Filing a legal claim against another party may be intimidating; legal fees can be expensive, and it may take a long time for your case to be heard by a judge and/or jury. However, this is what some guilty parties bank on. If you have been injured and believe you can make a strong case, it may be time to file a personal injury claim.
This article provides an introduction to filing your personal injury claim; from understanding what a personal injury lawsuit involves and learning more about settlement agreements before they go to negotiation and approval processes. Before we continue further into this topic, it’s important to note that you should hire an attorney to help you.
Not only can an attorney assist with understanding how strong your case is and when/where to push, they also may provide invaluable help when trying to obtain an equitable settlement in the end.
Defining a Personal Injury Case
Personal injury cases arise when one party alleges another party caused them harm and takes legal action for compensation. Once your lawsuit has been filed, you become the plaintiff while those you’re making the case against become defendants.
Depending on how and what caused your injuries, defendants could include individuals or companies as well as government agencies or any other necessary entities. You should investigate all sources that contributed to them before beginning your lawsuit against any or all. Depending on how they caused harm and why damages should be sought from multiple defendants.
There is an assortment of personal injury cases; among the more frequently heard of are defamation, assault, and product liability claims; but this article cannot possibly list them all!
The specifics of each case are different, and this may result in two similar cases being rewarded with different amounts of money.
Once you’ve explained your situation to your attorney, they’ll explain whether or not you can make a case against the defendant and how much money you can sue for realistically.
Claiming Damages In Your Case
Damages refer to the amount of money a plaintiff receives from the defendant. There are a few different kinds of damages one can seek, and we’ll start by explaining compensatory damages. The point of compensatory damages is to pay back as much of the money the plaintiff lost as feasible.
Specifically for workplace accidents, compensatory damages might include compensation for medical costs and any lost income related to being temporarily out of work – both are considered special damages, though property damage might also fall within their jurisdiction. Contrary to their name, special damages tend to be easier for victims of workplace accidents to claim than general damages (the next type we’ll discuss).
General damages are not always as “tangible” as special damages, which makes them a bit more difficult to prove and be compensated for. For example, if you can make an emotional distress claim, you’ll be seeking compensation for the distress caused by the defendant, which may include anxiety, depression, fear, and more.
If you can receive a diagnosis from a therapist or psychiatrist, it may help prove your case, but this isn’t available for some general damages, such as loss of enjoyment. Before making any general damage claims, consult with your lawyer and what you could try to get and how likely it is that you’ll succeed on each of your claims.
Understanding and Proving Liability
Each case that comes before the court is different and therefore there may be various ways in which liability for the defendant can be established.
One effective means by which parties may be held liable for the damage they’ve caused is through strict liability. Strict liability arises when defendants produce products that cause injury when used according to intended use – one example would be Abilify litigation which fell into this category of strict liability litigation.
Bristol-Myers Squibb and Otsuka America Pharmaceuticals were hit with many personal injury suits in 2017 and 2018, alleging the drug caused compulsive behaviors such as compulsive shopping or bingeing. Prior to 2016, warning labels weren’t present on American labels but instead appeared only on European or Canadian ones.
In early May, the FDA stated that the warning needs to be moved from the “post-marketing experience” section of the label to the “warning” section. Many US citizens filed claims against the manufacturers not long after the announcements and received settlements for years after.
Other types of liability include negligence and intentional wrongs. Intentional wrongs are self-explanatory: the defendant intended to cause the plaintiff harm. Victims of assault, battery and self-imprisonment can file for negligence claims against those responsible. To win one successfully, victims must demonstrate that a duty was owed them from defendant; that it wasn’t met; damages ensued as a result; and that this negligence led directly to your injuries.
Reaching a Settlement
Only a small number of personal injury claims reach the courtroom. Usually, a settlement is reached long before then. A settlement is when both the defendant(s) and the plaintiff agree on a payout. Typically, a settlement agreement includes a clause preventing the plaintiff from bringing the case forward again and absolving the defendant of any wrongdoing.
A settlement may be appealing as it is quicker and easier to get one than to reach a verdict in court; the success rate of personal injury cases is about 50%, and, as mentioned before, the defendant doesn’t have to admit fault. Settlements can also be offered at any point after the case is filed.
If you believe you have been injured and feel that a claim should be pursued, consult a personal injury attorney immediately. They can evaluate all of the details from your situation to assess if there’s cause, how much compensation may be due, help negotiate a settlement on your behalf – among many other services they can offer.
One thing to keep in mind when dealing with personal injury cases is that while attorneys can advise on whether or not you accept a settlement offer, ultimately this decision must rest solely with you.