Aspiring paralegals can choose from a number of specialties, including personal injury law.
Since more and more attorneys are now hiring paralegals as a cost-saving measure, these integral team members are expanding their responsibilities on the job.
As a personal injury paralegal you'll work with a diverse set of clients so being a good communicator and interviewer is a key component to success in this field.
Personal Injury Paralegal Job Duties
Personal injury is a specialty of litigation that focuses on a person's injury or accident caused by another party, and it shares many of the same duties as a litigation paralegal.
A personal injury paralegal may specialize in plaintiff personal injury or defendant personal injury. Some duties of a plaintiff personal injury paralegal can include:
- Reviewing relevant state laws on personal injury
- Interviewing clients about their injuries
- Gathering medical reports
- Getting insurance information from the defendant
- Assisting in preparing settlement demands.
You'll need to be familiar with litigation, have good personal skills, as well as have a handle on some basic medical terminology.
Defense personal injury paralegals assist in defending the person accused of negligence or causing the accident, and often work for insurance companies. Their responsibilities include:
- Interviewing clients
- Reviewing reports by witnesses or police
- Making appointments for medical examinations
- Determining the extent of damage covered by the insurance policy, along with other basic litigation duties.
Personal Injury Paralegal Education
Earning a certification in paralegal studies or an associate degree is the best way to gain entry into this competitive profession. Neither is required in almost all states, but the education can often give you a leg up against other job candidates.
An associate degree is usually two years, and a certification is shorter but more intensive. Some paralegal certificate programs require a bachelor's degree prior to enrollment.
Additional courses can be taken in both the area of litigation as well as personal injury, and would prepare you for this specialized area of law.
Salary and Job Growth
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' 2014-15 Occupational Outlook Handbook, the median national annual salary for paralegals and legal assistants is $46,990.
Job prospects for paralegals are expected to be good for the next few years. The BLS projects employment growth at 17 percent through 2022, compared to 11 percent for other legal occupations.
Actual salaries may vary greatly based on specialization within the field, location, years of experience and a variety of other factors. National long-term projections of employment growth may not reflect local and/or short-term economic or job conditions, and do not guarantee actual job growth.