4 Key Differences Between a Personal Injury and Criminal Defense Lawyer

Whether you are involved in an accident or charged with a crime, it is important to know what type of lawyer you should consult. Not all law enforcement officers follow the same procedures, and the nature of your case will affect the process.

To get the facts straight, we reviewed The Hawk Firm’s website, personal injury and criminal defense attorneys, and compiled our findings into this article.

There are four main differences between personal injury attorneys and criminal defense attorneys: the incidents they deny, their role in the courtroom, their opponents, and their goals.

Personal injury vs. criminal defense: Incidents

Not all lawyers are the same. Each type studies the law and prepares for different sets of scenarios.

As their job title suggests, personal injury attorneys handle incidents involving people who are injured. Whether the culprit is a negligent driver, a code-breaking workplace, or an aggressive dog, if someone else is to blame and you’ve suffered, you can sue. You need a dedicated personal injury attorney to help you establish your case and receive the highest compensation.

Criminal defense attorneys, on the other hand, take on clients who are accused of criminal offenses. In cases of low-level felonies such as shoplifting, misdemeanor, or DUI without injury or death, an attorney can reduce the defendant’s sentence. A criminal defense attorney can potentially turn a felony charge into a misdemeanor, saving the client large costs and jail time.

Personal injury vs. criminal defense: attorney roles

In a personal injury lawsuit, the attorney’s role is to determine how the client has suffered. Accidents cause more than just high medical bills. The time someone spends in the hospital or being unable to work takes a toll on their finances and impacts all areas of their lives. Therefore, a personal injury specialist must step in for the physical, mental, financial and other losses suffered by the client.

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After proving that a client has suffered, a personal injury attorney must determine the negligence responsible for the suffering.

In a criminal defense case, the attorney discusses applicable laws and better defines the client’s situation. A law enforcement officer will often detail the client’s nature, daily life and circumstances in order to reduce the seriousness of the alleged crime. Because many attorneys represent first-time offenders, they can often obtain clemency from the court.

Assault vs. Criminal Defense: Opponents

Both inside and outside the courtroom, personal injury and criminal defense attorneys debate various opponents.

A personal injury attorney discusses compensation issues against parties such as the client’s workplace or insurance company. In order to obtain maximum damages, the legal representative must prove that the party acted negligently and that they have a right to claim in accordance with applicable standards.

Rather than going to court, personal injury cases most often end up with settlements between an insurance company, an employer, and a customer.

A criminal defense attorney’s opponents are the law and the jury. Unlike personal injury cases, defendants in criminal cases usually go to court where they must attempt to obtain a reduced sentence or an innocent plea.

Personal injury vs. criminal defense: goals

The final difference between attorney types is the desired results.

The goal of a personal injury attorney is to ensure that the client deserves appropriate compensation for their suffering. You cannot overlook psychological, monetary and secondary ailments. Most personal injury cases reach a settlement and do not require a court hearing. Therefore, the lawyer’s goal is to argue for a favorable settlement.

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A criminal defense attorney’s goal is either to mitigate his client’s charges or to prove his innocence. The majority of people charged with misdemeanors are guilty, but many charged with felonies are not. For example, a criminal defense attorney attempts to reduce the client’s criminal status to a misdemeanor in order to save them from imprisonment, large fines, and other consequences.


Lawyers have different goals, processes, and skills depending on their area of ‚Äč‚Äčexpertise. Now that you know the differences between these two types of lawyers, you can contact the right lawyer for your case.