Personal Injury Law

Authored by Wendy Witt, Esq.

Personal Injury (PI), also known as "accident law" or "injury law", is the area of law wherein injured persons (or their loved ones) seek compensation for injuries suffered.

We can definitely help you find a personal injury attorney and we can provide lots of helpful information on personal injury law. However, only a personal injury attorney, who has examined all the facts in your particular case, can provide legal advice and answer these important questions.

Do You Have a Personal Injury Case?

If you've been seriously injured at the hands of an individual or company, you likely have a personal injury case.

  • Here are some of the situations that commonly cause injury:
    • Car, truck, motorcycle, boat, cruise ship, ATV, RV, bicycle, pedestrian, and airplane accidents.
    • Amusement park and carnival accidents.
    • Dog bites.
    • Nursing home injuries.
    • Defective products.
    • Work place injuries.
    • Medical mistakes.
    • Slip and falls.
    • Drug mistakes and reactions.
    • Fires and explosions.
    • Food poisoning.
    • Mesothelioma.
  • Common PI case injuries include:
    • Death.
    • Burns, broken bones, and fractures.
    • Brain injuries and birth defects.
    • Emotional distress and loss.
    • Paralysis and loss of limb.
    • Scars, wounds, cuts, and road rash injuries.
    • Facial injuries, head injuries, neck injuries, back injuries, and spinal cord injuries.
    • Coma.
    • Bed bug injuries.
    • Dangerous drug injuries and loss of bodily function injuries.

Of course, you must consult with an injury lawyer to know if you actually have a case. Don't hesitate to find out whether you have a PI case - or not.

  • There are deadlines for filing cases. These deadlines are called, "statutes of limitation", and if your case is not filed by the deadline, it will be forever blocked.
  • Evidence is always better preserved as close to the time of the injury as possible. As time passes, witness memories fade and physical evidence disappears.
  • The other side will have a lawyer, who, along with the insurance company, will pounce on you immediately.

Proof of Negligence

Most personal injury cases seek to prove that the defendant was negligent, meaning that the individual or business, which caused the injury, either did something that caused the injury or failed to do something and the failure to act caused the injury.

There are four steps in proving negligence in a personal injury case. The injured person (plaintiff) must establish that:

  1. The defendant has a duty to act,
  2. The defendant didn't act or didn't act reasonably,
  3. The defendant's actions caused the injuries, and
  4. There are recoverable damages.

Each of these four elements must be proven by a "preponderance of the evidence," meaning that the jury must believe that the defendant had a duty to act, didn't act reasonably, caused the injuries, and the injured person suffered damages, more likely than not.

Not All Personal Injury Cases are Negligence Cases

Most PI cases are, indeed, negligence cases; however, not all cases are. Some PI cases are based upon the legal theory of strict liability cases because there was inherent danger present.

In strict liability cases, there is no need to prove negligence (i.e. fault) and the 3 steps (or prongs) of negligence don't apply.

  • For example, if the American Blasting Company is imploding the old football stadium and Janel is injured by the blast, strict liability would apply. Blasting is an inherently dangerous activity.
  • For example, if Jared's wolves escape their cages and eat Michael, strict liability would apply. Owning wolves is inherently dangerous.

The injured person would need to prove:

  1. The tort occurred.
    • Janel was injured by the blast.
    • Michael was eaten by the wolves.
  2. The defendant (individual or company) was responsible.
    • American Blasting Company did the blasting.
    • Jared owned the wolves that escaped.

Workers Compensation Explained

Workers compensation is personal injury law but it has its own area of legal practice. While in certain cases, it's appropriate to file a personal injury lawsuit, usually workers injured within the scope of employment are covered under the workers compensation system.

This system was established to get workers healed and back on the job as fast as possible.

When all works well, litigation is avoided and the injured worker doesn't have to wait years for compensation. In addition, the legal fall out from an injury doesn't ruin the workers relationship with his employer.

Personal Injury Awards

There are approximately 50,000 to 70,000 lawsuits filed each day; and, personal injury attorneys file many of those lawsuits.

The courts award financial compensation to those injured by other individuals or businesses because the goal is to put the injured person in the place he or she would have been but for the injury. Unfortunately, courts don't have a magic wand or time machine to turn back the hands of the clock and prevent injury. The closest the courts can get is to award financial compensation for losses sustained as a result of the injury caused by someone else.

When negligence is established by a preponderance of the evidence, financial compensation is awarded.

Injured persons can recover for past and future:

  • Lost wages and/or benefits
  • Medical expenses
  • Pain and suffering
  • Punitive damages for egregious behavior

If a loved one is injured, the family can recover for the above plus:

  • Loss of consortium
  • Funeral and burial expenses

Representing Yourself Will Not Save You Money

Trying to save money on a lawyer is short sighted. In most cases, the injured person gets more money even after paying a lawyer, then if he had handled the case on his own.

Remember You Pay Nothing Unless You Win Your Case

  • There are no fees and no expenses, unless they get money for you.
  • Personal injury attorneys charge a percentage (plus expenses) of the compensation negotiated or awarded.

If you decide to hire a personal injury attorney, your attorney will deal with the insurance companies, so you don't have to. You, as a layperson, are likely to be tricked and taken advantage of by insurance company; your attorney is not.

When you use our site, www.attorneys.org, you are entitled to a free case evaluation. This means you can find out whether you have a case, how much your case is worth, and how to proceed.

Insurance Settlement Practices

If you are in a car accident, you cannot trust the insurance company - even your own.

The goal of every insurance company is to make you go away for the least amount of money possible. If you'll go away for $20,000, they're sure not going to tell you that if you had a lawyer they'd offer you $200,000.

Flo is funny; Mayhem is destructively entertaining; and humiliating quarterback, Aaron Rogers, and his touchdown dance is irresponsibly fun. However, none of those characters will answer your phone call or send you a check when something goes wrong.

Common Insurance Company Tricks

Insurance companies repeatedly and consistently try to trick injured people, including their own customers, with these tricks. If you represent yourself, the insurance company is likely to:

  • Cycle your case through representative after representative and each one will pretend he or she doesn't know your case.
  • Present unfairly low settlement offers.
  • Offer you a lower settlement if you are working without an attorney than if you are working with an attorney.
  • Use your words against you.
  • Use computer software that intentionally generates a misleading financial analysis of your current and future losses.
  • Lie.
  • Refuse to pay claims that they legitimately owe.

Insurance companies have been caught doing all of these things, as well as the "Triple D" (DENY, DEFEND, DELAY)

Legal Tips if You Injured in an Accident

  • Get to a safe place and seek medical treatment. Nothing else matters more than your safety and the safety of others.
  • Call 911 and report the accident, if you can safely do so. You and others may be in shock and may be more injured than you realize. In addition, police document evidence, which is way more effective than “he said - she said”.
  • If you can safely do so, take photographs of the scene with your cell phone. Include road signage, damage to cars, injuries, any road blockage, and weather conditions.
  • Even map out the scene with pen and paper if you have the tools available.
  • Call a personal injury attorney so an investigator can be sent to the scene immediately to preserve evidence and so the law firm can give you specific advice about your individual situation.
  • It's prudent to keep the phone numbers for your doctor, insurance company and personal injury attorney in your cell phone in case of emergency.

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