What's the first thing I should do if I am injured?
The main thing to do is to write down details, including names, addresses, phone numbers and, in case of automobile accidents, insurance names and policy numbers from others involved, witnesses and police officers, including their report numbers. Keep records of where and how the accident happened, including the weather and time of day. Take pictures of the injuries, property damage, and several views of the scene where the accident happened. It is important to review the section of “What to Do In Case of Injury or Accident” to see additional points. A crucial task will be to find a competent Personal Injury attorney to represent you.
Do I have a winnable Personal Injury case?
Frankly, the best person to answer this question is an experienced Personal Injury attorney. If you have suffered injuries due to another person's actions or failure to act (such as not cleaning up a spill or not restraining an animal) you may have a Personal Injury case. If someone has failed to follow the rules of the road and has caused a crash, you may have a Personal Injury case. You must be able to prove your case, and a competent and experienced Personal Injury Attorney will be able to help you determine if your case is worth pursuing. .
How long do I have to file a lawsuit?
The statutes of limitations vary by state and by type of claim. A statute of limitations determines the maximum amount of time that can pass before you properly commenced a Personal Injury lawsuit. It is important therefore that you contact a competent Personal Injury attorney who has experience with your type of claim as soon as possible after an injury or accident to make sure that all of the evidence is secured and to protect your legal rights. If your case is not properly commenced within the statute of limitations period, it will be too late and you will not be able to recover any compensation.
What should I bring when I meet my lawyer?
The more information you are able to give your Personal Injury attorney the better. Even if you do not have everything (such as medical bills), providing as much as possible will assist the Personal Injury lawyer to determine the validity of your claim and determine what additional information is needed. Anything you currently have that is relevant to your case, including police reports, photographs, newspaper articles regarding the incident, eyewitness information, details about the conditions surrounding the accident or injury, and any medical reports should be presented at your first meeting. Also bring your automobile insurance policy if you are involved in a motor vehicle crash. If the other party's insurance company has contacted you, bring along their contact information and any information they have provided to assist your Personal Injury lawyer.
What compensation may I receive from my Personal Injury lawsuit
If the lawsuit is a viable claim, your Personal Injury attorney will evaluate all aspects of the claim to determine the nature and extent of the damages caused by a negligent party. Damages in a Personal Injury lawsuit include many variables related to the injury such as medical expenses, lost income, permanent physical disability or disfigurement, emotional damages (such as stress, embarrassment, depression and other conditions), damage to property, and damages for the pain and suffering caused by the defendant. The intent of Personal Injury law is to place you back in the position you would have been in but for the injury and to compensate you for damages that are likely to be incurred into the future.
What is negligence?
Negligence is the failure of a person to act in a manner in which a reasonable prudent person would have acted under similar circumstances or acting in a manner in which a reasonably prudent person would not have acted under similar circumstances. How an “ordinary reasonable person” should have acted in each situation is often a critical issue in many Personal Injury cases. An experienced Personal Injury attorney will be able to assess the strengths and weaknesses of each fact situation to determine whether it is likely that another party's negligence was the cause of your injury. If negligence is in dispute and the claim cannot be resolved, your Personal Injury lawyer will present evidence at trial to convince the jury that the defendant violated the “ordinary reasonable person” standards and cause your injury.
How will the person who caused my injury be punished?
Defendants in civil actions, such as Personal Injury actions, are not fined nor do they receive jail terms as punishment in civil court. Those types of punishment are determined in a criminal court when a crime has been committed. Punitive damages may be awarded by juries if the defendant's conduct was intentional or the defendant acted in willful disregard to your rights. Punitive damages are awarded to discourage the defendant and others similarly situated defendants from engaging in similar behavior.
What if death occurs before the Personal Injury lawsuit is completed?
If the person filing the Personal Injury lawsuit dies before the completion of the case, portions of the case may continue. A Personal Injury attorney will assist in making the appropriate changes to complete the suit; including assessing the amount of damages that the heirs are entitled to recover if the negligence of the defendant was a cause of death.
Is there any other possibility for Personal Injury liability if negligence can not be proven?
Yes, there are cases where persons or companies may be “strictly liable” even if they have not acted negligently. For instance, some states have a dog owner is a liability statute which requires the dog owner to fully compensate the injured party if a dog injures or causes injury to a person, even if the dog owner was not negligent. Similarly, if a person is injured by a defective and unreasonably dangerous product, the manufacturer and/or distributors of the product are required to pay the damages caused by the defective and unreasonably dangerous product, even if the manufacturer and/or the distributors were not negligent.