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What is a Personal Injury?

At its core, the term “personal injury” is a legal term describing an injury suffered to someone’s emotional health, mental health, or physical body.

Personal injuries do not cover damages to property. Most people associate the term with personal injury lawsuits filed against the allegedly negligent or at-fault person or party.

How Do Attorneys Decide on Monetary Damages?

Personal injury laws vary with each state’s laws, but the amount of monetary damages requested by the injured party usually takes the following factors into account:

  • Total or expected lifetime total of medical bills and care
  • Pain and suffering – both physical and emotional
  • Diminished quality of life in those instances where this claim applies

What Does the Term ‘Reasonable Person’ Mean?

The legal system judges the behavior of others by comparing their actions to those of the hypothetical reasonable person. A hypothetical truck driver, for example, who failed to strap down his haul of heavy machinery would be deemed negligent if reasonable truck drivers usually strap similar loads down for safety reasons.

Are Medical Bills Included in a Bodily Injury Claim?

You may include the cost of your medical bills in a personal injury lawsuit or settlement. They are part of the economic damages suffered resulting from the injury. Other financial losses may include lost wages from time off work. If the injury suffered has lifelong implications, then future expenses also may factor in.

Non-Economic Damages

Personal injury claims also may state a request for non-economic money damages. Non-economic money damages would include things like:

  • Pain
  • Suffering
  • Emotional distress

Is There a Minimum Settlement Amount?

The simple answer is no. Personal injury settlements depend on many factors, including the specific injuries suffered by the plaintiff, the cost of their medical bills, total lost wages, and whether you are willing to settle with the insurance company.

If you are presented with this situation, its best to ask your lawyer for guidance. They may be able to guide you when it comes to accepting the insurance company’s offer or taking your chances in court.

Do All Personal Injury Claims Go to Trial?

Not all personal injury claims go to trial. In fact, most do not go to trial.

Many insurance companies are eager to settle outside of court. Not only does settling out of court cost less than funding a long and drawn out court case, settling out of court also may be preferred since a resolution can often be reached much faster than a trial.

What Does ‘Duty’ Mean?

Regarding negligence, duty is the legal obligation that the law imposes on us to protect and respect the safety of others around us.

This brings us back to the hypothetical reasonable person example.

For example, when we drive a car, we owe a duty to pedestrians and other drivers on the road to drive safely. But when it comes to our cars, we are not the only responsible party. Automobile manufacturers have a duty to ensure that the car we drive meets all safety guidelines.

If a person fails to stop at a red light, severely injuring a pedestrian in the crosswalk, the negligent party depends on a few factors:

  • Did the driver fail to stop because they were texting while driving?
  • Did the driver try to stop only to realize the breaks failed on their vehicle?

Perhaps the driver is at fault or it could be the manufacturer bears some or part of the responsibility. This is a simplified example, but you get the point. Determining the extent of one’s responsibility to act safely is often the complicated part of a lawsuit.

Do Personal Injury Cases Have Statutes of Limitation?

Every state has statutes of limitations. The length of time you have to file a personal injury lawsuit after the accident causing the injury will depend on where you live.

Regardless of the defendant’s perceived or alleged guilt, the plaintiff loses their right to file a personal injury lawsuit after the statute of limitations has expired. Failing to file a lawsuit against a negligent party means the guilty party sometimes faces no consequences.

You may want to consider contacting a experienced personal injury attorney in your area if you aren’t sure about what the statute of limitations is in your state. The specific time frame for filing a lawsuit varies not only by the state, but also may vary depending on the type of personal injury claim.

What Happens During a Deposition?

If you file a personal injury lawsuit, you will likely have to take part in a deposition. The deposition is a process in which the defendant’s attorney asks you questions about the accident and records your answers.

People must swear under oath that what they say is truthful, just as they would when testifying in court.

In some instances, depositions may help your pre-trial case preparation or aid in reaching settlement terms.

Do I Need a Personal Injury Attorney?

Have you suffered an injury due to someone else’s negligence?

If so, you may want to pursue compensation for your injuries and related expenses.

While you can try and handle a personal injury claim on your own, it is a good idea to seek legal help in the following situations if:

  • Your injuries are serious
  • The insurance company is not cooperating with you
  • The insurance company is saying that you are at fault
  • The insurance company claims you do not need treatments or therapies recommended by your treating medical doctors and staff
  • The person at fault for your injuries hires an attorney

If anything, hiring an experienced personal injury lawyer can help you by removing the weight of the situation from your shoulders. When you have an attorney, it’s their job to handle the stress while you focus on your recovery.

Speak with a Personal Injury Attorney

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.

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