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You can make a claim against another party or parties if they are at fault for your injuries. If your own negligence was a partial cause of your injuries, you will be completely barred from any recovery under the doctrine of contributory negligence. You are entitled to compensation for your injuries if it is found that a defendant was negligent, that such negligence was the cause of your injury, and that the injuries resulted in compensable damages. Any personal injury case depends on liability, damages, and whether or not you can collect from the negligent party or parties.
Personal injury law attempts to cover all areas and types of injuries suffered by individuals. Some of the most common areas are automobile accidents, premise liability, medical malpractice, and product liability, among others. Whether or not you are entitled to compensation may depend on the type of accident that caused the injury.
In the District of Columbia, you have the option of purchasing “nofault” insurance, referred to as Personal Injury Protection or PIP benefits. You may opt for medical benefits, lost wage benefits, and/or funeral benefits. If you are covered by PIP benefits, after an accident, you have 60 days to elect to take the benefits. If you do take PIP, you are barred from pursuing a claim against an atfault driver unless your medical bills exceed the amount of your coverage; you are incapacitated for 180 consecutive days; you have substantial permanent scarring or disfigurement; you have a permanent injury that significantly effects your ability to perform your usual occupation or daily activities; or there is a death. You health insurance is always primary to collecting nofault benefits.
In the event that you do not have nofault coverage or did not elect to take the benefits, you may present a liability claim to a negligent driver’s insurance company for compensation. A claim can be made for many types of losses, which you can show, arose from a collision, which was not your fault. Liability claims are usually the subject of negotiation between your lawyer and the liability insurer for the negligent party. Lawsuits are generally filed when negotiations fail. If you file a lawsuit against a negligent driver, your attorney will need to prove that the other party was negligent and that the other party’s negligence caused injuries that resulted in compensable damages.
Uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage is coverage that has been purchased to cover you (and people claiming through your policy) if you are injured through the fault of an uninsured motorist or underinsured motorist. The benefits for uninsured motorist are the same as under the liability bodily injury coverage, except the claim is made against your own insurance company. If you are not at fault in the accident, the insurance company cannot penalize you in any fashion for making a claim against your uninsured motorist coverage.
If you were injured at someone else’s home or at a commercial establishment, the person responsible for the premises may be found liable. This can cover a variety of situations including slip and falls, dog bites, assaults, among others. The owner or operator of the property must have notice of the defect or circumstances that caused your injury prior to the injury having occurred. The notice can either be actual notice or implied notice, meaning the owner knew or should have known of the dangerous condition given all of the surrounding facts and circumstances. The person liable for your damages is the party in control of the property. That party is responsible for the care, maintenance and inspection of the property. For example, an owner may not be the responsible party if he or she has leased the property to another party who actually has control over the premises. The standard of care owed to a trespasser is usually less than that owed to a person who has permission to be on the property.
Injury can result from defective products, as well. When a company designs and manufactures a product, they have a responsibility to ensure that anyone exercising reasonable care within the expected parameters of usage expected for the product will not be injured. In a product injury case, you do not have to prove the manufacturer or vendor was negligent. You only have to prove that the product was defective due to faulty design, error in manufacturing, or that the manufacturer did not provide sufficient warning of potential risks or failed to provide adequate instructions. This concept is called strict product liability. A lawsuit can be brought against anyone participating in the chain of manufacture for that product, from the manufacturer, to the designer to the retail store. There are limits to product liability law such as when the product is too old or if the consumer was careless in using the product.
When a health care provider causes injury due to his or her failure to meet the accepted standards of care for that particular field of expertise, you may have a claim for medical malpractice. A claim can be brought against physicians, dentists, nurses, therapists, hospitals, clinics, and pharmacists among others. Some examples of medical malpractice include incorrect diagnosis, failure to treat, improper treatment, delay in treatment, prescription errors, surgical errors, rendition of services without informed consent, etc. Medical malpractice claims are some of the most difficult to prevail in and are quite costly due to the need for qualified expert review and testimony.
Injuries cost money, including time away from work, medical bills and other complications. You should have an attorney help you with your claim. Not sure if you have a good injury case? Speak to a local personal injury attorney about the merits of your case. This one step can help you protect your rights and take the proper next steps.