Personal Injury Frequently Asked Questions

Often when someone is injured, their first thought isn't to call an attorney. But in the days and weeks following a serious injury, a new reality often sets in. In addition to a surge in medical bills, time off work can seriously impact your wallet.

If you've suffered an injury due to someone else's negligence, the courts allow you to file a personal injury lawsuit to recover financially from your situation.

Get the facts about filing an injury lawsuit.

What Exactly is a Personal Injury Case?

Personal injury cases arise from such a wide range of circumstances that it's impossible to list them all here.

Some of the most common are car accidents, slip and fall injuries, motorcycle accidents, and work injuries, but any time someone is harmed by the fault of another person or company, there might be a personal injury claim.

In fact, personal injury lawyers often handle negligence claims that don't actually involve physical injuries at all - negligent destruction of property, for instance.

A personal injury lawyer will be able to tell you whether or not you might have a personal injury case.

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What is Negligence?

The law requires us to act with "reasonable care". The specifics of what constitutes reasonable care vary somewhat from state to state and from situation to situation.

When someone fails to act with the reasonable care required by a given circumstance, that may be considered negligence.

That's important to you because in order to recover for most personal injuries, you and your personal attorney will have to prove that another person or a business was negligent, and that the negligence caused your personal injuries.

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How do I Know if I have a Personal Injury Case?

You can find out whether or not you have a viable personal injury claim by talking to a personal injury lawyer.

In general and in addition to other elements, there are a few main things a claimant must prove in order to recover in a personal injury case: that you suffered damages, that the defendant was negligent, and that the defendant's negligence caused your damages.

Even if you have a valid claim, though, your personal injury attorney will have to investigate whether or not you would be able to collect on your claim.

If the other party does not have insurance and does not have other assets that could be used to compensate you, then it may be that you have a valid claim but will be unable to collect compensation for it.

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How Much is my Personal Injury Case Worth?

A number of factors figure into the monetary value of your personal injury claim.

For instance, the value of your case is impacted by the nature and extent of your personal injuries; the amount of your medical bills, lost wages, property damage, and other financial losses; pain and suffering; and present and future disability.

Even when those factors are considered, there are significant variations in the value of a personal injury claim based on the amount of insurance involved or the assets of the defendant, any partial fault on the part of the injured person, the victim's willingness/ability to invest a long period of time in litigating the claim versus the need for a relatively quick settlement, and more.

Assessing the value of your personal injury case isn't an exact science, and your personal injury attorney won't be able to give you a definite value up front.

However, a personal injury lawyer can weigh the various factors to give you an overall picture of the strengths and weaknesses of your case.

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What Should I Do if I'm Hurt in an Accident?

First and foremost, get medical attention. At the same time, if you're able, you may want to create a record that could help protect your claim. File a police report, either at the scene or as soon as possible afterward. Try to get names and contact information from any witnesses.

If you're able, write down exactly what happened as soon as possible after the event. Accident scene photographs often provide valuable evidence that can't be duplicated after the fact.

And, of course, you can talk to a personal injury lawyer to get advice about how to proceed, what kind of records you should be keeping, and how to handle any phone calls you should receive from the other party's insurance company.

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What is the Difference Between Compensatory and Punitive Damages, and which can I Get?

Compensatory damages are damages meant to compensate. They pay you back for your actual losses.

In some states, compensatory damages may cover only actual economic losses, like medical bills and lost income. In others, compensatory damages may include compensation for things like pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life.

The purpose of compensatory damages is to put you as nearly as possible back in the position you would have been in had the defendant's negligence not occurred. Punitive damages, on the other hand, are intended to punish the defendant and to discourage others from engaging in the kind of negligence involved in your case.

Some states have eliminated or "capped" punitive damage awards. Where they are allowed, which is usually in rare cases, an award of punitive damages typically requires a showing of something more than mere negligence.

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Should I Deal with Insurance Companies on My Own?

Insurance companies are mainly concerned with their own interests rather than your best interest. The business of an insurance company is to take in as many premiums as possible while paying out as few claims as possible.

Their representatives may be trained to minimize or outright deny your claim, and they typically employ a variety of tactics to accomplish that - sometimes even pretending to be on your side and want to help you get your claim resolved quickly.

A personal injury lawyer can negotiate on your behalf and should know how to work with - and against - insurance companies.

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When Should I Call a Lawyer?

If you're considering filing a personal injury lawsuit, immediately after your injury would probably be the ideal time to speak with an attorney.

If it's past that point and you haven't already contacted a personal injury attorney, the second-best time may be now. Simply fill out our free personal injury case evaluation form or call us toll-free at 877-288-7564, and we'll help you arrange a free consultation with a lawyer in your area.

Every state has different statutes of limitations - time periods that can forever bar you from bringing a personal injury claim. Even if you're well within the limitations period, though, timely legal advice can be critical.

Getting advice and guidance from a personal injury lawyer as early as possible may help you avoid mistakes that could later harm your personal injury case.

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What is the Likelihood that My Case will Go to Trial?

Less than 25% of personal injury cases go to trial, and most of those settle before the trial ends. Whether or not your personal injury case goes to trial, though, isn't dependent just on the odds.

It's dependent on a variety of factors like the value of the claim, the insurance company involved, the certainty of the evidence, and more. Your personal injury attorney will be able to give you a better sense of whether or not yours is a case that will likely go to trial, but, just like case valuation, the analysis is not an exact science.

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What Happens if I was Engaging in Dangerous Activity when I was Injured?

If you were engaging in a dangerous activity or were otherwise aware of a risk that you could be injured, you might be deemed to have "assumed the risk". In many personal injury cases, "assumption of risk" is a valid defense to a plaintiff's personal injury claim.

Assumption of risk is most commonly used as a defense in products liability cases when the plaintiff failed to follow directions or warnings or to properly maintain the product.

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How can You Help Me Find a Personal Injury Lawyer in My Area?

Total Injury is sponsored by a nationwide network of personal injury attorneys. All you have to do is call us toll-free at 877-288-7564 or fill out our free case evaluation form, and we'll help you arrange for a free consultation with a personal injury lawyer in your area.

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The above summary of personal injury law is by no means all-inclusive and is not legal advice. For the latest information on personal injury laws and for legal advice, speak to a local personal injury lawyer in your state.

Copyright © 2011 TotalInjury, LLC. (as licensee). All rights reserved.

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