When To Sue for Personal Injury
A person has the right to file a personal injury lawsuit for any type of injury. While dog bites, car, truck, and motorcycle accidents, and slip and fall accidents are among the most common accidents that result in personal injury lawsuits, they aren’t the only ones you can sue for. In fact, if you were injured in any way due to the actions of another, so long as you have the evidence to prove it was the other person’s fault, you can sue for personal injury.
In personal injury law, the goal is generally to prove that the person you’re bringing the lawsuit against acted negligently and that their negligence led to your injury. The burden of proof is on the claimant and is made up of two elements, fault and damages. The evidence you’ll need to collect to prove your claim varies depending on the incident. However, the most common types of evidence include police reports (especially in the case of car accidents), eyewitness statements, photos and/or videos of the scene, medical bills and other medical records, documentation showing missed time at work, and incident reports from a store or other business where the incident occurred (in the case of slip and fall accidents).
Finally, while being able to prove fault and damages are two critical aspects of bringing a personal injury case against someone, the question of when to sue for personal injury also comes down to timing. There is a statute of limitations on personal injury cases, which vary by state. For example, in California, injured parties have two years from the date of the accident to file a personal injury lawsuit (this is extended to three years if property damage was involved and reduced to a mere six months if the incident involved a government employee or vehicle). As you can see, there are multiple factors to consider when deciding when to sue for personal injury.
Compensation for Injury or Loss
When you suffer an injury following an accident, it can take a significant toll on your mental and physical well-being. From having to pay expensive medical bills to missed work owing to your recovery, there is a myriad of ways in which injury affects one’s life. As such, the primary purpose of most personal injury lawsuits is to receive compensation, otherwise known as recovering damages, for the pain you have been caused. That is why, in personal injury cases, a dollar value is assigned to the claimant’s injuries, and it is this amount that they seek to win. If a case is won and compensation is awarded, the money is referred to as compensatory damages. Compensatory damages are the opposite of punitive damages in that they are designed to compensate the injured party rather than punish the defendant. Compensatory damages are divided into two categories: special damages and general damages. Special damages seek to compensate the victim for monetary losses such as the cost of medical bills, while general damages aim to compensate the victim for non-monetary losses, such as loss of enjoyment or a reduced quality of life. We’ll dive deeper into the two types of compensatory damages below.
Personal Injury Compensation
As mentioned above, there are two types of compensation awarded in personal injury cases, special damages and general damages. Special damages are the easiest to calculate as they comprise quantifiable expenses paid for or lost by the claimant owing to the injury. Medical expenses are one of the most prominent examples of special damages in personal injury cases. Claimants can seek to recover all kinds of medical costs relating to their injuries, including hospital bills, prescription medications, surgeries, emergency medical transportation, and at-home caretaking. It’s also worth mentioning that an injured party can seek to recover damages relating to both past and future medical expenses in the event that their injury requires ongoing doctor’s visits, physical therapy, or rehabilitation. Meanwhile, other types of special damages claimants can seek compensation for range from lost wages or loss of earning capacity due to one’s injury to funeral expenses in the case of a wrongful death lawsuit or the cost of repairs or replacement of personal property damaged in the incident.
On the other hand, general damages are more difficult to calculate as they attempt to put a price on non-monetary losses. Non-monetary losses that claimants can seek to recover in personal injury cases include mental anguish, pain and suffering, loss of companionship, loss of enjoyment, inconvenience, and physical disfigurement or impairment. The way that general damages are calculated varies on a case-by-case basis, however, generally, the more severe the physical injury, the more value your non-monetary losses will be assigned.
There is no limit to the types of damages a claimant can seek to recover, so we always recommend discussing your case in detail with a personal injury attorney who can advise you on the more relevant types of damages to your case.
Punitive Damages in Personal Injury Cases
Unlike compensatory damages, punitive damages are not designed to compensate the victim but rather to punish the defendant. In personal injury cases, punitive damages are far less common than compensatory damages, but in the event that they are awarded, they are typically done so alongside compensatory damages. Punitive damages are used as a way of both punishing the defendant for their egregious actions and deterring others from behaving similarly in the future. They are generally only awarded to defendants who acted particularly recklessly or maliciously, in ways that could have easily caused harm to another. Examples of such behavior include driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs or texting while driving.
The questions of whether to bring a personal injury claim against another and when to file such a claim can be difficult to answer. That is why we recommend hiring an experienced personal injury attorney who can offer their professional opinion on your potential lawsuit. A personal injury attorney will listen to the unique circumstances of your case and explain the legal options available to you. They can also provide their opinion on the likely outcome of your case and advise you on the types of evidence worth gathering. Look for a personal injury law firm that operates on a contingency fee basis. This will ensure there are no upfront costs or hidden fees. Instead, they only get paid if they win your case. That’s how we’ve always operated here at AAESQ Law. We have the best interests of our clients at heart and will steadfastly represent them until the very end.
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