Learn How to Become a Personal Injury Paralegal
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 would grant a competitive edge and give a head start in the field. An associate degree is usually two years, and a certification is shorter but more intensive. It may require a bachelor's degree depending on the program, but some do not. 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.
Job Duties of a Personal Injury Paralegal
Personal injury paralegals work under the supervision of an attorney, but their range of responsibilities is expanding as attorneys delegate more and more work to them in an effort to be more cost-effective. Furthermore, as they gain more experience, the scope of a personal injury paralegal's duties can also grow, though they are legally forbidden from the actual practice of law, including giving legal advice. 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, and assisting in preparing settlement demands. They 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 duties could include interviewing their 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.
Litigation Paralegal Salaries and Job Outlook
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' 2012-13 Occupational Outlook Handbook, the median national annual salary for paralegals and legal assistants is $46,680. 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. The BLS projects job growth at 18 percent through 2020, which is about as fast as average for all occupations.
Research the paralegal programs and accreditation information below. These programs can help you get the necessary training to start a career as a personal injury paralegal. Request information from the programs that meet your needs.
Ohio Criminal Justice Schools
Online Criminal Justice Schools
- Associate of Arts in Paralegal Studies (Online)
- Associate's in Paralegal (Online)
- Bachelor's in Paralegal (Online)
- Associate in Applied Science in Paralegal Studies (Online)
- Bachelor of Science in Paralegal Studies (Online)
- Pathway to Paralegal Postbaccalaureate Certificate (Online)