Personal Injury law concerns physical and emotional injuries that someone has suffered as a result of the wrongful conduct or negligence of another person or entity. Wrongful conduct can be criminal wrongdoing such as assault and battery, or the acts of a company that markets and promotes a product that it knows can cause serious side effects without warning anyone of the risks. Negligence is careless or reckless conduct that led to an injury.
Most personal injury claims involve negligence, or instances where the responsible party failed to act reasonably or to a certain standard of care with respect to the injured party, such as a pedestrian, bicyclist, another motorist, a consumer, or patient.
Negligence concerns different aspects or elements that must be proved by the injured claimant, or plaintiff in a lawsuit, by the civil standard of proof by a preponderance of the evidence or that it is more likely than not that the particular element has been proven.
The defendant owed a duty of care to the injured party (e.g., to exercise ordinary care)
The defendant’s conduct breached the duty of care (by careless or negligent conduct)
The breach was the legal cause of the injured party’s injuries
The injured party suffered damages
Types of Personal Injury Claims
Slip and fall
You have 3-years from the date of the accident or incident to settle your claim or to file it in the appropriate court. Failure to file it before this time will generally bar you from recovering any compensation from the responsible party. The 3-year statute can be extended in some cases.
Damages in a Personal Injury Case
Past and future medical expenses
Past and future income loss
Pain and suffering
Spousal claims for loss of consortium
The highest damage awards are usually for pain and suffering, which can also include the degree to which the injured party’s enjoyment of life has been diminished.
Medical expenses must be reasonable and related to the care of the claimant and are proved through medical records and bills, and the testimony of treating medical providers. Loss of income is shown through wage records. If there is loss of earning capacity, a forensic economist may be retained to prove the value of the loss. Emotional stress can be demonstrated by medical and therapist records where a claimant may be exhibiting post-traumatic stress disorder, a drug addiction, or other mental pathology related to the trauma of the accident.
Funeral and burial costs
Medical expenses if incurred before the decedent succumbed
Loss of net income the decedent would have earned over his/her career
Loss of the decedent’s love, assistance, guidance, counsel, comfort and companionship
Punitive damages of no less than $5,000
For punitive damages, the defendant’s conduct must have been reckless, malicious, willful and wanton.
Any award for personal injury depends on the nature and extent of the claimant’s injuries, the damages sustained, and the effect on the claimant’s life. Your personal injury lawyer’s experience and knowledge is instrumental in proving all the elements of a personal injury case including damages so that you have the best opportunity for obtaining the most compensation available.