Personal Injury Law
If you are considering a personal injury lawsuit, there are some basic legal terms and procedures that will come up during the process. Although an attorney will likely handle much of the work, keeping informed of what you will face can help your case. State law will vary, however, the following general principals of personal injury law can help you understand what you face when you take legal action. As with any lawsuit, an experienced attorney can help you collect the money you deserve.
First, some basic questions:
- What caused the injury?
- Was it an auto accident?
- Was it a swimming or boating accident?
- A bus, train or plane accident?
- A slip and fall?
- A defective or dangerous product?
- Did it involved malpractice by a doctor, dentist, lawyer, accountant or other professional?
- Somebody defamed you, with a slander or libel?
- Was the injury caused by someone's intentional act? That may give rise to punitive damages.
- Where did the accident occur?
If the accident occurred at work or in the course of your employment, worker's compensation laws may govern.
Statute of Limitations
There are also requirements for giving timely notice of your claim and/or statutes of limitation that require you to file suit within a certain time limit. These limits vary greatly state by state and by type of matter. If you don't give timely notice you forever lose your ability to obtain recovery.
However, it is important to note that it is sometimes possible to extend or toll these time limits, including a party's lack of knowledge of the facts and circumstances, lack of manifestation of the injury, false statements or fraud, or mental incapacity or infancy.
WARNING: If a state or county or municipality may be liable (such as a transportation agency) there are often very short timw limited to give notice of a claim.
Who Can Recover
You, as well as your spouse, may be entitled to recover for an injury to just one of you. The family or estate of a deceased may be entitled to recover for the person's wrongful death.
The Extent of the Injury
The amount of recovery you can obtain often depends on the nature of the injury, its duration (permanent or short term), your out of pocket costs (such as medical expenses, your loss of salary or wages, damage to property), the residual impacts (such as an inability to engage in sports, etc.), the pain and suffering you incurred, and the skill and experience of your lawyer.
One injury may sometimes give rise to several different rights or theories of recovery, so even if you can not recover on Grounds A you still may be able to recover on Grounds B.
Who Was Responsible for the Injury?
The person you think may be responsible may be just one of many responsible. For example, if you were injured by a car that went out of control, not only the driver of the car may be responsible, but the car's owner, the driver's employer, the manufacturer of the car and the brakes that failed and the repair shop that didn't adjust them properly.
Even if you think you were fully or partially responsible, you may still be able to recover -- in full or in part. People often blame themselves or feel guilty when the injury was not the result of anything they did wrong.