A personal injury attorney is a legal professional who represents people harmed by negligence or irresponsible behavior by other parties. They are capable of taking on large companies, powerful people or expansive government agencies on behalf of a victim. While these professionals are well versed in many areas, they tend to focus on harmful medications, defective products, medical malpractice, work related accidents and automobile wrecks. Some practices also specialize in aviation accidents, asbestos exposure and maritime accidents. This range of experience means these lawyers are among the most versatile and knowledgeable legal experts in the field.
These professionals practice what is known as tort law, which concerns damage to a person’s body, property, rights or reputation. A personal injury attorney may be able to handle cases outside of tort law as well. To become a specialist in this area, the legal professional must first complete law school and pass the bar exam. Once they do, they must seek specialization through the Texas Board of Legal Specialization, or TBLS. This is an arduous process that can only be undertaken once the lawyer has five years of experience, at least three in the field they wish to specialize in. The professional must also acquire enough continuing education credits through the TBLS, provide a minimum number of qualified references and complete an examination that takes an entire day to administer. Should they pass this examination, the lawyer may become a certified personal injury attorney. Even after certification, though, the professional must maintain continuing education credits in the field to remain current.
Lawyers specialized in this field are able to file lawsuits, draft binding documents, offer advice to victims and pursue cases in a court of law. These specialists are also bound to several ethical codes. For one, the lawyer must be knowledgeable in any case they are advising and arguing for. The professional is also bound to handle all matters with their client with confidentiality.
While a personal injury lawyer is certified to handle a number of cases, most spend the majority of their time handling cases involving defective medication. This area of law is highly active because many drugs produce side effects that are not accounted for by the manufacturer. This may be because the manufacturer did not research the substance properly, or because the manufacturer does not update the drug information once research is produced. This is common even among major pharmaceutical companies. The FDA is tasked with overseeing the safety of medications in the U.S., but a patient may take dangerous prescription drugs for many years before the full risks are known. By then, it may be too late to correct any additional health problems.
For instance, Ortho-McNeil was fined millions of dollars when it suggested its drug Topamax could be used to treat psychiatric disorders. This was later found to be a false claim, even though the medication was responsible for causing birth defects in many women. Many victims chose a personal injury attorney to represent them in their cases against Ortho-McNeil as a result.
With help from these professionals, victims have a voice in the courtroom.