I have suffered a personal injury, what rights do I have? (part II)

Last month, we talked about personal injury cases. We also talked about what type of cases may be compensable. You should remember that a personal injury action is a type of lawsuit alleging that the plaintiff’s injury has been caused by the negligence of another person.

The most common types of personal injury claims are road traffic accidents, accidents at work, tripping accidents or slip and falls, assault claims, accidents in the home, product defect accidents (product liability) and holiday accidents. The term personal injury also incorporates medical, professional and dental accidents (commonly referred to as medical malpractice or professional malpractice actions) and conditions that are often classified as industrial disease cases, including asbestosis and mesothelioma, chest diseases (e.g., emphysema, pneumoconiosis, silicosis, chronic bronchitis, asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and chronic obstructive airways disease), vibration white finger, occupational deafness, occupational stress, contact dermititis, and repetitive strain injury cases.

If the negligence of another party can be proved, the injured party may be entitled to monetary compensation from that party. The extent each person is at fault is the most important factor affecting how much the insurance company is likely to pay. The damages formula gives you a range of how much your injuries might be worth, but only after you figure in the question of fault you do know the actual compensation value of your claim — that is, how much an insurance company will pay you.

Determining fault for an accident is not an exact science, but in most claims both your attorney and the insurance adjuster will at least have a good idea whether the insured person was entirely at fault, or if you were a little at fault, or if you were a lot at fault. Whatever that rough percentage of your comparative fault might be — 10%, 50%, 75% — is the amount by which the damages formula total will be reduced to arrive at a final figure.

To determine what your claim is worth, you must first know the types of damages for which you may be compensated. Usually, a person who is liable for an accident — and therefore his or her liability insurance company — must pay an injured person for:

  • medical care and related expenses;
  • income lost because of the accident, because of time spent unable to work or undergoing treatment for injuries;
  • permanent physical disability or disfigurement;
  • loss of family, social, and educational experiences, including missed school or training, vacation or recreation, or a special event;
  • emotional damages, such as stress, embarrassment, depression, or strains on family relationships — for example, the inability to take care of children, anxiety over the effects of an accident on an unborn child, or interference with sexual relations; and
  • damaged property.

You should remember that we represent clients with personal injuries on a “contingency basis,” in which the attorney’s fee is a percentage of the plaintiff’s eventual compensation, payable when the case is resolved. You should also remember that having an attorney becomes essential because, oftentimes, cases become extremely complex, such as in medical malpractice cases. Furthermore, there are issues about the statute of limitations applicable to your case or potential case, which will affect your ability to recover damages or file a lawsuit.

You should also keep in mind that this article is not intended to provide you with legal advice; it is intended only to provide guidance about personal injury actions or potential actions.  Furthermore, the article is not intended to explain or identify all potential issues that may arise in a personal injury case.  Each case is fact-specific and therefore similar cases may have different outcomes.

I handle personal injury cases.  If you have any questions or concerns about a personal injury you, a friend, or a family member sustained, you can call me at (315) 480-5085, (315) 422-5673, send me a fax at (315) 466-5673, or e-mail me at joseperez@joseperezyourlawyer.com. The Law Office of Jose Perez is located at 120 East Washington Street, Suite 925, Syracuse, New York 13202. Please look for my next article in the June edition.

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