When another person’s carelessness or recklessness results in you becoming the victim of an injury, you quickly understand that the ramifications can extend far beyond the physical harm caused.
Depending on the severity of the injury you have sustained, life as you once knew it can be turned upside down. As a result of treating your injuries, medical bills can pile up and overwhelm you – despite insurance – particularly if you have been unable to continue working or earning any income. When you take into account the mental toll that comes with suffering a severe injury, it can be easy to start feeling hopeless.
If you are dealing with the aftermath of sustaining an injury resulting from another person’s negligence, it’s important to understand that you don’t have to battle it alone.
Your legal rights
When you sustain an injury, especially at the hands of someone else’s negligence, life can feel particularly unfair. You didn’t deserve to become a victim of the accident, yet your injuries may have a significant impact upon your ability to return to your normal way of living. Personal injury victims have legal rights, and the party at fault can be held liable.
Available compensation for successful claimants
Economic damages relate to monetary losses that are easy to determine and calculate. In the case of a personal injury claim, it is possible to achieve financial compensations for any economic damages suffered as a result of your injuries. These losses can include:
- Medical expenses, surgical expenses, hospital stays, and rehabilitation costs;
- Medical equipment expenses, such as a wheelchair or walker, as well as medications to treat your injuries;
- Lost wages resulting from missing work during your recovery period (and potentially future lost earnings should you be left permanently unable to return to work); and
- Property damage compensation in the event of the accident involving damage to property such as a car, boat, motorcycle, etc.
Non-economic damages relate to losses that, whilst very real, cannot be factually valued at a specific dollar amount. Although no amount of compensation can reverse these damages, a personal injury claim can at least attempt to compensate you for these painful losses. These can include:
- Physical pain suffered both during and after the accident occurred;
- Emotional trauma impacting you as a result of the ordeal, such as anxiety, depression or insomnia; and
- Loss of quality of life – loss of enjoyment and potentially loss of companionship depending on the circumstances
In rare cases, the actions leading to the injuries caused are so severe that compensatory damages alone aren’t sufficient to punish the guilty party. Under these circumstances, the party who caused your injuries may indeed face punitive damages. Unlike the examples of compensation detailed above, punitive damages are not intended to cover the victim’s losses. Rather, they are designed to punish the guilty party for their heinous actions, whilst serving as a deterrent to those who may consider carrying out similar actions in the future.
Statutes of limitations
While you initially recover from an injury, it can be hard to even consider pursuing a personal injury claim. Whilst that’s completely understandable, and it’s important that you focus on healing, it’s imperative to understand that you mustn’t wait too long. Statutes of limitations are in place to limit the amount of time that an injury victim can pursue a claim against the party at fault. These limitations vary between states, so it is crucial to seek advice from a personal injury lawyer as soon as you are able to following the accident. Successful claims for personal injury losses involve a lot of preparatory work, so the sooner you get your claim filed, the better.
You need a lawyer
Whilst your claim may seem clear-cut, personal injury cases are rarely black and white, and the mere fact that an injury was sustained does not in itself prove a case. An experienced personal injury lawyer is thoroughly in-tune with the claims process and will be essential to the success of your claim.
Amongst other things, an expert personal injury lawyer will:
- Handle negotiations and communications with insurance companies;
- Obtain the necessary medical records to validate the severity of your injuries; and
- Build a framework around your claim that is expertly tailored to your individual circumstances
The peace of mind you gain from being represented by an expert personal injury lawyer allows you the space to focus your efforts on your recovery and healing.
Court is not the only outcome
For most, the idea of a personal injury claim conjures up visions of fierce arguments in packed courtrooms. However, for the majority of such claims, this is far from accurate. Many personal injury claims are settled with insurance companies out of court. This means that, should your claim be successful, there is every chance that you will receive compensation without setting foot inside a courtroom. In the unlikely event that your case does progress to trial, however, you want to ensure that you have an experienced and knowledgeable attorney in your corner.
If you are in any way unsure as to how best to proceed after sustaining an injury, consult with a personal injury lawyer who can assess the validity of your claim, and take this action as soon as you are able to.