How do I know if I have a personal injury claim?

To have a personal injury case, you must be able to show that you have been injured. This may be a physical injury or it may be an emotional injury. In addition, you must be able to show that someone else (the defendant) is at fault for your injury under a negligence, strict liability or intentional misconduct theory. In some cases, it may be necessary for you to show that the other party is more at fault for the injury than you are. 

What if the accident is partly my fault? Can I still have a claim?

Even if an accident of injury was partially your fault you still may have a Claim based on the concept of Comparitive Negligence or Contributory Negligence.  The term "contributory negligence" is used to describe the actions of an injured person that may have also caused that person's own injuries. For example, a person who ignores a "Caution - Wet Floor" sign and each person is held accountable for the amount of damages that they caused". slips and falls in the supermarket may be found to have been careless and at fault for any injuries suffered.

How do I know if I may need an attorney?

If you have been seriously injured or are unsure as to the outcome of your injury, then an experienced personal injury attorney should always be consulted before you give any statements or sign any papers of any kind and as soon after your injury as possible. In a serious injury case, you are better off hiring an attorney as soon as possible.

What is a contingency fee?

A contingency fee is a fee that is used by lawyers in most personal injury cases. It is contingent when the fee is conditioned upon your attorney's successfully resolution of your case. A contingent fee is paid as a percentage of your monetary recovery. A contingent fee is what is meant when you hear "there is no fee unless there we recovery".The client is generally responsible for the out-of-pocket costs of litigation. Contingency fees are usually one third of what you win from the case. 

How long do I have to make a claim for personal injuries?

Every state has certain time limits, called "statutes of limitations," that govern the period during which you must file a personal injury lawsuit. In some states, for example, you may have as little as one year to file a lawsuit from an automobile accident. If you miss the statutory deadline for filing a case, your case is thrown out of court. 

What are the statutes of limitations?

The statutes of limitations are time frames in which you have to file a lawsuit. When the statute of limitations expires on your case, you simply don't have a case anymore. Statutes of limitation differ not only from state to state, but also in regard to the kinds of lawsuits involved. In some states the statute of limitations for medical malpractice, suits against governmental agencies, and wrongful death actions is shorter than that for other types of personal injury cases.

What is negligence?

It's the commission of a civil wrong, a tort, that accidentally causes injury to somebody by reason of failure to perform an expected duty with the care that a reasonably prudent person would use with regard to the safety of other in a particular circumstance. Negligence is any conduct that falls below the standards of behavior established by law for the protection of others against unreasonable risk of harm. A person has acted negligently if he or she has departed from the conduct expected of a reasonably prudent person acting under similar circumstances.

How do I prove negligence?

The burden of proof in a tort case, as in most civil law cases, is lower than the proof required in criminal law cases. In a criminal case, the state must prove a person's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. To win a personal injury lawsuit based on tort law, the plaintiff need only prove that a majority of the evidence shows that an injury was caused by the defendant's tortious actions.

What are negligence defenses?

In the case of negligence, damages awarded for a negligence claim may be reduced if there existed some type of contributory or comparative negligence. In some cases if an assumption of risk was involved the case may be dropped or the award reduced depending on the circumstances. You should consult an attorney for more information regarding negligence defenses. 

What is contributory negligence?

The term "contributory negligence" is used to describe the actions of an injured person that may have also caused that person's own injuries. For example, a person who ignores a "Wet Floor" sign and slips and falls in the supermarket may be found to have been careless and at fault for any injuries suffered.

What is comparative negligence?

Comparative negligence works on a percentage basis to assign a degree of fault for the injuries suffered. For example a plaintiff in a products liability case cannot be found more than fifty percent at fault in order to be compensated for injuries suffered. If a plaintiff is found to be fifty-one percent at fault, he or she will not receive any damages for injuries suffered. Additionally, for plaintiffs that are found to be less than fifty-percent at fault, the award is reduced in proportion to the plaintiff's percentage of fault.

What is assumption of risk?

If you have knowingly and voluntarily assumed the risk inherent in a particular action that caused an accident, you cannot sue the other person for negligence. If you went to a friends house and they told you not to go out the backdoor because the deck was being repaired and after being told you still went out the backdoor, you assume the risk.

What does duty mean in a negligence lawsuit?

When talking about negligence, duty is an obligation to protect and respect the safety of others around us. That means doing something that a reasonably wise person would do under the circumstances. We all have a duty to drive our automobiles safely and respect the other drivers and pedestrians around us. It is like when you come to a stop sign, you have a duty to make a complete stop before proceeding. 

What is considered a reasonable person?

A person has acted negligently if he or she has departed from the conduct expected of a reasonably prudent person acting under similar circumstances. The hypothetical reasonable person provides an objective by which the conduct of others is judged. In law, the reasonable person is not an average person or a typical person but a composite of the community's judgment as to how the typical community member should behave in situations that might pose a threat of harm to the public.

What is liability?

The term liability generally means that an individual, company or some other entity may be obligated to pay damages or compensation to another. The negligent driver, manufacturer or seller of a product may be responsible or liable to pay for damages including pain and suffering and financial losses if they are caused by their carelessness. 

What is strict or absolute liability?

Strict or absolute liability means that the defendant is responsible for injuring another person regardless of negligence or intent. It means that the manufacturer of a product is liable for selling any defective product that is considered "unreasonably dangerous" and results in injury either to the buyer or someone else who uses it. In strict product liability, it is unnecessary to prove that the manufacturer was negligent; all you have to do is show that the product was defective, that it was allowed to be sold, and that the injuries were caused by the defect in the product.

What is premises liability?

The term "premises liability" generally refers to accidents that occur due to the negligent maintenance, or unsafe or dangerous conditions upon property owned by someone other than the accident victim. Many states have laws that generally require landowners to maintain their property in a manner that does not cause injury to those that, for various reasons, visit the property.

What is intentional misconduct?

Intentional misconduct is a deliberate action resulting in an injury to another person or damage to another person's property. For example, if a manufacturer deliberately sells products it knows to be defective, it is causing harm on purpose. A plaintiff alleging intentional misconduct need not compare the defendant's actions to those of a reasonable person; he or she only must show that the defendant intended his or her actions.

What should I do if I've been injured in a slip & fall accident?

Most businesses and homeowners carry liability insurance to protect them in the event that someone is injured while on their property. This would include slip and fall type cases which are generally known as premise liability cases. The owner or possessor of a residence, land, or place of business has the duty to exercise reasonable care for the protection of those individuals who are invited to come upon the premises. This would include those who, as members of the public, come upon the land or enter a store or place of business to shop or do business.