Common Law Myths: We’re Ambulance Chasers an Overview of What Personal Injury Attorneys do in Contrast to the Misconception

Sep 02, 2014

At Agee, Clymer, Mitchell & Portman, we are Ohio personal injury lawyers. Some people improperly refer to personal injury attorneys as “ambulance chasers.” The term refers to an attorney that attempts to profit quickly off another person’s misfortune. The classic example would be an attorney loitering around the emergency room and handing victims his card as EMTs carry them in on stretchers. The term usually describes an attorney looking for quick profits—someone that wants to settle quickly and not fight for the compensation the victim deserves. Sadly, some attorneys fall into to this category.

The Ohio personal injury attorneys at Agee, Clymer, Mitchell, & Portman take a different approach than ambulance chasers. We seek to vindicate clients’ rights and compensate them for their loss. Our primary focus is the client—not a quick settlement. To understand how we fight for victims, here is some information on what a personal injury attorney in Ohio does.

Personal Injury Attorneys

Personal injury attorneys provide legal representation to individuals that have been injured, physically or psychologically, because of a negligent wrongdoer’s actions. Personal injury attorneys have expertise in an area of law referred to as tort law.

Tort Law

Black’s Law Dictionary defines a tort as follows: “a breach of a duty that the law imposes on persons who stand in a particular relation to one another.” What does that mean? Simply put, tort law protects individuals harmed by the actions of others if certain requirements are met.

A tort has the following requirements: (1) duty, (2) breach, (3) causation, and (4) damages. Duty means that the individuals had a duty to each other. For example, a driver has a duty to drive safely or a duty to yield to pedestrians. Breach means a violation of that duty. A breach of duty usually involves a negligent act. An example would be a driver recklessly or negligently hitting a walking pedestrian. Causation means the liable party must cause the damages. In this example, the driver—not someone else—caused the damage to the pedestrian by hitting him with his car. Damages require that the injured party incur actual monetary damages, such as the pedestrian’s hospital bills and lost wages. If all four elements exist—duty, breach, causation, and damages—then tort law may protect the injured individual.

Preparing a Case

Personal injury lawyers in Ohio interview prospective clients and evaluate their cases to determine the legal matter, and identify the nature of the issues rooted within the plaintiff’s larger problem.

A typical case has four stages:

If the attorney determines that there is a case, the attorney proceeds as follows:

Stage 1: Information Gathering

Stage 2: Preparing Settlement Package

Stage 3: Negotiation and Settlement/Trial

Stage 4: Disbursement

Stage 1: Information Gathering

Personal injury lawyers extensively research every issue to build a strong case. An attorney will gather the basic facts surrounding the case, information regarding any insurance policies involved in the case, and damages resulting from the injury. There are a number of types of damages that a party can claim. The following is a list of some of the damages a party can seek, depending on the type of accident.

  • Medical expenses
  • Loss of wages
  • Property damage
  • Permanent disfigurement and disability
  • Emotional distress
Stage 2: Preparing Settlement Package

Once the attorney and staff have gathered all of the information about the injuries and damages, they will prepare a settlement package for the insurance companies from whom a recovery is sought. Next, they present the settlement package or claim to insurance adjusters who are trained to evaluate injury cases.

Stage 3: Settlement and Negotiation/Trial

The insurance adjuster receives the package and reviews the information. After reviewing the information, the company will usually offer a settlement. Here the attorney will negotiate with the insurance company in order to get a fair award.

If the attorney cannot reach a settlement, the attorney will take the case to court. The attorney relies on tort law to bring a claim against the insurance company. After filing a claim, there are still many opportunities to reach a settlement before the case reaches the actual trial.

Stage 4: Disbursement

When a settlement is reached, or a jury verdict is rendered, the insurance company will send the attorney a release and the settlement check. Typically, the check is made out to the client and the attorney. The attorney deposits the check into her trust account. Once the check has cleared, the attorney’s staff will figure out what costs have been expended, whether any health care providers have liens against the fund, and what the attorney’s fee is. Then the attorney disperses the remainder of the funds to the client.

The ultimate professional responsibility of a personal injury lawyer is to help plaintiffs obtain the justice and compensation they deserve for their losses and suffering through advocacy, oral arguments, client counseling, and legal advice.

If you were injured in an accident, a personal injury can help you get the compensation you deserve. Agee Clymer Mitchell & Portman  represents personal injury claimants in Ohio, helping them hold the responsible parties accountable. Contact our personal injury attorneys now to schedule a free consultation.

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Worker’s Comp Lawyers Columbus, Ohio - Agee Clymer

140 E. Town St. #1100
Columbus, OH 43215