The decision to hire a lawyer can prove incredibly personal, especially if you suffer devastating injuries and financial losses related to a specific accident. Not only that, but also you want to make sure that you get the right lawyer for the claim you need to file: not a lawyer who specializes in, for example, divorce or employment law, but one who focuses on personal injury law and the rights of serious injury victims.
When do you need to hire a personal injury lawyer, and what kinds of cases do personal injury lawyers handle? Read on for more information.
Characteristics of Personal Injury Lawsuits
Personal injury lawsuits often involve several key characteristics.
1. Someone else’s negligent actions led to an accident.
To have grounds for a personal injury claim of any type, you will need to establish that someone else’s negligent actions led to the accident and, therefore, to your injuries.
Negligent actions can include a wide range of behaviors. Most of the time, negligence occurs due to inattention or carelessness. You will not typically file a personal injury claim due to the malicious actions of another party, though malicious intent may have its own set of legal consequences.
Negligence on the road, for example, might include speeding, driving while distracted, or even driving while intoxicated. A negligent medical care provider might fail to provide the high standard of care both needed and expected by a patient, while a negligent nursing home worker might fail to provide the senior with the care to maintain a high quality of life.
In the case of a personal injury claim, those negligent actions must cause an accident of some kind. Suppose, for example, that a negligent landlord fails to take care of repairs to the stairs leading to an upper floor of an apartment building. The residents know about the poor maintenance and need for repairs, so they choose to avoid those stairs whenever possible, and residents exercise extreme caution when they have to climb them. As a result, no accidents occur. While the landlord may face other legal penalties, including fines, for failing to properly and safely maintain the building, if an accident has not occurred, the residents do not have grounds for a claim.
As another example, imagine that a driver on the road chooses to text and drive, causing his attention to rest on the phone instead of on the other drivers around him. He does not cause an accident, however, because he puts the phone down and regains control of his vehicle. Likewise, a drunk driver who manages to get his vehicle home safely may not face a personal injury claim from another driver; though he may face criminal consequences for those actions.
2. The accident must cause injuries to the victim.
To file a personal injury claim, the victim will need to show that the accident caused injuries or damages. Consider, for example, a store that fails to clean up a spill. A patron walks across the floor, slips on the wet surface, and falls. If the victim gets up and shakes off the fall uninjured, she also does not need to file a personal injury claim. On the other hand, if the victim suffers serious injuries, like a broken hip, due to the fall, the victim may have grounds to file a personal injury claim against the store.
Likewise, if a driver causes an accident and everyone walks away with no injuries, while the victims may have the right to file a claim against the driver’s insurance company for compensation for damage to the vehicle and other property, the victims may not need to file a personal injury claim. On the other hand, many car accident victims do sustain severe injuries, including back and neck injuries, broken bones, or traumatic brain injuries (TBIs). If the victims did suffer injuries, they can claim compensation through a personal injury claim once the cost of those injuries exceeds the coverage offered by a personal injury protection plan.
Common Types of Personal Injury Claims
Victims have the right to file a personal injury claim any time they suffer serious injury due to another party’s negligence. However, some personal injury claims come up more commonly than others.
Car Accident Claims
Car accidents can occur for a variety of reasons. Even a moment’s negligence on the road, from the decision to speed to get ahead of traffic or make up for lost time to deciding to look down for a moment to check a cell phone, can lead to serious consequences and immense injuries. In Florida, vehicle owners must carry personal injury protection insurance in addition to their liability insurance. Once injuries from a car accident exceed PIP insurance, those drivers may file a personal injury claim that can help them recover what they lost on medical costs or the inability to work after the accident.
Motorcycle Accident Claims
Motorcycle accidents frequently result in more serious injuries for the victims of those accidents than the average car accident. After a motorcycle accident, victims may need to file for substantial compensation to pay medical bills while recovering from those injuries.
Truck Accident Claims
Big truck accidents fall into a category of their own. Often, big truck accidents require a more complex, in-depth investigation than the average car accident, since big truck accidents may involve a great deal more complexity. It may also take longer to fully determine liability after a big truck accident, especially if the truck driver shares liability with the trucking company.
Any time a child suffers serious injury due to someone else’s negligence, it can cause devastation for the entire family. Families often have to change their careers and their plans to provide ongoing care for a seriously injured child. Serious injuries can also lead to ongoing medical bills, and many families rely on the funds from a personal injury claim to help provide the treatment their children need. Since child injury claims often prove delicate and complex, having an attorney on your side will help manage that claim.
Catastrophic injuries can occur in nearly any type of accident, from slip and fall accidents to car accidents. However, catastrophic injuries exist separately from other types of personal injury claims because of the way they permanently disrupt a victim’s life. Catastrophic injuries involve permanent injuries that may have lifelong consequences for the victim, including the loss of hearing, sight, or speech; severe traumatic brain injury; spinal cord injuries; and amputations. If you suffered a catastrophic injury, having an attorney on your side can help maximize the compensation you can recover.
Do You Need a Personal Injury Attorney?
If you have suffered serious injuries due to someone else’s negligence, having a personal injury attorney on your side can make a big difference in the compensation you can recover. Do not try to handle your personal injury claim on your own, which could make it much more difficult to navigate or lead to you accepting a settlement offer that does not reflect your specific needs. Instead, contact an experienced personal injury lawyer to discuss your rights following a serious accident or learn more about your next steps and how to move forward with a personal injury claim.