Many people will go through life without hiring a lawyer. However, when you need one, you need to find a lawyer within the right field of practice. Here is a quick guide for when you ask what types of lawyers can help with your legal problems.
Differences in Legal Experience
Technically, lawyers do not specialize. All lawyers learn the same legal basics in law school and enter the legal profession without specialized qualifications or training. The one exception is patent lawyers. Patent attorneys must have an undergraduate degree in science or engineering and must pass a special examination, called the patent bar exam, to become a patent lawyer.
For every other lawyer, their field of practice is learned through on-the-job training and experience. Typically, a lawyer finds an area of interest and joins a firm that practices in that field. By working with mentors at the firm, the lawyer develops the skills and knowledge to practice in the lawyer’s chosen field.
When you need a lawyer for a particular legal problem, you can rest assured that the lawyer has probably seen the same legal issue before, even if your facts are unique. This means that the lawyer can approach the problem with a strategy that can help you achieve your goals.
What Types of Lawyers Can Help with Creditors?
Creditors can be relentless with late notices, collections calls, and even lawsuits. Lenders play an important role in the economy. But some of their tactics are abusive.
Worse yet, they are ineffective. Studies show that as many as two-thirds of bankruptcies are due to medical bills. This makes most debts in the U.S. unavoidable.
When creditors have filed lawsuits against you or are threatening to do so, you can find relief. Bankruptcy stops all collection efforts, including lawsuits, against you and your family. Instead of harassing you with threatening phone calls, bankruptcy forces creditors to the negotiating table. In most cases, the creditors will give you more time for repayment, cut the balance due, or both. This ensures they get paid something, and that you will be able to pay them while meeting your living expenses.
The disadvantage of bankruptcy is that it deals a temporary hit to your credit score. A chapter 13 bankruptcy stays on your credit report for seven years, while a chapter 7 bankruptcy stays on your credit report for 10 years.
When you visit a bankruptcy lawyer, you will need to help prepare schedules of your debts and assets. This allows the bankruptcy court to give every creditor fair notice of your bankruptcy and warn them to end any collection efforts.
As the bankruptcy proceeds, the bankruptcy lawyer represents you before the court and the creditors to work out a repayment plan that usually satisfies some, but not all, debts. The remaining debts are discharged, meaning that you do not need to repay them. At the end of the bankruptcy, you are nearly debt-free, except for some specific types of debt that cannot be discharged, such as child support and student debt.
What Types of Lawyers Can Help with Buying a Home?
Some states require you to hire a lawyer to buy a home. In these states, the law presumes that the complexities of the transaction require a lawyer to explain the transaction and represent your interests. More importantly, most of the people involved in a home sale from the home seller and real estate agent to the mortgage broker and escrow agent have a financial interest in completing it. This means that no one is looking out for your interests. But hiring a lawyer to review the transaction and tell you when something is not right can help you ensure you are getting a fair deal.
For example, a mortgage agreement can be quite complicated. While banks assume that everyone understands how mortgages work, the 2008 financial meltdown proved that mortgage brokers have major conflicts of interest when selling mortgages. They do not care whether you are getting the right mortgage for you. Instead, many only worry about whether you are getting the right mortgage for them.
When you hire a real estate attorney in a home sale, the lawyer can review all the agreements and the terms of the deal so that the lawyer can explain the deal’s terms to you and make sure they serve your interests.
What Types of Lawyers Can Help Recover Compensation After an Accident?
When most people hear about a personal injury lawyer, they think of car accidents. Personal injury lawyers are critical for helping people injured in accidents deal with insurance companies and get compensation from the driver who caused the accident.
But personal injury involves more than an auto accident lawyer. Some accidents and injuries that personal injury lawyers can help with include:
- Premises liability: If a person or business is negligent in maintaining its property in a safe condition for guests, a person injured on their property can sue for damages. Often, these accidents are called slip-and-falls, but they can involve burned-out lights, inadequate security, and tripping hazards.
- Product liability: When a defective product causes an injury, the injured person can sue. Product defects usually fall into three categories — design defects, manufacturing defects, and warning defects.
- Negligence: Weird things happen. But when they happen because of someone’s negligence, you may have a case for infringement. For example, if a tree trimming worker cuts down a tree without setting out cones to warn pedestrians of falling branches, the tree trimming business could be liable for any injuries caused when branches start to fall.
Personal injury lawyers help you evaluate your case, so you know what to expect from a settlement or damage award. They track your medical expenses and lost income, so they can document your losses. They negotiate with insurers to get compensation for you. If no settlement can be reached with the insurers, they can file a lawsuit to seek a damage award.
What Types of Lawyers Can Help with a Divorce?
When your marriage is broken, you need divorce lawyers. A divorce dissolves a marriage and resolves the legal issues between the spouses. The main issues in a divorce include:
- Child custody and visitation: A divorce determines a child’s living situation and how decisions will be made about the child’s care, health, education, religion, and welfare.
- Child support: Most states have guidelines that specify the amount of child support based on the child’s needs and the parents’ resources.
- Property division: In community property states, the property division is equal. In equitable distribution states, the court can award unequal amounts of property based on fairness and the financial circumstances of the spouses.
- Alimony: Alimony is not awarded in every divorce. But if fairness and economic considerations dictate, one person may be ordered to pay alimony to their ex-spouse.
A family law firm can also handle other issues. For example, a family lawyer can help you gain guardianship over an ill parent, adopt a child, or seek child support through a paternity suit.
What Types of Lawyers Can Help with an Animal Attack?
A dog bite injury lawyer is usually a personal injury lawyer who has experience with your state’s dog bite laws.
Dog bite laws fall into two broad categories:
- Strict liability: In a strict liability state, the measures taken by the dog owner and the dog’s demeanor and history are irrelevant. Instead, the dog owner is liable for all injuries caused by the dog, except for bites to trespassers. This allows people to have guard dogs without worrying about being sued when someone breaks into their property.
- Negligence: In negligence states, a dog owner cannot be held liable unless the dog owner was negligent in preventing dog bites. In these states, the dog owner must take reasonable measures under the circumstances. If a dog has no history of dog bites, the owner only needs to take minimal measures to control the dog. If the dog has a history of dog bites, the owner has a much higher level of responsibility to prevent dog bites.
A dog bite lawyer will usually file a claim against the homeowner’s insurance policy for the dog owner. If the dog owner does not have a homeowner’s policy or is a renter, the lawyer may file a lawsuit against the dog owner.
What Types of Lawyers Can Help Plan My Estate?
An estate lawyer helps people prepare trusts and wills to determine what happens upon death. An estate plan serves a few purposes:
- Makes sure property goes where you intend. For example, if you want your nephew to inherit your antiques, you can write it into your will.
- Reduce probate fees. Property in a trust can pass without going through probate. People will have a lawyer create a trust for some higher-value items in the estate to reduce the time and cost of probate.
- Minimize taxes. Gift taxes, estate taxes, and income taxes can burden an estate. By planning how the estate will pass, an estate lawyer can make sure the estate pays the least amount of tax.
What Types of Lawyers Can Help If You are Charged with a Crime?
Civil law exists to govern the relationships between people. Criminal law exists to govern relationships between people and the state. By making some activities crimes, the state hopes to maintain order in a society. If someone violates that order by committing crimes, the state is responsible for punishing them.
When someone is accused of committing a crime, they are arrested. An arrest serves to restrain a person’s freedom until an investigation is completed, and they are charged with a crime.
After an arrest, the person may be incarcerated until trial or until they can post bail. Bail is property that serves to ensure the defendant appears for trial.
At the trial, the prosecutors present evidence of the defendant’s guilt to a jury. The defendant’s criminal defense lawyer can present evidence that disputes guilt. If the jury is persuaded beyond a reasonable doubt of the defendant’s guilt, the jury can convict.
A judge sentences the defendant. The sentence may include incarceration and fines.
What Types of Lawyers Can Help After a Medical Error
Medical error is a leading cause of death and injury to medical patients. Although the statistics are disputed, medical errors might cause millions of injuries every year, some of them fatal.
When a medical error causes an injury, a medical malpractice lawyer can help recover compensation for the injured person. Some types of medical errors that may constitute malpractice include:
- Diagnosis errors: Diagnosis errors include misdiagnoses where the patient’s condition is incorrectly diagnosed. Diagnosis errors also include missed diagnoses where a sick or injured patient is told they are fine.
- Treatment errors: Treatment errors occur when a medical provider gives substandard treatment.
- Communication errors: Communication errors happen when the medical provider fails to give the patient a reasonably correct explanation of the condition or disease, the treatment options, the side effects of treatment, and the consequences of non-treatment.
What Types of Lawyers Can Help Injured Workers?
Exactly 49 states require employers to buy workers compensation insurance. This system guarantees that injured workers are compensated without regard to the reason for their injuries. Thus, whether a worker is injured due to the employer’s negligence, the employee’s mistake, or an act of God, the employee can receive workers comp.
But occasionally, a workers comp insurer will dispute the benefits. For example, a workers’ comp insurer might deny treatment for a knee injury on the ground that the injury did not occur at work. In these situations, the worker can hire a workers compensation lawyer to fight the insurer and get the worker’s benefits.
When you need a lawyer, you need to hire a lawyer with the right knowledge and experience to help resolve your legal issue. Whether you need a divorce lawyer or a personal injury lawyer, hiring the right lawyer can be key to getting your desired outcome.