What makes a personal injury lawsuit different from other types of lawsuits? How do you know what kind of lawsuit to pursue? Here are a few facts about personal injury law.
1. Available Compensation
Compensation from a personal injury, commonly called damages, is what the injured party can recover. There are two main types of damages. When you’ve experienced an abstract loss, like emotional distress, you can file for non-economic damages, also called general damages. Your personal injury attorney can help you figure out how much to ask for in non-economic damages. Some states place a cap on what you can ask for, which your lawyer can also help you understand. When your personal injury has resulted in demonstrable financial losses like the inability to work or copious medical expenses, you can pursue economic damages. This type of damages is easier to figure out because the financial amounts are usually quite specific.
2. Statutes of Limitations
There is a certain period within which you are able to file a personal injury lawsuit, which is called the statute of limitations. If you miss the deadline to file, your case will not be heard. These vary by state and by the situation that the lawsuit was filed for. For example, if you want to file a lawsuit for a car accident, in California, you have three years in which to file. If you miss that date, the statute of limitations has passed and you can no longer try to file your lawsuit. However, if you were in an accident in New Jersey, the statute of limitations there is six years, so you would have a longer period in which to file.
3. Settling a Case
Settling a case is basically agreeing to drop the lawsuit in exchange for a monetary payout. Settling also means you’ll have to sign a release that absolves the plaintiff. Essentially, the case is closed and you can’t pursue any further legal action against the other party. If you are offered a settlement deal, it’s ultimately your choice to accept it or deny it and continue pursuing your case. However, your attorney can help you review the offer and decide whether to accept or not. Keep in mind that a settlement can occur at any point after you file your lawsuit and before a jury returns a verdict.
4. The Basis for a Claim
There are three bases for a personal injury claim. In an average case, the basis is negligence, that is, the person at fault didn’t do anything on purpose. He or she simply failed to exercise caution in whatever he or she was doing. Examples of negligence include car accidents and medical malpractice.
Intentional wrongs are basically the opposite. If someone hits you, you can file a civil charge for battery. Even if the person did it as a joke, you can make the case that he or she intentionally harmed you.
Strict liability is similar to negligence but applies mainly to manufacturers and designers whose products are defective and dangerous.
All personal injury lawsuits involve damages and liabilities, but every lawsuit is different so it’s important to understand a bit about personal injury law when filing a lawsuit.