What is a Personal Injury Case?
A personal injury is caused when a person suffers physical or emotional damage from either an intentional tort or an unintentional tort. These can range from vehicle accidents, slip and fall incidents, dog bites, and workplace accidents, to medical malpractice. In legal terms, “tort” simply means a wrongful act in which injury is inflicted on another. The party that committed the tort is called the “tortfeasor”.
Unintentional torts are the result of the negligence-the failure of a party to act in a way that could have prevented the damage caused. Examples of negligence are when a physician is careless when performing a medical procedure that results in complications or car accidents caused by drunk drivers. Intentional torts, as the name suggests, are when torts are committed on purpose. They consist of acts such as assault, trespassing, false imprisonment, and fraud.
If negligence is established in a personal injury case, then the defendant must pay for the damages they inflicted. Included in this calculation could be medical bills, property damage, or the wages that the person affected could not earn due to their injury. Punitive damages are also available. These are monetary charges used to punish the defendant and to deter them from committing the act again. However, a common argument made is “assumption of risk” which is when a person knows the risks involved in an activity but chooses to proceed, regardless of their knowledge.
Personal injury cases can often be confusing and there are a lot of steps needed to be taken to ensure that the proper evidence is collected to prove or disprove the case. Whether you are the plaintiff or the defendant, it is important to get an attorney to ensure the proper handling of your case.
5 Misconceptions About Personal Injury Cases
Now that you’ve learned a few basic legal terms used in Personal Injury law in a previous post, Daniella Levi, Esq. will help dispel five common misconceptions of personal injury cases.
1) Compensation is guaranteed for losses resulting from a personal injury.
Compensation is not guaranteed. Unfortunately, not everyone that suffers an injury is entitled to financial compensation. Whether an injured person is entitled to compensation will be based on whether there is a liable party (liability), the extent of the injuries (damages), and available insurance coverage. The legal fee is contingency-based and we only get paid when our client is compensated.
2) A personal injury lawsuit can be filed at any time.
A personal injury lawsuit cannot be filed at any time. There are strict statutes of limitations deadlines that may prevent a meritorious claim from being filed if it is not timely-that is why it’s critically important to consult with an attorney as soon as possible after an injury has occurred. Being knowledgeable and informed is the first step in achieving the desired results
3) Personal injury lawsuits are often decided in court.
Sometimes, however, frequently, cases are resolved through a settlement, either in the claims stage or during the pendency of the litigation. A settlement can be negotiated at any time before a jury verdict, each case is different and the particular facts and circumstances of the case will contribute to and influence the timing of a resolution (liability, damages, parties, insurance carriers, adjusters, lawyers, etc).
4) Personal Injury lawsuits are a long and drawn-out process.
They could be long. Again, each case has its own particular fact pattern, like a person’s DNA, each is different and the time it takes for resolution varies. Also, once the case is in the court system, often the courts will determine the timing of certain parts of the case.
5) If a person is partly at fault for causing his/her own injury, they are is not entitled to any money.
Sometimes, even if a person is partly responsible for their own injury, they may be entitled to compensation from the defendant who is also responsible. There can be more than one proximate cause for an accident. Once percentages are assigned by a jury (part to the plaintiff, the person bringing the lawsuit, and part to the defendant, the person defending the suit), the compensation awarded will be accordingly divided. (for example, if a jury decides that a plaintiff is 40% responsible for his own injury and the defendant is 60% responsible and further that the damages are 100,000.00, then the plaintiff will only collect $60,000.00)
If you want to file a personal injury suit or want to consult with a well-experienced attorney, call us for a FREE consultation at (718)-380-1010.