What is a Personal Injury Case?
If another party has caused you to get hurt, you might be entitled to compensation for your injuries. New York personal injury laws hold parties accountable for their negligence and wrongdoing when it causes injuries to another party. A personal injury case can arise in numerous situations.
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What is Personal Injury Law?
Personal injury law is one of the most common areas of law that cause people to seek advice from an attorney. Personal injury laws cover everything from car accidents and construction accidents to medical malpractice, wrongful death, and dog bites, nursing home abuse, slip and fall accidents.
Personal injury law also includes premises liability and product liability laws. Premises liability laws hold property owners liable when a person is injured on their property. Product liability laws hold parties liable for damages and injuries caused by defective products.
The list of incidents and accidents that can result in a personal injury case is lengthy. Most personal injury cases involve negligence. You must prove the elements of negligence to win your personal injury case.
What are the Elements of Negligence in a Personal Injury Case?
The legal elements of a general negligence claim are:
- The party who caused your injury owed you a duty of care
- The party breached that duty of care
- The breach was the direct and proximate cause of your injury
- You sustained damages because of the breach
An example of negligence could be found in a pedestrian accident case. Drivers have a duty of care to operate motor vehicles in a manner that does not put others at risk. A breach of that duty of care might be driving while texting or driving under the influence.
A pedestrian is in a crosswalk and has the right of way. A driver is texting while driving and hits the pedestrian. The pedestrian is injured and sustains damages because of the accident.
The driver was negligent because he breached his duty of care by texting while driving. The breach was the direct cause of the pedestrian’s injuries and damages.
The above description is a very simple example of a personal injury case. In most personal injury cases, proving negligence can be difficult. Certain types of personal injury cases might involve other legal elements.
For instance, a medical malpractice case requires you to establish the acceptable standard of care that should have been used in your case. You need a medical expert to review the case and determine the acceptable standard of care.
The expert must then testify how the doctor deviated from the standard of care and how the deviation caused your injury. The doctor’s defense team has its own medical excerpts to refute your medical experts.
Because personal injury laws are complicated and cases can involve complex issues, it is best to seek the advice of a personal injury lawyer who handles cases similar to your case.
If a defective drug injured you, search for an attorney who handles cases involving defective drugs. On the other hand, if your injury occurred in the subway, look for an attorney who has substantial experience handling subway accident claims.
Why Do People File Personal Injury Claims?
The judicial system cannot undo what has happened to you. The only thing that it can do is require the person who caused your injury to compensate you for damages. The purpose of filing a personal injury claim is to hold the party who caused your injury legally liable for your damages.
Damages include economic and noneconomic losses.
Economic Damages in a Personal Injury Case
Economic damages are the financial losses caused by the accident and your injuries. In most cases, accident victims are entitled to reimbursement for all financial losses.
Common financial losses included in a personal injury claim are:
- The cost of your medical expenses, treatment, and care
- The cost of in-home health care and personal care
- Lost wages and income, including benefits and salaries
- Damage to property
If your injuries result in disability or permanent impairment, you could also be entitled to future damages. Future damages might include ongoing medical care or personal care. If you are unable to work, you could receive compensation for future income loss or a decrease in earning potential.
Financial damages for a permanent disability could also include modifications to your home or vehicle to accommodate your injury. It could also include special medical equipment or prosthetics.
Noneconomic Damages in a Personal Injury Case
Compensation for noneconomic damages is for the pain and suffering caused by the accident and your injuries. Pain and suffering damages include:
- Physical suffering and pain
- Mental trauma
- Emotional distress
- Psychological injuries, including PTSD, depression, and anxiety
- Scarring and disfigurement
- Disabilities and impairments
- Loss of quality of life or enjoyment of life
Pain and suffering damages are the most difficult damages to value in a personal injury case. There is not a standard formula for calculating non-economic damages. Most insurance companies and personal injury lawyers use a per diem or multiplier to value pain and suffering damages. The per diem or multiplier is based on the severity of the injuries sustained by the victim.
The value equals the financial damages multiplied by the multiplier, usually a figure between 1.5 and give. If a per diem is used, the per diem is multiplied by the number of days the victim was in recovery. The recovery is measured from the date of injury through the date the victim reaches maximum medical improvement.
Punitive Damages in a Personal Injury Case
Punitive damages are rare in personal injury cases. They are intended to “punish” a party for gross negligence or willful disregard for others’ safety. The court only awards punitive damages in certain cases.
An example of a personal injury case that might qualify for punitive damages is a DUI accident case. The person knew that driving under the influence was dangerous, but chose to do so without regard for the safety of others on the road.
Should I Hire a Personal Injury Lawyer?
Not all personal injury cases require the assistance of a lawyer. However, it is always beneficial to meet with a personal injury attorney to learn about your legal rights and discuss your case.
Insurance adjusters protect the best interests of the insurance company. They do not tell you if you accept a personal injury settlement offer that is lower than the value of your claim. They also do not tell you if you are making a mistake that could hurt your chance of receiving compensation for an injury claim.
A personal injury lawyer looks out for your best interests. Before deciding how to handle your personal injury lawsuit, schedule a free consultation and get advice from a trusted legal advocate for accident victims.