What Is A Personal Injury Claim | Gordon & Partners



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What Is A Personal Injury Claim?

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Sustaining an injury can be devastating, especially when the cause is another party’s negligence. Medical bills and missed work can create monumental stress. If you find yourself in this situation, there is a means of recourse: a personal injury lawsuit. With the proper legal assistance, you can claim compensation for your pain and suffering.

What Counts as a Personal Injury?

The definition of personal injury is relatively broad to accommodate the many ways plaintiffs can experience harm. For instance, homeowners and commercial property owners have premises liability, which is the duty to ensure the property is safe for guests. Disrepair, dangerous wildlife and lax security protocols can create hazardous environments that breach the duty of care.

Product liability is another common source of lawsuits. If a product’s design or quality causes harm to consumers, they can hold the manufacturer responsible through the courts. This also applies to products that lack proper warnings or instructions.

With this in mind, what kind of injuries can you seek redress for? There are two categories: emotional distress and physical harm.

Emotional Distress

Psychological injuries are just as viable as physical ones. A traumatic experience can lead to emotional distress, as can the suffering caused by physical wounds. While emotional harm is difficult to quantify, the legal system recognizes that it can drastically impact a plaintiff’s life.

While you can sue someone for maliciously inflicting emotional distress, intention isn’t a requirement. A company can accidentally cause mental anguish through negligence with the same effects — the results (and your ability to prove their extent) are what matters.

How can you present legal evidence if emotional distress is unquantifiable? There are ways to show that the defendant’s actions have impacted your quality of life. A medical diagnosis is excellent evidence because it comes from an expert and includes long-term documentation:

  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Depression
  • Anxiety

If your emotional distress has impaired your ability to work, that can also go a long way toward proving your personal injury. Medical leave documentation or a termination notice are both tangible proof that your life has changed due to your psychological state.

Physical Harm

Physical injuries are easier to prove since tests offer quantifiable evidence and plenty of documentation:

This list is far from exhaustive, but it demonstrates the wide range of physical wounds recognized by the courts. Some conditions, such as traumatic head injuries, have long-lasting complications:

  • Psychiatric problems
  • Neuroendocrine dysregulation
  • Neurodegenerative diseases
  • Sleep disorders
  • Seizures

Like their psychological counterparts, physical injuries can interfere with your ability to work. They can also decrease your quality of life in ways that are easier to measure. For instance, if you lose a limb, you may struggle to complete daily activities. Juries, which may contain members without medical knowledge, can see the difficulty without needing an expert to explain.

Physical injuries also have a psychological impact, especially when they alter a person’s abilities. Life-long disabilities often cause emotional distress, so it’s common to ask for compensation for both.

What kind of evidence do you need to prove physical harm? There are many examples, and the more you have, the stronger your case:

  • Insurance documentation
  • Police reports
  • Written diagnoses and treatment plans
  • Receipts and bills for hospitalization, medication, medical equipment and mobility aids
  • Photos of injuries and the accident scene

Your written account can also be helpful, though objective evidence may carry more weight. If people witnessed the injurious event, their statements can also add context for the jury.

What Is the Personal Injury Claim Process?

Legal action for personal injury compensation can take approximately three years from start to finish. A settlement can shorten the timeline, but the following are the biggest factors affecting the process:

  • Jurisdiction caseload
  • Severity of injuries
  • Damage amount
  • Case complexity

While not part of the legal process, your first step after sustaining an injury should be seeking medical attention. Doing so ensures you’re well enough to face the long road ahead. Additionally, the speed at which you seek care can affect your legal arguments. For example, if you wait a week before visiting the hospital, the defendant may argue that your condition can’t be severe since you didn’t deem the injury a high priority.

Quick medical attention also ensures evidence of the full extent of your injuries. Waiting to document lacerations and bruises allows wounds to heal and, therefore, doesn’t present your true condition after the injuring event.

Keep in mind that you only have a short window to file a lawsuit. Generally, the statute of limitations expires four years after you sustain the injury. However, this may shorten to six months if you sue a government entity. Alternatively, you may have longer to file if your injuries don’t manifest immediately.

To start the process, you’ll need to file a claim. A lawyer can help you do so and represent you throughout the case. Once the courts have the paperwork on record, the process typically looks like this:

  • Court motions
  • Discovery
  • Trial
  • Decision

If you lose the lawsuit, you can appeal the decision, though there’s no guarantee the verdict will change.

Most cases never reach the decision stage. Instead, defendants usually settle to avoid the expense and stress of a trial. You can decide, on the advice of your attorney, whether to accept the settlement or move forward with legal action.

Why Should You Hire a Personal Injury Lawyer?

It’s a good idea to hire a personal injury lawyer immediately after sustaining an injury. The faster you retain an attorney, the faster you can begin the claims process.

An experienced lawyer can also determine whether you have a case. The court may not award damages for mild injuries or situations where your own negligence was partly responsible for the resulting harm. Experienced attorneys can advise on the likelihood of winning, saving you time and money if the chance is low.

If it’s worth proceeding with the claim, you’ll want an attorney in your corner. A lawyer’s extensive knowledge ensures you present a strong argument in court, which is essential since the defendant will likely also retain legal representation. As part of the trial process, your side must successfully argue several points:

  • The defendant owed you a duty of care.
  • The defendant breached that duty of care.
  • This breach resulted in your injury.
  • Your injury materially affected you.

The damages awarded depend on how much your injuries have impacted your life. You can seek compensation for economic damages, such as lost income and medical expenses, but the courts also award monetary compensation for non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering.

Your attorney will also represent you during settlement negotiation. Personal injury lawyers know what amount is fair and what you could expect if you won the court case. Proper counsel can keep you from settling for a deal that isn’t in your best interests.

Finally, law firms take care of the many details accompanying legal action. Courts require that plaintiffs submit paperwork by deadlines at the risk of cases getting dismissed. Your legal team will stay on top of these requirements, allowing you to focus on recuperating.

How Can Gordon & Partners Assist?

Gordon & Partners can help you claim compensation for a personal injury. Our attorneys have won millions of dollars for our clients, and we can do the same for you. To schedule a free consultation, visit us online or call 1-855-722-2552 today.

Further Resources

Verdicts & Settlements

R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company product liability.

R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company product liability.

Jury verdict for the wrongful death of a 63-year-old man survived by his widow.

Verdict against cigarette manufacturer for family of local lawyer who died of lung cancer.

Verdict against tobacco manufacturer for family of man who died from lung cancer as a result of smoking.

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