Personal injury law is designed to help and protect those injured or harmed because of the negligence of another person or entity. While personal injury claims are some of the most common types of litigation in the United States, few know much about the process. Did you know about these personal injury facts?
What does personal injury include?
A personal injury can include a variety of injuries to a person’s body, emotions, or reputation. Personal injury claims are not always easy to pursue. Claims of injury must be proven in order to obtain and recover damage, and litigation for a personal injury claim can be complicated and stressful.
One little-known personal injury fact is that there are different types of damages and restitution that Plaintiffs may receive in a personal injury claim. These can be generally separated into three distinct categories: compensatory damages, punitive damages, and attorney’s fees.
What do I need to know about personal injury?
Pursuing a personal injury claim is a complex and lengthy process. Its main purpose is to find a fair resolution for a person who has been wrongfully injured because of the negligence of another person.
One of the critical factors of a personal injury claim is the claim of negligence. According to the Legal Information Institute, negligence is the “failure to behave with the level of care that someone of ordinary prudence would have exercised under the same circumstances.”
A person is negligent when they fail to act with care, causing damage to another person as a result. Ordinarily, negligence must be proven during a trial before claims of damages can be considered. And a claim of negligence includes some key elements that make a strong case:
Duty of care: This refers to the responsibility one person has to prevent causing damage to another. Some duties of care are legal–doctors have a legal duty of care toward patients. Other duties of care are presumed–drivers are presumed to drive safely under all conditions. Plaintiffs in a personal injury claim must prove that the defendant had a duty of care.
Breach of duty: The injured person will need to attest how the other party failed to meet that duty, how their conduct “breached” the duty of care either through an action or through a failure to act.
Causality: A plaintiff must demonstrate that a defendant’s breach of duty caused the injury or injuries. This requires establishing a causal connection between the injured and the other party’s action or inaction. It also suggests a proximate cause, which determines if the incident was foreseeable.
Damages: A plaintiff must show that they have suffered damages from the injury such as medical expenses, emotional trauma, or other types of “pain and suffering” losses.
Here are five important personal injury facts.
Personal injury covers a variety of claims
They can include:
- Motor vehicle accidents: Some of the most common car accident injuries include soft tissue injuries, burns, fractures, broken bones, internal injuries, concussions, traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord, and nervous system injuries, and limb loss and amputation.
- Medical malpractice: Medical malpractice is a physician’s act or failure to act during the treatment of a patient that deviates from accepted medical care and treatment standards and causes an injury to the patient.
- Wrongful death: A wrongful death suit is a type of personal injury claim, filed by family members on behalf of their deceased loved one. It seeks financial compensation for damages incurred from the death.
- Product liability: Product liability is the legal responsibility of any or all parties along a product’s chain of manufacture for damage caused by that product. This includes the manufacturer, an assembling manufacturer, the wholesaler, and the retail store owner. Product liability suits have been filed over cars, food products, planes, and many other items.
- Premises liability: This is a personal injury caused by an unsafe or defective condition in someone’s property, such as spills on the floor, unsafe construction zones, defective building or sidewalk, inadequate building security, or toxic fumes and chemicals.
What is an early settlement?
An early settlement is sometimes offered by the other party, their attorney, or through their insurance company. When the injured and their family have a sense of urgency, they might consider accepting an offer to have immediate money to pay for bills or other costs. However, it is not recommended that early settlement offers be accepted. Sometimes the extent of an injury won’t be fully known for some time; other health consequences requiring additional procedures and costs might not be taken into consideration in an initial offer. And early settlement offers are often less than what might be awarded during mediation, arbitration, or litigation.
How do you come up with a settlement amount?
When settlement amounts are considered, they should not only include the direct costs of hospital bills and related medical expenses. Other costs should also be considered. Some of these include:
- Medical expenses: These include all costs incurred immediately after the injury, like surgery, medicine, physician care, medical equipment, visiting nurses.
- Missed wages: Lost income due to the injury.
- Ongoing care: Some injuries require long-term care and ongoing treatment.
- Funeral costs: These would be part of a settlement amount when, as the result of the injury, an individual dies.
- Disability: If a person’s injury is permanent, claims to address ongoing disability should be considered.
- Pain and suffering: These include emotional pain, trauma, anguish according to the Legal Information Institute, “pain and suffering refer to the physical discomfort and emotional distress that are compensable as noneconomic damages. It refers to the pain, discomfort, anguish, inconvenience, and emotional trauma that accompanies an injury.”
Personal injury can be complex and determining the value of a case can be difficult. You should always consult with your attorney.
Time limits in filing a claim
The process for a personal injury claim can initially be overwhelming; filing a lawsuit might not be a top priority if someone is dealing with injuries. However, there is a time limit during which a personal injury claim can be filed. Generally, a plaintiff has two years in Illinois after the date of the accident in which to file a claim. This is called the “statute of limitations.” The statute of limitations is any law that bars claims after a certain period of time pass after an injury. The period of time varies according to the jurisdiction and the type of claim.
- A person must bring suit for personal injury of a motor vehicle accident within two years after the day of the accident.
- If an injury is not known until a later discovery–for example, if a surgeon leaves a sponge in a patient after closing an incision and this is discovered in a subsequent surgery–the statute of limitations begins for that plaintiff two years from the date of discovery of the harm.
- The statute of limitations for a wrongful death presents two years from the date of the death.
- The statute of limitations for a product liability personal injury case is two years from the date that the product was purchased.
There are a few specific cases where exceptions to the statute of limitations might apply:
- The statute of limitations for personal injury to a minor begins when they turn 18.
- When an accident causes the victim a disability that impedes them from making a claim or a lawsuit, the statute of limitations begins when the person is recovered.
- If the defendant leaves the state, the statute of limitations may not start until after they return.
The statute of limitations is important because a personal injury can be highly costly, with medical bills, hospitalization in some cases, and emotional trauma that cannot be monetized. Making timely claims for a personal injury is one of the best ways to receive compensation for damages.
Insurance provides the damage funds
In a personal injury claim, most of the time there is insurance that will cover the damages. There are different types of insurance according to the different types of jurisdictions.
Motor vehicle accidents: Car insurance is required by most states and provides some financial protection in case of an accident. This includes help if a car is damaged, liability protection for the driver found at fault, and usually, for injuries sustained in car accidents. Payouts may come from the driver at fault or your own car insurance company. However, if medical expenses are greater than what car insurance covers, health insurance may step in or seek repayment from a defendant’s car insurance company.
Medical malpractice: Medical malpractice insurance provides coverage to medical professionals for liability arising from services that result in a patient’s injury or death. However, Illinois state law does not require medical professionals to have malpractice insurance in Illinois. Hospitals also have insurance to protect them if they are found liable in a claim.
Product liability: This kind of insurance helps to protect businesses from claims made on products sold by the company that causes an injury or damage to someone.
Premises liability: Premises liability coverage covers claims for accidents involving guests or customers that take place on a business or personal property.
When a person does not have insurance, they must pay the amounts themselves.
Working with insurance companies can be complicated. This is why it is recommended that you contact an attorney to ensure that you will get the best out of the situation. Insurance companies often push for a quick settlement by making a low offer, but this is often not a good settlement for a plaintiff.
Representation matters – how do you pick?
Picking an attorney or a law firm to represent you in a personal injury claim is complex. Some lawyers make exorbitant promises in their marketing or commercials. What matters is the experience and specialty of your attorney. Pick an attorney with personal injury experience who has won cases at trial or negotiated good settlements for their clients. Look at their personal injury specialties to be certain that your case is in the right hands.
Choose an attorney within your state or city to ensure that your attorney knows applicable statutes and prior court decisions that may be crucial to your case. Because personal injury can be stressful and consume a lot of your life, a great attorney will help ease the process and take the heavyweight off your shoulders.
If you are in the state of Illinois, you can contact us at Trent Law Firm, P.C., to discuss your personal injury accident and how our experienced personal injury lawyers may be able to help. Call (866) 599-8601 for a confidential consultation.
We offer contingency fees for clients, enabling an accident victim to have legal representation without paying a fee directly to a lawyer. Instead, attorneys are paid after an agreement or successful outcome is reached. Contingency fees are a standard percentage of the total reward received in the case.
While we can never erase the accident or the pain and suffering it has caused, our goal is to ensure you are compensated for the injuries you received because of someone’s negligence.
Our office is unmatched in its determination to help you get the compensation you deserve for your serious injury.