Personal Injury Law
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What Is a Personal Injury?
Personal injury means injury to the body or mind – basically an injury to a person, as opposed to an injury to property. A civil action for damages can be brought against the individuals, such as security guards or drivers, or entities, such as manufacturers or stores, that caused the injury.
There are three major categories of personal injury suits:
- Suits for intentional harm, such as battery, assault, or false imprisonment.
- Negligence suits, where the harm was the result of another person’s carelessness.
- Defamation suits, where the harm was to the injured party’s reputation.
Common Personal Injury Matters
Common personal injury claims include:
- Automobile Accidents: rear endings, fender benders, failure to yield, drunk drivers, car crashes, etc.
- Product Liability: defective or dangerous products that cause injuries
- Slip and Falls / Premises Liability: injuries occurring on the property of another person or business
- Medical Malpractice: patient injured by a health care provider
- Construction Accidents: employee or worker injured on a construction site
- Dog Bites and Animal Attacks
What Is Your Personal Injury Case Worth?
Typically, personal injury plaintiffs are awarded compensatory damages – a monetary award intended to put the plaintiff back in the position he was in prior to the injury. There are two types of compensatory damages: general and specific.
1) General damages
General damages compensate for the injury itself, the most commonly known type is pain and suffering damages. Other types of general damages are awarded for ongoing disability, or disfigurement. The amount of general damages will depend on:
- Severity of the injuries
- Pain and suffering
- Your future medical prognosis
- Any pre-existing injuries
2) Specific damages
Specific damages, also called special damages compensate for measurable monetary loss resulting from the injury. Specific damages cover both past and future lost wages, medical bills, and other consequential costs. The amount will depend on:
- Amount of medical bills
- How the injuries have affected your ability to work
- How the injuries have affected your lifestyle
3) Punitive Damages
Another type of award that may be granted in a personal injury case is punitive damages. While the goal of awarding compensatory damages is to make the plaintiff whole again, punitive damages are intended to punish the defendant for willful, wanton, or malicious conduct. As such, punitive damages are typically only awarded in personal injury suits resulting from intentional harm (see above).
How to Help Your Personal Injury Claim
You can help your personal injury claim if you:
- Document the facts of your injury
- Collect physical evidence and take photos
- Keep all your medical records and receipts
- Locate witnesses
Personal Injury Time Limits
Most types of legal claims, including personal injury claims, are subject to a “statute of limitations” – a deadline for filing a suit. In the case of personal injury suits, the statute of limitations begins running from the time of the injury.
Statute of limitations periods vary by state, so be sure to consult a local attorney if you are unsure of the statute of limitations in your area.
Do You Need an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney?
If you or a loved one have been injured, you should speak to an experienced personal injury attorney immediately to learn more about preserving your rights and remedies.
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Last Modified: 12-28-2015 10:34 AM PST
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