What is a Personal Injury?
A personal injury can be physical or psychological and is explained as an injury to your body, mind, or emotions. It can also be traumatic. However, just because you were hurt, does not mean you have a personal injury claim.
Do I have a Personal Injury Case?
A personal injury lawsuit is brought by an injured person against the person or entity responsible for their injuries, to recover money that will compensate the injured party for their injuries and other losses.
There are three basic requirements to proceed in a personal injury claim. A successful claim, or lawsuit, is one where each of these elements is present.
Negligence. The party responsible for the accident, incident, or occurrence, was negligent. For example, if a driver ran a red light and crashed into an innocent victim’s car, the driver, under NJ Auto law, would be considered negligent. Negligence is a failure to exercise appropriate action, or care, under specific circumstances. While in the car accident example, an individual person caused the accident, an entity, company, or business, can also be a negligent party that caused an injury to someone.
Damages. The accident, incident, or occurrence, resulted in an actual injury to a person, and as a result, that person is not whole. As a result, they are entitled to monetary damages, to compensate them for their injuries. For example, if an innocent victim’s injuries resulted in medical bills, lost wages, and/or pain and suffering, the injured party can recover that amount of damages that would bring them as close to being whole as money can. Legally, damages are the sum of money that will adequately compensate an injured person for their injuries. Damages can be economic, such as lost wages or medical bills, or can be non-economic, such as pain and suffering.
Causation. The negligence of someone else must be the cause of the personal injury to another person. For example, if the innocent victim sustained injuries as a result of a crash, the negligent driver who caused the accident would be responsible for the injured person’s damages, since the collision caused the injury.
Timeline of A Personal Injury Case
Personal Injury Settlement Timeline
- Accident or Injury Occurs
- Seek Medical Attention
- Consult an Attorney
- Attorney Investigates Claim and Medical Records and opens an insurance claim if one has not already been opened.
- File a Lawsuit
- Mediation and/or Arbitration
How damages are assessed in a personal injury case
While it may seem counterintuitive, no formula would permit you to evaluate damages and arrive at an exact number for the value of each claim. Damages are assessed by evaluating each component of damages applicable to an injured person. Economic damages, such as medical bills, or lost wages, may be easily ascertained, but value for non-economic damages is not always easy to discern. Assessing the amount of non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering, takes skill, and experience. It is often the result of seeing outcomes in similar cases, and be able to identify different factors that may affect the outcome of a case, such as the extent of medical treatment involved, the venue where a case would be filed, and many other nuanced factors.
An experienced attorney can help you identify the value of your damages, and can guide in the best approach to negotiating a settlement. If a settlement cannot be reached, however, a jury is tasked with identifying the amount of the damages, based on their own life experience.
What types of damages are evaluated?
Damages are an attempt to compensate an injured person for their injuries and are based on many factors. An injured person may have claims for different types of damages. Some of the most common types of damages are:
Economic damages are essentially claims of financial loss that can reasonably be identified and linked to an injury. These claims are generally the easiest to calculate and may include things like the money to cover medical bills, or that you anticipate having to pay for future medical bills, a loss of income, a loss of future earning ability, household expenses, and any other expenses that resulted from the injury.
Non-economic loss claims are often known as general damages, and address the non-financial harm to an injured person such as pain and suffering, or mental anguish that was caused during, or as the result of, a personal injury. These damages can be difficult to assign a specific dollar amount.
WRONGFUL DEATH DAMAGES
A wrongful death claim provides damages for the surviving family and loved ones. The most common wrongful death damages include:
- funeral and burial expenses;
- cost of pre-death medical care;
- loss of financial contribution;
- loss of services and support, and
- loss of companionship and consortium.
What is a personal injury claim worth?
Personal injury claims are determined by the type of damages the injured person can claim, the extent of the injury or damages, and how those damages can be proved.