Even when a person negligently causes injury to another individual, they cannot be "on the hook" for their actions indefinitely. The law requires the injured party to pursue their claim within a reasonable time of becoming aware of their injury. This ensures that both sides have ample opportunity to prepare their case before vital evidence is lost and witness memories fade. Statutes of limitation are determined under state law and can vary based on the type of injury.
What is the difference between a personal injury claim and a personal injury lawsuit?
A personal injury claim provides notice to the defendant's insurance company that you were injured and intend to seek compensation. A claim is typically initiated when your attorney sends the insurance company a letter advising them that you have retained legal representation. At this point, all communication goes through the attorney. After reviewing all of the relevant information, the attorney will present the insurance company with a demand package outlining the facts the case and requesting a specified amount of damages. If the insurance company fails to respond or refuses to provide satisfactory compensation, a lawsuit may be filed. Both parties are allowed time to exchange information and obtain evidence during a process called discovery. During this time settlement negotiations may continue. If the parties are unable to reach an agreement, the case is ultimately set for trial and presented to a judge or jury to determine the issues of fault and damages.
How long does it take for personal injury cases to settle?
The length of time that it takes to reach a settlement in a personal injury case can vary widely depending on the individual facts of the case. Some cases settle within a few weeks while others can drag on for months or even years. Cases that involve complex factual or legal issues surrounding liability or large sums of money typically take longer to settle. A settlement may also be delayed if the plaintiff has not reached their maximum level of medical improvement since it is unclear if and to what extent they may improve. As a general rule, plaintiffs typically receive less money when they accept a quick settlement.
What if I am partially at fault in an accident?
The issue of whether a plaintiff can recover damages even if they were partially at fault in an accident varies from state to state. A handful of states do not allow a plaintiff to recover if they bear any fault in the accident. The majority of states follow either a pure or a modified version of comparative negligence. Pure comparative negligence allows the plaintiff to recover for the portion of their injuries not caused by their own negligence. Under modified comparative negligence, a plaintiff who is less than 50 percent at fault can recover the portion of their damages caused by the other party's negligence.
Do I have to prove fault in a personal injury case?
In order to receive compensation for your injuries, an you must show that another party was responsible for your injuries. In most cases, this involves showing that the other party acted negligently; however, there are other ways of proving fault. Violating a statute, such as a vehicle code violation, may be considered negligence per se. In strict liability cases, a situation is considered so inherently dangerous that a defendant can be held liable even if they did not act negligently. A defendant can also be at fault if they engage in activities with the purpose or substantial certainty of causing harm to another person.
What is fault?
In legal terms, fault means that a person was either wholly or partially responsible for causing harm to another individual. A party determined to be at fault can be required to compensate the injured party for any damages arising from their actions. In most cases, fault is determined by insurance claims adjusters who examine all of the evidence pertaining to a claim, including police reports, witness statements, and photographic evidence of the scene.
What is a personal injury?
A personal injury is any type of hurt or damage done to a person's body ranging from broken bones to death. By definition, it does not include damage to a person's property or reputation. Personal injury claims typically arise out of automobile or pedestrian accidents, medical malpractice, defective products, workplace accidents, and failure to maintain a safe premises.
How is negligence determined?
Personal injury claims normally arise when one party acts negligently. A person acts negligently when they fail to exercise the level of care that would be expected in a given situation. To show negligence, it must be demonstrated that the party had a duty of care to act in a reasonable manner to prevent a potentially dangerous situation, that the party breached their duty of care, and that this breach resulted in an injury causing a monetary loss.
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