When someone is negligent and causes someone else to get injured, the injured person should have the right to seek compensation. However, the criminal justice system does not have the victim’s rights at the top of its priority list; its primary goal is to ensure that the wrongdoer is held accountable for any crimes they commit and that they repay their debt to society.
For victims to recover the costs associated with an injury, they must go through the civil court system. A personal injury case gives injured people the chance to seek monetary compensation for their losses.
What is the Goal of a Personal Injury Case?
While the goal of a criminal case is to punish a perpetrator for their illegal actions, the goal of a civil claim is to make victims whole through financial compensation. Part of this system involves understanding that money does not properly compensate a victim for their pain, suffering, mental trauma, and other losses. However, this is the only type of compensation that this system can offer a victim, so attorneys use a variety of strategies to determine the financial value of an injury.
Types of Accidents Covered by Personal Injury Law
A personal injury claim allows you to seek compensation for almost any injury caused by someone else’s negligence or malice. Different types of personal injury cases include:
- Vehicle accidents, including accidents with commercial vehicles
- Pedestrian accidents
- Bicycle accidents
- Injuries that occur at work but are caused by a third party
- Medical malpractice
- Wrongful death
- Dog bites
- Animal attacks
- Defective products
The Process of a Personal Injury Claim
After an accident causing an injury, you begin your claim by retaining a personal injury attorney. The attorney digs into your accident and injuries, looks at your medical records, and figures out how much your injuries are worth.
From there, they draft a letter explaining what they are requesting for your injuries. They send this to the liable party’s insurance company. This number is just a starting point for negotiations; it is unlikely that it will be the amount you actually receive.
During negotiations, both people may bring up evidence or ideas to support a higher or lower settlement amount. If all goes well, both parties eventually come to an agreement. You sign a document that waives your right to sue in exchange for the settlement. They process the paperwork and send the check. Before you receive your money, your attorney’s fee is taken out. So are any other claims made to the money. For example, if your health insurance paid out part of your medical bills, they are entitled to recoup those costs from your settlement.
If a settlement is not agreed upon, your attorney will file a lawsuit against the at-fault party. They will have built a court case that demonstrates the other party’s duty to you, their negligence, how their negligence caused your injuries, and your losses. You then go to court and both sides make their case. The jury determines how much (if anything) you are owed by the defendant. At any point during this process, settling is still an option. The majority of cases are settled before a full trial is completed.
What You Can Recover in a Personal Injury Case
You may be able to recover several types of compensation in a personal injury case. Types of damages include:
- Medical bills
- Future medical expenses
- Lost income
- Future lost wages
- Mental trauma
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of consortium
- Loss of enjoyment of life
Statute of Limitations
Each state has laws regarding the statute of limitations for a personal injury case. In Alabama, you must file a case within two years of the date of your accident. If you miss this deadline, you will be unable to recover compensation. If your claim is against the government, you must meet even stricter deadlines. A claim against a municipality has a six-month statute of limitations, and a claim against a county has a one-year statute of limitations.
Mann & Potter, P.C. is Here to Help with Your Personal Injury Case Have you been injured due to someone else’s negligence? You may be able to get compensated for your losses. To discuss your case and plan your next step, contact Mann & Potter, P.C. online.