In the United States, thousands of people suffer an injury in various accidents daily. These include construction accidents, workplace accidents, slip and fall accidents, and car accidents. One recent year saw nearly five million medically consulted injuries from automobile accidents alone. Given that millions more will suffer injuries from other accidents, you can see how likely you or someone you know will become injured at any given moment.
If you or someone you love has been injured in an accident due to the negligence or recklessness of another party, it is important to consult with a personal injury lawyer to explore your legal options for pursuing compensation for your losses.
Personal injuries are all too common
Many factors can lessen or increase one’s chances of experiencing an accident. However, the unfortunate reality is that many of us will have cause to file a personal injury claim at some point in our lives.
Despite the prevalence of accidents in the U.S., most people go about their daily lives without expecting to experience one. But when accidents happen, they can be traumatic, painful, and expensive. That is why it is essential to understand how personal injury claims work when you need to file one and how to start the process. This article will elucidate everything you need to know about personal injury claims.
What is a personal injury claim?
Suffering injuries in an accident usually lead to doctor visits, treatments, expensive medications, and missed work. This often translates to costly medical bills and lost income. But when another individual or company causes injuries, the accident victim shouldn’t bear the financial burden. If someone has injuries due to another party’s recklessness, error, or negligence, they can file a personal injury claim to recoup any losses from the accident.
Evidence, eyewitness testimony, and more will be necessary to prove negligence in a personal injury claim. However, if you work with an experienced personal injury attorney, your case will be in good hands from start to finish.
Types of economic compensation from personal injury claims
At a minimum, damages from personal injury claims aim to cover medical expenses incurred from injuries. However, litigants can often seek other kinds of economic damages in personal injury claims.
Below are some common examples of the direct economic damages you may recover in a personal injury lawsuit:
- Medical damages. Many types of injuries require multiple doctor’s visits and hospitalizations. Longer-term injuries may lead to stays in rehabilitation centers or in-home nursing care. You can recover the cost of prescription medications, transportation such as ambulance rides, surgeries, and other treatments as part of a claim for compensation. When accidents cause disability, sometimes home remodeling or vehicle modifications are necessary to accommodate victims of accidents, all of which tend to be outrageously expensive.
- Loss of income. When someone suffers an injury due to the negligence of another party, they often cannot immediately return to work through no fault of their own. Sometimes victims of accidents require lengthy recovery periods, and they are unable to earn for months or years on end. But even when injuries cause short-term work absence, victims should receive compensation for every dollar lost.
- Loss of earning capacity and job opportunities. When injuries cause permanent disability, victims of accidents may never perform their former job as effectively as before, or even at all. Injured parties can lose their livelihoods. They cannot provide for themselves and their families. Negligent parties should be held accountable for these devastating, lifelong consequences.
- Personal property damages. In many cases, the property can become damaged or destroyed in the same incident in which a person suffers an injury. When personal injury cases also involve property damage, claims for the damaged property may also be included.
Types of non-economic compensation from personal injury claims
Sometimes, litigants are entitled to damages beyond medical damages, lost income, and other directly incurred expenses. It can be challenging to place a price on the non-economic hardships that accident victims face. Still, these damages often account for the large amounts recovered in personal injury lawsuits.
Below is a list of some of the most common non-economic damages in personal injury cases.
- Physical pain and suffering. First and foremost, injuries hurt. Pain is not always easy to measure, but physical discomfort is almost always a consequence when a negligent party’s actions lead to dangerous accidents. In personal injury claims, these parties should be liable for any suffering.
- Emotional and psychological distress. Becoming injured in an accident can also be emotionally traumatic. Victims might suffer from PTSD, anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues following an accident. Injuries can also create a variety of personal inconveniences, further adding to victims’ emotional burdens.
- Loss of consortium. Another lesser-known form of compensation sometimes sought in personal injury claims is loss of consortium. This constitutes the loss of companionship, love, affection, comfort, and sexual intimacy. Many personal injuries disrupt relationships in these ways, and victims can seek compensation for these losses.
- Loss of enjoyment of life. Injured victims can sue for additional damages when injuries lead to a depreciation of the quality of life. Physical and emotionally traumatic incidents often lead to upsetting life changes, for instance, the inability to participate in previous activities and hobbies. These outcomes can deprive victims of their fulfillment and enjoyment of life.
- Disfigurement. When negligent accidents lead to injuries that result in substantial scarring or disfigurement, it can be uniquely distressing for victims. Some may wish to receive cosmetic procedures to correct these bodily changes, which you might include in a personal injury lawsuit.
- Punitive damages. In some instances, negligent parties may have acted egregiously or illicitly, leading to an accident. When such accidents result in physical or mental harm, litigants may seek additional damages for wrongful offenses committed against them.
Examples of personal injury claims
Though personal injuries are common in the United States, cases in this category can be unpredictable and span various accident scenarios. It’s also true that no two personal injury cases are the same. Many factors come into play when determining whether actionable grounds for a claim exist or whether a victim can reach a favorable settlement. Timelines, witness statements, and even negotiating power can completely shift the landscape of a personal injury claim.
Your litigation process and outcomes will be unique to the circumstances of your case. This is why if you’ve suffered an injury in an accident, you need help from a personal injury attorney as soon as possible.
However, most personal injury cases fall into one of a set number of categories, such as those below:
- Automobile accidents
- Slip and falls
- Workplace accidents
- Construction accidents
- Dog (or another animal) attacks
- Premises liabilities (i.e., unsafe environment on a property)
- Product liabilities (i.e., hazardous, faulty, or contaminated products)
- Medical malpractice
- Intentional acts (such as assault and battery)
Should you file a personal injury claim?
You cannot always file a personal injury claim after an accident. Firstly, it’s important to remember that the statute of limitations for personal injury claims is two years in most states, such as Texas. This means that if the accident that caused your injuries occurred more than two years ago, you will not be eligible for compensation. Also, accidents that don’t result in harm or damage and cases where no negligent party caused the accident will not create sufficient grounds for a lawsuit.
But if you have injuries that happened less than two years ago, caused you losses, and resulted from someone else’s actions, you should contact a personal injury lawyer to discuss filing a claim immediately.
What makes a strong personal injury case?
As victims of accidents consider filing personal injury claims, many are curious to know whether they have a solid foundation for their case. Establishing proof of negligence is the most important aspect of strong personal injury lawsuits. In law, negligence means:
“The failure to behave with the level of care that someone of ordinary prudence should have exercised under the same circumstances. The behavior usually consists of actions, but can also consist of omissions when there is some duty to act.”
Forms of recklessness, carelessness, erroneous behavior, and even intentional wrongful acts can be considered negligence. This is even more important in cases with a special legal duty of care.
Everyone is legally required to act with some level of care toward others. Still, some people and establishments must act more carefully than ordinary citizens. When parties breach these unique duties, people can often suffer severe injuries. As a result, it often lends to a stronger personal injury case.
Examples of cases where a specific duty of care comes into play include:
- Doctors administering proper medical treatment
- Business owners keeping their establishments safe and clean
- Property owners clearing their property of hazards
- Product manufacturers ensure their products are safe for use
- Drug manufacturers listing warnings and side effects on their products
- Teachers keeping students safe
- Daycare workers keeping children safe
Steps to take before filing
If you have suffered an injury in an accident due to the negligence of another person or company, you may be eligible for compensation. But before you begin filing your claim, you can take a few actions to start preparing your case.
Below are some steps you should take as soon as possible after suffering a personal injury.
- Seek medical attention. Receiving swift medical care after a dangerous accident is not just for your safety—it can help your case. It creates documentation of your medical records and establishes a point in time when you sustained your injuries and received initial treatment, which is when they are at their worst. This evidence is usually crucial for winning damages in a personal injury lawsuit.
- Compile documentation. As you move through the aftermath of your accident, you will likely come to possess documentation relating to the incident. This might include incident reports, police reports, medical records, and bills. If you do not receive these documents, ask relevant parties for copies.
- Gather photo and video evidence. Visual evidence, such as photos and videos, can add weight to your case. After your accident, take pictures or have someone else take photos of your injuries. Also, capturing videos or photos at the incident scene may be prudent, especially if a particular hazard led to your injuries.
- Gather witness statements. If others at the accident scene witnessed what happened, their testimony might be relevant to your case. Asking for statements and contact details for witnesses can be helpful if your attorney decides to use their account when building your lawsuit.
- Call a personal injury lawyer. Soon after experiencing an accident, you should contact a personal injury lawyer. The most compassionate and experienced personal injury lawyers will offer clear advice, guide clients through each process stage, build airtight cases, and provide elite representation. Reach out today to see how we can get you the immense amount for your claims.
An important tip: do NOT talk to insurance companies
At some stage in the litigation process, the insurance company representing your opponent will likely contact you. But don’t pick up the call—any knowledgeable attorney will advise you to avoid all communication with insurers. This is because they often covertly seek information that can reduce your compensation. You must give them nothing to work with, which you can most easily accomplish by letting your attorney handle all communications.
Contact a personal injury attorney today for your free and confidential case review
Experiencing a personal injury can be painful, stressful, and overwhelming; the prospect of a lawsuit can add to that stress. But a personal injury attorney will go out of their way to make every step of the process as smooth and effortless for their clients as possible. Lawyer-client confidentiality begins before you formally agree to use their services; you can trust a lawyer to keep your information private whether or not you decide to work with them. One hundred percent of communications are confidential, and initial case reviews are always completely free.
There is nothing to lose. Contact an experienced and compassionate personal injury attorney in San Antonio today to see if they can help you recover what you’ve lost and possibly much more. Waiting can only make the claim process more challenging for you.