Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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Laura Walker graduated college with a BS in Criminal Justice with a minor in Political Science. She married her husband and began working in the family insurance business in 2005. She became a licensed agent and wrote P&C business focusing on personal lines insurance. Laura serviced existing business and wrote new business. She now uses her insurance background to help educate drivers about...

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Reviewed by Laura Walker
Licensed Agent for 10 Years

UPDATED: Mar 18, 2019

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A car accident attorney is a lawyer who specializes in legal actions resulting from automobile mishaps.

These attorneys seek monetary damages for injuries and other losses suffered by the victims of vehicular accidents by taking action filing suit against the responsible parties and/or their auto insurance companies to satisfy the needs of their clients.

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What is the difference between a lawyer and an attorney?

A lawyer is an individual who is educated in the law and has studied law or earned a law degree.

An attorney is a lawyer who has obtained a license to practice law by passing one or more state examinations also called bar examinations.

What exactly is a bar association?

A bar is a group of individuals who practice law in any given area. Bar associations in each U.S. state administer licensing exams and establish ethical codes for their jurisdictions.

They also:

  • Monitor the activities of members
  • Enforce accepted standards of practice
  • Promote continuing education
  • Serve as a professional forum for their members

What kinds of attorneys are there?

There are many different kinds of lawyers and legal specialists among the more than 1.1 million licensed attorneys in the United States today. Some work for law firms while others work as in-house members of large corporations.

Some attorneys handle only the cases of plaintiffs, those who bring legal suits against others, while other attorneys handle only defense cases.

Trial attorneys argue the facts of cases in court, while appellate attorneys argue points of law. Most attorneys work in offices, drafting contracts and other legal documents, rarely seeing the inside of a courtroom.

More than half of all practicing attorneys in the U.S. work on their own or in small law firms.

Do attorneys have specialties?

Much like medical doctors, lawyers often specialize or concentrate on a specific area of the law and certain types of legal cases. Some of the more common areas of legal practice include:

  • Business law, which involves laws applying to the formation and operation of business organizations such as sole proprietorships, partnerships, and corporations
  • Criminal law, which encompasses the defense of individuals accused of criminal activities. These attorney specialists often gain the most publicity and recognition for their work, since they usually find themselves in open court, representing their clients in public trials.
  • Tax law, legal matters regarding personal and business income taxes as well as tax issues in reference to estates, trusts and other legally taxable entities
  • Family law, which includes the drafting of prenuptial agreements, divorce settlements, and child custody issues

Another very popular specialty includes attorneys whose practice involves the defense of those accused of driving while intoxicated or under the influence of alcohol or other drugs, DWI and DUI offenses while other attorneys may specialize in medical malpractice suits, personal or business bankruptcies or real estate transactions.

As with medical practitioners, the ranks of attorneys in general practice has dwindled over the years although there are still some attorneys who handle small, everyday matters such as wills and routine traffic offenses.

Why chose a specialist?

The American legal system is very complex and attorneys who take on only certain types of cases usually become experts in these smaller specialized areas of the law.

Attorney specialists make it their business to be aware of recent changes in the law and other legal developments within their specialties. Specialists, such as accident attorneys, are often able to give better service than others with backgrounds that are more general are.

Is there any regulation of these attorney “specialists?”

Yes, most state bar associations require attorneys to obtain certification through their associations before advertising themselves as “specialists” in any legal area.

How do I know an attorney is reputable?

As with any personal service, prospective clients should shop for an attorney by consulting family and friends, other professionals and by researching specific attorneys and their firms.

Can I rely on law firms that advertise?

Advertising legal services is relatively new and has only been allowed since a 1977 Supreme Court ruling, Bates versus the State Bar of Arizona.

Today, many firms that advertise are personal injury and accident specialists, “accident attorneys.” Like any big business, profits are based on the volume of cases that are handled each year.

The firm with the biggest advertising budget is not necessarily the best law firm, but larger, well-known firms have a very public image and reputation to maintain and are most likely to make good on any advertising claims that they make.

Are larger “chain” law firms effective?

Personal injury and accident firms that advertise widely can often afford to offer services with “no fee guarantees;” however, this doesn’t always mean you will win either but they often only take on cases with a high rate of success since they only get paid if they win.

With minimal risk involved, clients are more likely to pursue this type of case and because of the ability to cherry-pick cases, car accident attorneys generally win more cases than they lose.

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