My Old Life as a Personal Injury Lawyer

In my life I have often been asked what life is like for a personal injury lawyer. Many people assume that a personal injury lawyer is impervious to the many stories of pain and suffering because we have heard so many. They assume that we have made millions of dollars during our careers and that we live life doing whatever we please.

Now that I have retired and am living in the UK I have had time to really consider what my old life as a personal injury lawyer was like, and I thought it could make an interesting blog post, so here it is.

A Personal Injury Attorney

To understand what my life was like then you have to understand what I did professionally. As a personal injury claims lawyer I went to battle for people who, through no fault of their own, had been injured by someone else’s negligent behaviour.

Many of the people I represented were injured to the point that their entire lives were changed forever. If those individuals did not have legal representation then the insurance companies would have paid them a small pittance that would not have been anywhere near the amount of money they had to put out on their injuries. I feel that I was an advocate for the people who could not stand up and fight for their own rights. I was a crusader for equality, and justice.

What kind of cases I was Involved in

During my days of active practice I represented people who were injured in slip and fall accidents, auto accidents, heavy machinery accidents, medical malpractice injuries, sports related injuries, birth related injuries and just about any other personal injury you could think of.

I represented any person who came to me with an injury that was the result of actions of another person, the lack of actions of another person, or equipment failure. I helped people to negotiate with the insurance companies and their solicitors. Some injury claims lawyers only practice one specific type of injury law, but I have worked on almost every type there is.

What kind of person makes a good personal injury lawyer?

In order to be successful in this profession a person must be able to have empathy for the pain and suffering of others. A good personal injury lawyer cares about other people and is capable of visualizing themselves in situations that are closely related to the ones their clients are going through.

The professionals must be determined in order to put forth the effort it requires to fight the big insurance companies and make them pay for the damages their clients are responsible for. A personal injury claim is looked on by the big insurance companies as a nuisance. The insurance representative will do everything in their power to pay the injured party the least amount of money that they can for the damages caused in their accident.

Sometimes insurance representatives make offers to injured people so fast after an accident that the injured person does not even know the full extent of their condition. As an attorney representing the injured I scrutinized these offers to determine if they were fair, or if they were simply a way to get someone to take a little money and forget that they had their lives altered. As an attorney I had to be educated on all aspects of the personal claims laws, and I even had to have a working knowledge of medical terminology.

I would also say that these attorneys have to be ready to be available to their clients virtually 24/7. Not all clients can come into an office so the attorney must be willing to go to medical facilities and to private homes to meet with their clients. Being available and flexible is crucial if you want to be a successful personal injury lawyer.

What do I consider to be a successful personal injury lawyer?

I consider a lawyer that has a client base that is represented tirelessly to be successful. If the lawyer can look back on the cases they helped and see that in more than ninety percent of the cases the people they represented were better off for having known them then they were a true success.

If you can look back like I am doing now and see that for most of your clients you were able to negotiate a fair settlement that kept the client from having the hassle of court proceedings then you were successful.

G Macs final thought

If at the end of the day you can be proud of your accomplishments, if you can say you did your best, then you are a success. Personal injury is an emotional type of law that requires you to remain calm and collected despite how you are really feeling. It requires you to give your clients one hundred percent of your attention, and for you to devote however much time it takes to make sure that the injured are compensated for their loss.

Personal Injuries, What Can I Claim For?

I still often get asked what sort of injuries can I claim compensation for and I generally give the same response, “If you were injured, are made ill or contract a disease and it was somebody else’s fault then you can almost certainly make a claim”.

The next question that usually follows is “How much can I get?” and my response for that one is always “It varies”.

So many factors contribute towards compensation payouts that I will never give an estimate to anyone, especially friends, without full understanding what the injury was, what affect it had on the person and what negligence took place to cause the injury.

It’s very easy to look at websites that claim ‘we can get you £10,000 for your broken little finger’ but the truth is I’ve never put a price on any claim without knowing all of the details.

When looking at the types of things people can claim for I usually fit them into one of these types of claims:

  • Traffic accident

Traffic claims are one of the most common and cover a fair few types of accident. Pedestrians and cyclists involved in collisions with motor vehicles, driver and passenger injuries following collisions and motorcyclists being knocked off of their bikes.

If you’re injured as a result of the driver of a vehicle colliding with you or your vehicle then you’ve got every right to make a claim for compensation against the drivers insurance.

  • Accident in the workplace

Workplace accidents do happen and if they happen due to negligence then you can make a claim. Even if your employer has safety systems in place you may still be able to claim if another employee or manager were negligent.

Under the health and safety at work act all employers must protect employees, visitors and customers on their premises by completing risk assessments and working out what can be done to reduce the risks.

  • Serious injury

The main reason people make claims for serious injuries is because there are usually serious financial losses involved for the injured party. Temporary or permanent loss of employment and temporary and ongoing medical costs that can’t be paid for any more.

Serious injuries can involve brain injury, spinal injury or very serious head injuries amongst others.

  • Environmental health injuries

Bacterial food poisoning, carbon monoxide poisoning and conditions caused by pesticides are some examples of environmental health injuries. Exposure to chemicals or gases can also be looked into if there was a short or long term affect on your health or disfigurement of your body.

  • Accident in a Public Place

I used to see loads of accident claims for accidents in public places. Potholes and poorly maintained paths are a big reason, poorly maintained stores or slippery store floors are also common reasons for making a claim.

If there were warning signs then the case is less likely so gathering evidence (photographic) to show there wasn’t any is useful for claim evidence. In the case of poorly maintained roads if the local authority or one of it’s contractors has highlighted the defect then get evidence of that to.

  • Medical negligence (Clinical negligence)

Examples of medical negligence can include surgery mistakes, poor or misdiagnosis and injuries at birth.

You often hear of wrong parts of the body being treated reported in the press as well as leaving medical instruments inside the body of a patient following open surgery. This is quite a specialist area in personal injury compensation so you do need to deal with a specialist.

  • Product defect or dangerous products

If you have an injury while using a product and you were using within the manufacturer’s recommendations then you may have a claim.

Chemicals leaking and burning you, products setting on fire or seating which collapses are all good examples of product defects.

Try to get photographic evidence of the defect and the damage it has caused. You’ll need to document as much as possible as large companies can have legal teams that don’t want to pay out to avoid an influx of complaints of a similar nature.

G Macs final thought

Once the accident has been defined I usually look at the severity of the injury ranging from fairly minor injuries through to fatalities to work out a compensation amount.

The main thing with all personal injury claims is that it has to be down to someone else’s negligence. If you have an accident and it was just that, an accident, then there is no one to claim against.

If somebody or an organisation has forgotten to do something or deliberately chosen not to do something then they are to blame for your injury and you can claim compensation.


G Mac.

Evidence Is King

I’ve been asked recently by a friend of Sals what makes a good claim for personal injury compensation and I thought that’d be obvious to most people but realized that it’s probably not as clear cut as I thought.

The key thing, when trying to claim compensation for a personal injury is evidence. It’s very easy to appoint a lawyer or solicitor, explain your situation and then put in a claim and then to get turned away because you’ve got no evidence of anything ever happening. That’s not to say it didn’t happen but any lawyer or company dealing with your claim will want evidence before paying anything out.

It’s always difficult to try and discipline yourself at the time of an accident as you’re likely to be in pain and worried about damage to you and your property but any evidence you can gather at the time of the incident helps. So what evidence is good evidence?

Photographs of the location of the accident

If you’re able to then get a photo of the scene of the accident with everything as it is after the accident. This will show the position of items after the accident for investigators to show where things ended up. If you’re not able to take a photo at the time then go back as soon as you can and photograph the scene so that you can explain what happened. In the case of a workplace accident make a note of anything you believe has changed since the accident.

Photographs need to be clear and in context. There’s no point showing a pothole in the road if that’s all you can see, take a second photo from distance and highlight the pothole. The same is true in road traffic accidents. If you take a photo of the damage to the back of your car then take a second one further back from the scene that shows your car and the other offending vehicle (try to include number plates in the photo too).

Photograph your injuries

This can be a key document to use as evidence. Try to get photographs at the time and then more photographs over time to show how the injury has changed as the days and weeks go on.

Written reports

If the police attended the scene then ask for a copy of their report. It’ll contain independent and unbiased information on what happened. If you attended the doctors or the hospital then your medical records can be used as evidence including any x-rays showing your injuries at the time you visited.

Witness reports

If anyone saw what happened at the time of your accident then ask them for their details (name and telephone number is probably enough at the time). If you’re thinking of making a claim for compensation then ask them to write down what they saw, don’t try to influence them but ask them to state what they saw and if possible plot their position on a diagram of the scene.

If it’s a road traffic accident then show where their car was in relation to yours or for a work place accident draw a plan and show where they were placed in relation to you.

Those are the pieces of evidence I would be looking at before taking on a case, but what else? If you’re going to keep a diary I’d recommend you record:

  • What happened leading up to the accident (time of day, road conditions and weather conditions in the case of road accidents or what task you were doing in the event of a workplace accident)
  • What happened after the accident. Who did you speak to and when, who helped you and when? If you’ve needed help in the time after an accident then how long for? Who helped? When did they help you?

Other things I’d want to see to make a full claim would include any letters you receive from the other party (these should always be kept), any dash-cam recordings, any admissions of guilt and any expenses. Out of pocket expenses should be recorded and receipts provided as these are a key part of any claim. Medical costs, traveling costs and other peoples costs as well.

G Macs final thought

I know it’s not the first thing you’ll think of when you have an accident but I’ll say it again, “evidence is king” and if you can gather as much as possible at the time the accident happens then you’ll make your claim easier for your lawyer and they will be able to obtain the best possible amount of compensation.

At the end of the day if someone has done something wrong to you then it’s right that you should be compensated.


G Mac.