A personal injury claim is a civil lawsuit that an injured party files against another party. The purpose of such a lawsuit is to hold the at-fault party responsible for the harm they caused to the injured party. These harms can include the injured party’s reputation, mental health, physical well-being, or financial stability.
A personal injury attorney can assist you with filing this type of claim, as well as gather the necessary evidence to prove the other party’s liability. Furthermore, your attorney can assist in settling your claim either with the at-fault party or that party’s insurance company.
Personal injuries are expensive for almost everyone. The medical bills alone are astronomical. If you further take into account lost profits, future medical care, and pain and suffering, these costs can be even more overwhelming. If another party is responsible for these injuries (or “damages”) due to their negligent action or inaction or due to their intentional harmful action, you would likely be able to seek compensation from this party through filing a personal injury claim against them.
Filing a Personal Injury Claim
Each state has different laws for filing a claim against another party for your personal injuries. For example, California laws may not be the same as Nevada personal injury laws. Let’s say you are in Las Vegas and you had an accident, then you would need an experienced local personal injury attorney to file your claim.
Statute of Limitations
Similarly, each state has specific time limits within which a plaintiff may file a personal injury cause of action. These time limits are referred to as the statute of limitations. Typically, the statute of limitations for a personal injury claim is two (2) years. The exception to this statute of limitations is when you are dealing with a claim for medical malpractice. Depending on when the plaintiff uncovered the malpractice issue, the plaintiff has approximately one (1) to three (3) years to file a claim.
Fault-Based Auto Insurance
After a car accident in a fault state for auto insurance and auto accidents, you will file an injury claim with the insurance company for the party who caused the accident. The at-fault driver’s insurer will be responsible for your medical bills, lost wages, and other damages related to the accident.
In a no-fault state, you would initially look to your own insurance company to cover losses related to a car accident, no matter who is at fault.
Pure Comparative Fault
Some states use pure comparative fault in personal injury claims. Pure comparative fault takes into consideration that an injured party could be partially responsible for an accident. This rule requires courts and juries to apportion a percentage of fault to all parties involved in an accident, including an injury victim. Every party is then responsible for damages based on their share of fault.
For example, suppose you are in a rear-end crash and incur $80,000 worth of damages. Suppose a court or jury assigns you 20% of the blame for the accident for not paying attention to your surroundings. In this case, you could only recover $64,000 (80%).
A reputable and knowledgeable attorney will be able to assist in evaluating a client’s percentage of fault.
Negligence vs. Intentional Torts
Personal injury encompasses negligent acts as well as intentional acts against the injured party. These two types of acts, however, have very different elements that must be proved in order to file a claim and prevail on that claim.
Negligence includes the following elements that must be proven in order to prevail:
- Defendant has a legal duty to Plaintiff;
- Defendant breached the legal duty;
- Defendant’s breach of the legal duty caused harm to the Plaintiff; and
- Plaintiff suffered damages because of Defendant’s breach of the legal duty.
There are about seven (7) intentional torts, with four (4) of them causing harm to a person. Those include assault, battery, false imprisonment, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Each of these causes of action have their own elements.
Generally, a plaintiff must prove the following elements for an intentional tort cause of action:
- Defendant acted voluntarily against Plaintiff;
- With the actual (purposeful) or implied (knowing with substantial certainty) intent; and
- To cause harm to Plaintiff by performing such a voluntary act.
Consult With A Personal Injury Lawyer Before You File a Claim
Personal injury claims can be time-consuming and overwhelming for anyone. There are many parts to a personal injury cause of action, and there are many moving pieces relating to the court system. Make sure you are prepared and make sure you consult with an experienced personal injury attorney first.