When you are injured in an automobile accident, industrial incident, or other situation, you might consider hiring a personal injury attorney.  Some of your friends and family, or the insurance company, may tell you that you do not need an attorney.  When you are considering whether to hire an attorney or not, you should understand what a personal injury attorney can do for you.

While I am unable to speak for all personal injury attorneys, I can generally explain what I do for my own clients. Again each case is different, but a typical personal injury case, prepared properly, will require much or all of the following:

  1. Conduct an initial interview to get acquainted with the client;
  2. Learn the facts of the case;
  3. Learn about the potential defendants;
  4. Learn about my client’s injuries;
  5. Identify treating physicians, witnesses, etc.;
  6. Teach and educate the client about the litigation process in personal injury claims;
  7. Locate and gather all important initial documents and records to support the claim (these will typically include medical records and bills, accident report, past and current employment records and tax returns, among others);
  8. Obtain witness statements;
  9. Obtain physical evidence;
  10. Take or obtain photographs or diagrams of the accident scene;
  11. Investigate to determine who will be the appropriate defendants;
  12. Investigate to determine all potential sources of insurance coverage;
  13. Obtain, read and analyze all applicable insurance policies to determine all available coverage for the client’s damages;
  14. Evaluate client’s own insurance coverage;
  15. Suggest what coverages client may purchase for future protection;
  16. Examine the client’s health insurance, governmental or another benefit plan to determine whether any money they paid for accident-related medical bills must legally be repaid;
  17. If necessary, negotiate the amount to be repaid, if any, from any recovery to health insurers.
  18. Conferences with the client’s treating physicians in order to fully understand the client’s medical diagnosis and prognosis;
  19. Obtain reports or specific statements from client’s doctors on medical causation, diagnosis, and prognosis;
  20. Research, hire and obtain experts needed to support the client’s claim;
  21. Evaluate and research all legal issues that affect the case;
  22. Initiate contact with and periodically discuss with the insurance adjuster the client’s claim;
  23. Ensure insurance company has necessary information to set appropriate reserves;
  24. Discuss and make recommendation to client about settlement amounts based on specific facts of case;
  25. Negotiate with the insurance adjuster to attempt settlement of the claim prior to filing a lawsuit;
  26. Determine all courts where the suit can be filed, and determine which court is best;
  27. Preparing and draft the petition or complaint;
  28. Determine the exact names and addresses of the defendants as well as their agents for service of process, if any, so that the petition or complaint can be properly served.
  29. File and arrange for personal service of the petition or complaint upon the defendants as the law requires.
  30. Prepare, draft and issue written discovery questions including interrogatories, request for production of documents, and requests for admission of facts for the defendants to answer under oath;
  31. Respond to interrogatories, request for production of documents and request for admissions issued by the defendants to the client;
  32. Fully educate and prepare the client for deposition;
  33. Prepare notices of deposition for all witnesses we will depose;
  34. Prepare for and take the depositions of the defendants, independent fact witnesses, insurance company personnel, physicians or other expert witnesses;
  35. Meet with the client’s treating physicians to prepare them for deposition;
  36. Discuss with the client what to expect and otherwise prepare the client for any medical examination to be conducted by the defendants’ medical experts;
  37. Review, analyze and summarize all records, and bills from the client’s treating physicians and other healthcare providers;
  38. Prepare expert witnesses hired for their depositions;
  39. Review and evaluate all expert reports;
  40. File all necessary documents and pleadings in court as required;
  41. Prepare necessary motions for summary judgment;
  42. Prepare and respond to all defense motions;
  43. Prepare and argue any motions on evidence for trial;
  44. Prepare the client, physicians, expert and other witnesses for trial testimony;
  45. Organize and compile all medical records, bills and other written or exhibits for trial;
  46. Prepare enlargements of certain exhibits for display to the jury;
  47. Prepare models, timelines, charts, diagrams or other demonstrative evidence for trial;
  48. Prepare for and attend mediation if the case is mediated;
  49. Prepare and have served subpoenas upon all witnesses to command attendance at trial;
  50. Prepare and conduct for jury selection;
  51. Prepare and give opening statements;
  52. Prepare and take all testimony;
  53. Prepare and argue necessary trial motions;
  54. Prepare and give closing arguments;
  55. Try the case before a judge or jury;
  56. Evaluate the verdict rendered and research any new legal issues that arise during the course of trial;
  57. Draft any post-trial briefs or motions;
  58. Obtain trial transcripts and examine the trial record to determine if an appeal is warranted;
  59. Research and draft all briefs required if an appeal is filed by either side.

There may be other items necessary in any particular case and some of these items may take multiple steps.  Your personal injury attorney should keep you advised about the progress of your case throughout this process.

Likewise, you should keep your attorney fully aware of any medical treatment or other developments relating to your injury. You and your attorney should stay on the same page regarding the progress of your case.


Loyd J. Bourgeois
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Nationally recognized attorney dedicated to fighting life's legal battles with compassion and care