What is a personal injury?

What exactly is a personal injury?

A personal injury is an injury to the body, but can also include mental and emotional injuries. Personal injuries do not include injuries to property.

What does the term "reasonable person" mean?

A person has acted negligently if he or she has departed from the conduct expected of a reasonably prudent person acting under the same or similar circumstances. The hypothetical reasonable person provides an objective by which the conduct of others is judged. Using the truck driver example above, the driver who failed to strap down the heavy machinery on his truck would be considered negligent if other truck drivers hauling the same machinery would typically strap such machinery down.

Are medical bills included in a bodily injury claim?

Medical bills can be included in injury claims. They are considered part of the economic damages suffered as a result of the injury. Other economic damages are lost wages, time off work as well as future expenses that will be required.

There are also non-economic damages that can be included in an injury claim. They include, but are not limited to, pain and suffering as well as disability and emotional distress.

Is there a minimum personal injury settlement amount?

The simple answer is no. There is no minimum or maximum amount anyone can tell you your case will be worth. Personal injury settlements depend on many factors, including the injuries, medical bills, lost wages, and whether or not you are willing to settle with the insurance company or if you decide to go to court.

Do all personal injury claims go to trial?

No, all personal injury claims do not go to trial. Most are settled with the insurance company of the party at fault.

What does 'duty' mean in a lawsuit for injuries?

When talking about negligence, duty is the legal obligation that the law imposes on us to protect and respect the safety of others around us. That means doing something that a reasonably prudent person would do under the same circumstances. For example, when we drive a car, we owe a duty to drive safely to everyone else on the highway and to the pedestrians around us. Similarly, when a company manufactures a car, it has the duty to make sure it is manufactured safely. The extent of a duty to act safely, though, is often the complicated part of a lawsuit.

Do personal injury cases have statutes of limitations?

Yes. Every state has its own statute of limitations, which means every state has its own rules regarding how long you have to file a lawsuit after the accident or incident that caused the injury. If you do not file your personal injury claim within the statute of limitations, you will lose your right to sue.

It is a good idea to contact an attorney in your area if you are unfamiliar with your state’s statute of limitations. The specific time frame permitted for filing a law suit varies not only by the state but can also vary depending on the type of personal injury claim.

What happens during a deposition?

If you file a personal injury lawsuit, the attorney for the defendant will likely “depose” you or take your deposition.  A deposition is the process in which the defendant’s attorney asks you questions about the accident and your answers are recorded.  You swear to tell the truth before you answer.  A deposition is usually done in a conference room.  Later, if you testify in court, your answers will be compared to your deposition testimony and the defendant will question you as to any inconsistencies.

How do I know if I need a personal injury attorney?

If you have been injured and it was not your fault, you may want to recover for your injuries and expenses. While you can try and handle a personal injury claim on your own, it is a good idea to seek legal assistance in the following situations:

  • Your injuries are serious.
  • The insurance company is not cooperating with you.
  • The insurance company is saying that you are at fault.
  • The insurance company claims you do not need medical treatments that your doctor has recommended.
  • You are having difficulty of any type with the person at fault, or the insurance company.
  • The person at fault for your injuries hired an attorney.

There are many other reasons why you would want to hire an attorney. Most often people who hire an attorney receive a larger settlement than people who do not hire an attorney. Additionally, if you have been injured it is a good idea to have an attorney handle the stress of a personal injury case while you focus on your recovery.

The information on this page is meant to provide a general overview of the law. The laws in your state and/or city may deviate significantly from those described here. If you have specific questions related to your situation you should speak with a local attorney.

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