Although many individuals and groups suffer injuries, not all injuries are considered personal injuries. Personal injury is a specific legal concept that refers to those injuries caused by another individual or party. This means that when the at-fault party is found responsible, the injured party receives damages.
Damages are a type of monetary compensation that is paid by the liable party. This payment helps to defray the many costs and expenses associated with the personal injury. In some cases, injured individuals may receive substantial compensation for a personal injury.
Every personal injury case is different. The factors involved in the case relate to the factors involved in the accident. Some individuals are injured significantly in car accidents or medical malpractice. Other individuals are hurt in slip and fall accidents or by dog bites and animal attacks.
Understanding Personal Injury Accidents
When a personal injury affects an individual, the repercussions can be devastating. These events may lead to severe and lasting medical issues. Medical bills may accumulate. Medication costs can climb. Overall, a personal injury accident can be very costly.
Of course, not all personal injury cases are severe. Some accidents result in minor harm or injury. Nonetheless, many victims of injury may still have a case. In order to prove that case, the injured party must demonstrate clear and comprehensive proof of liability.
Criteria for Personal Injury
A personal injury refers only to those injuries sustained as a result of an at-fault party’s actions. When filing a personal injury claim, an injured individual must prove that fault “beyond a reasonable doubt.”
Thus burden of proof means that there is a 51% chance that the claimant’s claim is accurate and true. In other words, it is more likely than not that the claimant was injured as he or she said. It is more likely than not that the personal injury occurred as stated.
Overall, there are four main types of personal injury claims that result from an accident. These personal injury cases include:
This refers to the failure of the at-fault party to take reasonable care. Negligence is comprised of four elements: duty, breach, causation, and damages. These four attributes are the basis for a personal injury claim.
Duty refers to the duty of a party to take care. For instance, a physician has a duty to protect the patient. A store has a duty to put out signs when the floor is wet. A pet owner has a duty to keep a vicious dog on a leash or behind a fence.
A breach of that duty occurs when the at-fault party fails to carry out that duty. If a driver fails to drive slowly on a slick road, he or she has breached the duty of safety. Moreover, if a surgeon fails to take reasonable precautions during surgery, duty is breached.
Thirdly, there is causation. In other words, the personal injury is directly caused by the breached duty. You get injured because the at-fault party failed to carry out the duty.
Finally, there are damages. Personal injury damages encompass two types. There are compensatory damages and punitive damages.
Compensatory damages assign a monetary value to the claimant’s injuries. This can be a value assigned to physical, emotional and/or financial injuries.
Within compensatory damages, there are also two types. Special damages and general damages. Special damages refer to money awarded for costs and expenses. These expenses can be: medical costs, costs of disability living, lost wages, property repairs and replacements, and even funeral costs.
Meanwhile, general damages refer to money awarded for non-monetary losses.
General damages compensate personal injury victims for pain and suffering. This can include emotional distress and loss of life quality.
General damages can also award victims for disturbances in relationships. These include loss of affection, love and comfort between spouses and family members.
These two types of compensatory damages differ from punitive damages.
Punitive damages do not compensate the personal injury victim. Rather, these damages seek to punish the at-fault party. Such damages are awarded in cases where the at-fault party is blatantly responsible, especially in severe cases of personal injury.
Both compensatory damages and punitive damages can be awarded for most personal injury cases. However, victims of negligence are less likely to receive punitive damages than victims in more severe personal injury cases.
This type of personal injury case is more severe than mere negligence. Gross negligence denotes a complete and total disregard for duty. In other words, the at-fault party makes little to no effort whatsoever.
Because of this, gross negligence can typically elicit greater compensation for the injured party.
Reckless conduct is different than negligence and gross negligence in several ways. A reckless individual or party engages in conduct that is more likely to cause harm than is negligent behavior.
Recklessness can be proven if it is shown that:
(1) The at-fault individual intended to commit the act that resulted in injury
(2) The at-fault party knew, or should have known, that the act could result in injury
(3) The at-fault party knew that other people could be potentially injured
This is the most severe basis for personal injury cases. To prove this type of misconduct, it must be shown that the at-fault party knew what was happening. The at-fault party knew the act was wrong and knew the act would almost certainly result in injury. Nonetheless, the at-fault party engaged in this act intentionally.
Intentional misconduct cases can typically garner punitive damages. That is, a personal injury victim may be able to recover damages aimed at punishing the at-fault party. Typically, intentional misconduct results in the worst types of personal injuries.
Overall, there are many types of personal injury cases. Moreover, there are multiple bases for personal injury cases. Negligence, gross negligence, recklessness and intentional misconduct are all different. They all require different forms of evidence to prove they have occurred.
It doesn’t matter what type of personal injury case a victim endures. It can be a slip and fall, a dog bite, a car accident, or something entirely different. In all cases, a versatile personal injury lawyer can help.
The best personal injury attorneys understand the details of a claim. These consummate professionals can assist significantly.
But first, a claimant must understand how to find a qualified attorney.
Finding A Qualified Attorney
In general, “personal injury”refers to a wide array of injuries and injury cases. Every case has its own unique details as well. These details relate to the setting, situation and circumstances of the accident. No two personal injury cases are the same.
That’s why a good accident attorney is so critical.
In finding and hiring the best lawyer for your case, you need to be strategic. Some injury lawyers only specialize in certain types of cases.
Moreover, different attorneys handle different sub-categories. For instance, one personal injury lawyer may focus entirely on motorcycle accidents. Another personal injury lawyer may work extensively on truck accidents or public transportation mishaps.
When researching the best personal injury lawyer for your case, be sure to research the specifics. Search online for lawyers “near me.” Locate accident attorneys who focus on the exact type of your personal injury. You can typically visit the firm website to learn more.
It is also important to consider an attorney who is realistic. You don’t want a personal injury lawyer who promises too much or too little. Be sure to ask the same questions to multiple lawyers. The best attorney for your case will be honest. If your case is not strong, the lawyer should tell you.
You may also want an attorney who can manage all aspects of your personal injury case. Some personal injury lawyers don’t. Many use their secretaries or paralegals. Some accident attorneys only handle your case at the appeal stage.
Personal Injury Attorney Fees And Costs
When hiring an accident attorney, always be cognizant of expenses.
Most personal injury attorneys work on a contingency fee agreement. In other words, you don’t pay anything until you are awarded compensation for your injury. Most accident attorneys will charge roughly 30% of your monetary recovery.
Claimants for personal injury lawsuits may have to pay multiple fees. These including filing fees, administrative fees, documentation fees, and many others.
If you hire a personal accident attorney, you will save money with up-front payment. In cases where you pay after your attorney is paid, you may actually end up receiving less compensation.
Be sure to evaluate your agreement with your accident attorney. Some attorneys will absorb the fees if your case is lost.
Also be sure to understand your attorney’s litigation experience. The best personal injury attorneys have been to trial and understand the role of an advocate. Your attorney should be skilled and experienced.
Whether you settle or go to court, you should have an attorney who can win.