An Introduction to Personal Injury Claims
If you or a loved one has suffered a loss, an injury or the deterioration of an existing condition due to somebody else´s lack of care, personal injury claims give you the opportunity to recover compensation in the form of damages.
However, in many cases personal injury claims are not straightforward. The state in which you live, the nature of your injury and whether you contributed to its cause are all factors which can all influence your entitlement to damages and how much compensation for an injury you may receive.
This article intends to provide examples of when it may be possible to claim compensation for an injury, some of the obstacles you may encounter in pursuit of damages, and what is included in compensation settlements. It is not intended to be a substitute for speaking directly with an injury lawyer and nothing on this page should be taken as legal advice or constitute a client-lawyer relationship.
Claiming Compensation for a Personal Injury
For many people, claiming compensation for a personal injury is not something they choose to do lightly. As the saying goes, accidents will happen; but when injuries are sustained which prevent wage earners from supporting their families or which result in the victim´s quality of life deteriorating, it is only fair that the victims should receive some form of compensation from the person or persons responsible for causing their injury.
It is not only the primary victims of an accident that need to be considered when claiming compensation for a personal injury. The parents of a child who needs full-time care due to a medical practitioner´s negligence, a wife who has to care for a husband crippled in a workplace accident, or a child whose mother has been injured in an automobile accident should all be entitled to benefit from laws which been specifically put in place to provide support for the secondary victims of accidents.
The Most Frequent Compensation Claims for Personal Injury
Compensation claims for personal injury can be initiated after many different accident scenarios. The highest volume of personal injury claims result from road traffic accidents – most frequently car drivers and their passengers who sustain whiplash injuries following a rear-end shunt; but other road users can also sustain an injury in a road traffic accident – such as a cyclist who falls due to potholes in the road, or a motorcyclist whose bike loses its grip on a diesel spill.
Among the other most frequent compensation claims for personal injury that an injury lawyer will be asked to assist with are:
Workers Comp Claims – Workers Comp is intended to replace lost income and pay medical expenses for an injury sustained at work. Workers comp personal injury claims often arise when injured workers do not get the full range of benefits to which they are entitled, or when disputes arise over the validity of a claim. It may also be the case that an employer has no worker´s insurance, in which case you should speak with an injury lawyer at the first practical opportunity.
Public Liability Claims – Public liability claims for damages occur when accidents happen in a place of public access which results in an injury that could have been prevented with greater care. The term “places of public access” usually refers to parks, sidewalks and publicly-owned properties (i.e. those owned by the state), but public liability claims for personal injury can also come about if you are injured in a shopping mall, railway station, hotel or school.
Product Liability Claims – You may be entitled to make product liability claims for compensation if something you have purchased is faulty due to its manufacture or design. Compensation claims for personal injury in this category would include faulty medical aids or medications which do not warn against known side effects. You do not necessarily have to have suffered a physical injury in order to make product liability claims – for example, if the value of your home has suffered due to a construction defect.
Medical Negligence Claims – Compensation claims for a personal injury due to the negligence of a medical practitioner are one of the most complex categories of personal injury claims, for not only has it to be established that you suffered a loss, an injury or the avoidable deterioration of an existing condition due to the negligence of your medical practitioner, it also has to be shown that “at the time and in the circumstances” an alternative course of action would have prevented the injury from occurring.
Qualifying Personal Injury Claims
In order to eligible to make personal injury claims, a victim must have suffered a quantifiable loss, injury or deterioration in an existing condition due to the negligence of a party that owed them a duty of care. The principle of negligence is most commonly reproduced as:
- There was a duty owed
- There was a breach in that duty
- The breach was the cause of the plaintiff´s injury
- The breach proximately caused the plaintiff´s injury
- The plaintiff suffered actual quantifiable injury
The driver of an automobile owes a duty of care to other road users when he or she is driving their vehicle, an employer owes a duty of care to his or her employees to provide them with a safe environment in which to work, and store owners owe a duty of care to the people who shop in their premises. However, establishing how their breach their obligations – and that the breaches lead to a loss or injury – can often be difficult.
In all personal injury claims it is also vital that the negligent party has an insurance policy against which to make a claim. Few individuals or companies have the funds to settle compensation claims for personal injury, and it may be the case that insurance carriers enforce their reservation of rights or exclusions within an insurance policy to avoid the payment of personal injury compensation. This is the main reason you should discuss the nature of your accident – and your entitlement to compensation for a personal injury – with an injury lawyer as soon as you have received medical attention for your injury.
How Comparative Negligence Affects Compensation for a Personal Injury
The term “comparative negligence” most often describes the contribution that you have made to either the cause of an accident or the extent of your injury, but it can also be used when more than one party is responsible for causing an accident – say, for example, you break sharply to avoid hitting a vehicle which has pulled out from a turning in front of you and you are rear-ended by a car travelling in excess of the speed limit behind you.
If you are found to have contributed to the cause of an accident or exacerbated the extent of your injury (for example, by not seeking medical attention as soon as possible), your settlement of compensation will be reduced to reflect your own lack of care. Comparative negligence – when more than one negligent party is responsible for your injuries – can delay the settlement of personal injury claims when two or more parties cannot reach a solution as to how liable each party is.
How Much Compensation for an Injury
How much compensation for an injury you will likely receive is subject to precedents within your state. Settlements of compensation for a personal injury are determined by the nature of the injury, the effect it has on the plaintiff´s quality of life, past and future medical expenses and (in some states) punitive damages implemented against a negligent party to make them think twice about making the same mistakes again.
Experts agree that most people sustaining a physical injury – and sometimes even those who have witnessed a traumatic event can suffer from some degree of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder; but this is just one example of psychological injury that can be included in personal injury claims. The victim of an accident which has left them immobile can often suffer from depression, and other emotional traumas – such as those caused by bullying, stress and harassment – can also be integrated into personal injury claims when the effect on the victim is quantifiable.
The financial costs of an injury can also extend beyond medical expenses and, when calculating how much compensation for an injury you may be entitled to, an injury lawyer will take into account transport costs to attend hospital appointments if you are unable to drive because of your injury, the costs associated with car – not only for the plaintiff, but for children or elderly relatives – and any loss of earnings the plaintiff may suffer – both now and in the future if the injury prevents a plaintiff from promotion to a higher paid position.
Free Advice for Making Personal Injury Claims
If you have been injured in an accident – or have sustained a loss due to the negligence of another – and you would like to discuss your eligibility for personal injury compensation, you are invited to call our toll-free injury claims advice service and speak directly with an experienced injury lawyer. Our lawyer will assess your case, establish that you are entitled to claim compensation for a personal injury and provide you with practical and accurate advice on the procedures that need to be completed in order for you to maximize the value of your claim.
There is no obligation on you for using our service, and all calls to our toll-free injury claims advice service are entirely confidential. We advise you not to delay in calling us as it may be possible that you are approached directly by the negligent party´s insurance carrier with an inappropriate offer of compensation, or that you have your claim for personal injury disqualified by your state´s time limitations on making personal injury claims.