How a Personal Injury Claim Works

The United State Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that in 2006, the annual average employment in private industries was over 111,270,000 people. The number of people who were suffering from an on-the-job injury is well over 4,000,000- nearly 4 percent of the employed population. By law, those people are required to receive workman's compensation from their employers, to pay for their medical bills and cover the expenses of their leave of absence. But what happens when an employer refuses to pay these costs? Individuals can hire personal injury lawyers to argue a number of cases, including occupational injuries and illnesses, in a court of law. Each year, the United States courts see thousands of personal injury cases. In every claim, the plaintiff sues the defendant for a sum of money to cover medical expenses and personal damages.

Legal Grounds for Personal Injury

Grounds for a personal injury claim are based on the idea of negligence. A driver can neglect to come to a complete stop at a stoplight or a construction site manager can neglect to provide sufficient training material for his or her employees. Negligence can even be extended to include cases of slander or libel, where the plaintiff feels that his or her reputation has been damaged by the defendant.

One would also have cause to file a personal injury claim, if he or she could prove "strict liability"- meaning that the manufacturer of a defective product is held responsible for any dangers posed to the consumer. Also, assault and battery charges may be tried as a personal injury claim, under the provision of "intentional wrongdoing."

Some examples of personal injury claims include:

  • Medical malpractice
  • Use of defective products
  • Vehicular accidents
  • Dog attacks
  • Wrongful death
  • Slip and fall injuries
  • Workplace illnesses and injuries
  • Catastrophic injuries
  • Torts
  • Plane crashes
  • Truck injuries
  • Motorcycle accidents
  • Cruise ship and boat accidents
  • Brain damage
  • Nursing home abuse
  • Slander and libel
  • Theme park accident
  • Electrical shock
  • Burns

Each state has a specific time limit, known as a "statute of limitation," in which the claim has to be made. If the claim is made too late, the case will not be heard by the court and the plaintiff will not receive any monetary damages from the defendant. For this reason, contacting a personal injury attorney as soon as possible following an event is important.

Damges and Compensation

If a plaintiff takes the defendant to court and wins the personal injury case, he or she may be awarded varying forms and amounts of compensation from the judge or jury.

These damages can include, but are not limited to:

  • Medical bills
  • Lost wages
  • Future lost wages
  • Physical pain and suffering
  • Loss of consortium
  • Physical handicap or disfigurement

These lawsuits are battled out in civil courts, where the most likely form of punishment for the defendant is the payment of damages. He or she may also be required to pay punitive damages- an amount, determined by the court, to appease the plaintiff's damages in the event a personal injury stemmed from gross, reckless, or malicious actions by the defendant.

This court order is rare, but if the judge or jury can prove that the injury or illness was inflicted intentionally, they can determine the amount according to their own judgments. Criminal cases, in which the defendant may be charged heavy fines or jail time are not considered civil action suits, and are presented in a different court, but can also result in civil litigation that will cover victims' personal injury damages, and additionally, triers of the fact, either a judge or jury, can likewise assess punitive damages in these cases.

If any of these cases may apply to you, get a Free Consultation with a Personal Injury Attorney to ensure you get all the compensation you deserve.

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