go yet, though, it can be helpful to attend informational interviews so that you can talk to people from different firms and ask about their working environments and practices. Then you can decide if that’s the kind of place you’d like to work at.
4. Ace the Interview
As an attorney interviewing for a position at a firm, you will most likely be asked general questions about your background, knowledge of the law, and experience in different areas of law. You will also likely face challenging questions that test your people skills.
To prepare, look into the types of cases that this firm handles—are they personal injury or commercial? How large is the firm? Does it have a strong presence in the community? Consider all of these factors while preparing for your interview.
You should expect to be asked questions about your interpersonal skills and how you would fit into the day-to-day operations of the firm. In addition to your background and experience, an interviewer may inquire about your goals and what you hope to get out of working at this particular firm. They may also ask why you are interested in working there.
In order to impress during an interview, make sure that you know a good deal about the company that you’re interviewing with. This will give you more confidence when answering questions, which can easily show through in interviews. Before going to the interview, review information about the company so that if any information comes up during the interview, you can talk about it confidently.