Important Notification: There are many factors taken into consideration in all Personal Injury matters that cannot be adequately represented in these brief FAQs. Accordingly, this site and any information contained herein is intended for general educational purposes only and should not be relied upon or construed as legal advice relevant or applicable to your situation. Seek competent legal counsel for advice on any legal matter.
1. What is a personal injury? Personal injury is an injury to one's mind, body, or emotions. In other words, it is an injury to the person, as opposed to an injury to property. When property is harmed in conjunction with the personal injury, compensating for that property becomes part of that personal injury lawsuit.
2. How does personal injury law compensate victims? Personal injury law is an area of law that seeks to compensate the victims of personal injury and punish the offenders through monetary awards, known as compensatory and punitive damages.
Compensatory damages are meant to compensate the victim for the injuries he/she suffered in an accident. This includes compensation not only for not only the personal injury, but also for the pain, discomfort, suffering, disability, disfigurement, and anxiety already experienced, and reasonably probable to be experienced in the future as a result of the personal injury. In addition, the victim should recover reasonable expenses of medical care, treatment, and services, and any lost earnings due to the personal injury.
To calculate compensatory damages, a monetary value is assigned to victim's physical harm and property loss as a result of the personal injury. This monetary value can be actual or estimated. Actual losses include medical bills, repair bills for an automobile or other property that was harmed as a direct result of the personal injury, lost wages or earned sick or vacation time, etc. The most typical estimated value is pain and suffering.
Indirect victims of the personal injury may also have a legal claim to compensatory damages. Spouses, for example, can often file suit to recoup monies lost due to loss of affection or loss of the spouse's contribution to the household. Punitive damages Punitive damages differ from compensatory damages in that punitive damages are awarded to punish the perpetrator of the personal injury, not compensate the victim for the personal injury. The goal of punitive damages is to convince the defendant to change his/her behavior by punishing the defendant economically. Punitive damages are not awarded in every personal injury case.
3. Who can file a personal injury lawsuit?
Usually the victim of the personal injury can file the lawsuit. If the victim is deceased, or found to be mentally incompetent, the lawsuit can sometimes be brought by a family member or legal guardian. Others indirectly harmed by the personal injury may also have a cause of action.
4. Do I have a personal injury case?
First, you must have suffered an injury to your person or property. Common injuries in personal injury cases include head injury, brain injury, spinal cord injury, burn injury, broken bones, fractures, knee injury, neck injury, back injury, shoulder injury, muscle and ligament injury, herniated or bulging discs, reflex sympathetic dystrophy (RSD) also known as complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS), paralysis, paraplegia, quadriplegia, and death if the accident results in a fatality. Second, you must consider whether your injury was someone else's fault.
Personal injury claims may be made in instances of car accidents, wrongful deaths, slip and falls, construction accidents, brain injuries, dog bites, medical mistakes, and any other circumstance caused by another person that results in injury to your body, mind or emotions. 5. What are damages?
Damages are the amount of injury suffered by the plaintiff, expressed in monetary terms. Damages include medical bills (past and future), loss of wages (past and future), pain and suffering, loss of consortium, etc.
6. What is liability?
Liability may result from being at fault in an accident and expresses whether a party is responsible for damages. Multiple parties can be deemed to be liable for your injuries, including yourself. If you are partially responsible for your own injury, then you may have the amount you would have otherwise received from your claims reduced by the percentage of responsibly that was yours. For example, if you were found to be ten-percent (10%) responsible for your own injury, and the defendant was found to be ninety-percent (90%) responsible, the defendant may be required to pay only ninety-percent (90%) of the total damages.
7. Can I file a personal injury lawsuit at any time?
No. The time to file a personal injury lawsuit is governed by what is called the statute of limitations. If your personal injury case is filed after the statute of limitations has expired, it is very likely that the lawsuit will be dismissed, and you will have no legal recourse for monetary compensation. Accordingly, it is imperative that you contact your attorney immediately when you believe you may have a personal injury case.
8. What should I bring with me for my attorney to review?
You should bring any documents that might be relevant to your case. For example, you should obtain any police reports, copies of all medical records and bills from doctors and hospitals, insurance documents of all parties, photographs of the accident scene, your property damage, and your injury.
9. How much do you charge to review a case?
An initial consultation to discuss the facts of a potential case is free. In those cases where it appears the claim is meritorious, a contingency fee will be paid at the conclusion of the case. In some instances, we will advance the costs necessary to investigate and prosecute the claim. In the event costs are advanced, any costs advanced will be reimbursed to your attorney at the time the contingency fee is paid.
10. What is a contingency fee?
A contingency fee is a legal fee that is dependent upon the successful outcome of a claim. Most attorneys utilize a contingency fee agreement because injured clients often cannot afford to pay an attorney for service rendered on an hourly basis. The attorney will agree to take a certain percentage of the settlement from which the attorney's fees are paid. If there is no recovery, we receive no legal fees.
11. How much will I recover from a settlement or judgment?
There is no formula or standardized method for evaluating the likely settlement value or jury verdict potential in a given case. Case value is case specific. It depends upon factors including liability, nature and extent of injuries, nature and extent of permanent disability, economic losses (including lost wages, and medical bills), disfigurement, pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, loss of consortium, and property damage. Economic factors like age, current level of employment, and education will also be taken into account when determining how much compensation may be awarded.