Personal Injury Lawsuit Process
A personal injury lawsuit occurs when one individual or entity’s negligence causes an injury to another. It provides compensation to the victim of that accident that can cover medical expenses, lost wages due to the accident, and pain and suffering.
The plaintiff in a personal injury lawsuit suffered an injury at the hands of the other party. The defendant bears liability for the accident, either directly (due to causing the accident) or indirectly (due to providing coverage to the entity that caused the accident, usually through an insurance policy). read on to learn more about personal injury law from the skilled personal injury attorneys at Michael T. Gibson, P.A., Auto Justice Attorney.
Types of Personal Injury Lawsuits
Injuries occur every day in a variety of settings. When someone else causes that injury, you may have grounds for a personal injury lawsuit. Personal injury claims can include:
From big trucks to drunk drivers, many hazards exist on the road that can quickly lead to severe injuries. A driver or passenger in a vehicle who suffers injury in an auto accident caused by another party’s negligence may have grounds for a personal injury claim, as do pedestrians and cyclists injured in automobile crashes.
In an Orlando car accident, negligence may include:
- Driving while inebriated
- Distracted driving, including looking at a cell phone as well as eating or drinking, putting on makeup, or engaging in activities unrelated to driving while on the road
- Reckless driving
- Ignoring traffic signals
- Failure to yield
- A truck driver exceeding the number of hours he can legally spend on the road
A personal injury lawsuit related to an auto accident may include other parties beyond the driver who caused the accident. The vehicle manufacturer, the employer of a driver on the clock when the accident occurred, or a mechanic who recently worked on the vehicle and failed to repair it properly may share liability in the crash, depending on the circumstances that led to the accident.
Construction Site Accidents
Construction sites offer a wealth of potential hazards, especially if the crew managing the site does not take appropriate precautions to reduce the risk of injury. Construction accidents may include:
- Trips and falls on dangerous ground
- Crushing damage from equipment
- Misuse of tools
- Falls from heights
At a construction site, the company responsible for the site often bears liability for an accident. Subcontractors, however, may also share liability for the accident, as can the owners of the property, if the owners fail to properly disclose or manage a known hazard on the property.
Nursing Home Neglect or Abuse
Making the move to a nursing home represents a big decision for many seniors and their families. Most carefully research and choose a nursing home that will provide a high standard of care. Unfortunately, some nursing homes simply do not adhere to that standard. Some neglect their residents: providing inadequate food, medical care, or socialization, for example. Others may outright allow physical, sexual, or emotional abuse of residents. A nursing home that allows abuse to occur bears liability for those injuries. In some cases, such as an outside service providing employees, that service may also share liability for nursing home neglect or abuse.
Premises Liability Accidents
Slip and fall accidents can result in lifelong injuries to many people, including traumatic brain injury and spinal cord damage. Other types of premises liability accidents, including falling objects or unprotected or poorly-maintained swimming pools, can also lead to severe injury. In a premises liability lawsuit, the injured party seeks compensation from the owner or operator of the premises for injuries suffered in that location. Speak with a slip and fall accident attorney today.
Product Liability Accidents
Customers who purchase a specific product expect that product to work according to its specifications. Some manufacturers, however, fail in their duty of care to their customers, leaving them with severe injuries despite using the product according to its instructions. In a product liability lawsuit, the plaintiff may file a claim against the product manufacturer or distributor for a product that caused severe injuries in the course of normal use. You may also file a product liability lawsuit for substantial property damage related to a failed product.
Patients who place their health in the hands of a doctor or medical facility expect a high standard of care in those interactions. Sometimes, however, a doctor or provider might offer substandard care: failing to properly diagnose an illness or injury in the presence of adequate symptoms to make a diagnosis, diagnosing the wrong illness or injury in spite of clear symptoms, or harming the patient in the course of care, often through a serious mistake on the part of the provider. Medical malpractice often has lifelong ramifications for the victims or, in some cases, leads to death.
Who Has the Right to File a Personal Injury Lawsuit?
To file a personal injury lawsuit, you will establish several key facts with your attorney:
- First, that the other party bore a duty of care to you at the time of the accident. Your attorney will establish that the other party should have taken specific steps to protect you, but did not. In the case of an auto accident, for example, every driver bears a duty of care to every other party on the road and must exercise care to avoid any steps that could result in injury to those individuals. In a nursing home accident or medical malpractice event, the care provider bears a duty to provide adequate care to the patient or senior. Work with an attorney to establish the extent of the other party’s duty of care to you at the time of the accident.
- Next, that the liable entity violated that duty of care. A driver, staring down at her phone, missed a stop sign completely, resulting in a T-bone accident. A medical care provider failed to properly diagnose an injury, resulting in long-term complications to the patient. A violation of an entity’s duty of care can cause severe injury to the victim.
- The violation causes injury to the victim. You do not have grounds for a personal injury claim unless the liable entity’s violation caused an injury or financial loss to the victim. If, for example, that distracted driver sailed through an intersection, but the other drivers in that intersection stopped in time, avoiding an accident and potential injuries, the driver may not face a personal injury lawsuit. Likewise, if a patron at a store slips and falls due to a wet floor, but does not suffer injury in the fall, the store may not face a lawsuit.
If you suffer injury in an accident, consult an attorney to learn whether you have grounds for a personal injury lawsuit. Other circumstances can reduce your ability to file a claim, depending on the law related to that specific type of accident. For example, if you suffer an auto accident in Florida, you may not file a personal injury lawsuit until you exceed the limits of your personal injury protection insurance coverage.
What a Personal Injury Lawsuit Helps You Recover
A personal injury lawsuit helps you recover some of your losses related to the other party’s negligence. It cannot change your injuries or decrease your overall suffering, but it can provide you with the financial assistance you need to move forward with your life or to provide for the medical care you need.
In some cases, the limits of the insurance policy that covers the liable party can limit the compensation you ultimately receive for your claim. For example, Florida drivers who carry minimum auto insurance may offer a maximum of $10,000 in bodily injury protection coverage, even if the cost of your medical expenses far exceeds that amount. However, other entities may carry substantially higher insurance policies: commercial drivers, including those that drive for Uber or Lyft, usually carry much higher coverage. Construction companies and premises owners and operators may also carry substantial higher insurance to help protect their customers.
An attorney cannot guarantee the funds you will receive as a result of your personal injury lawsuit. However, most people file to recover compensation for:
- Your medical expenses related to the accident. From emergency care immediately after the accident to ongoing therapy as you recover from your injuries, the cost of medical care can add up substantially, especially if you suffer lifelong limitations due to your injuries. Consult an attorney to learn what other expenses constitute medical care and how to calculate your financial losses.
- Your other expenses related to the accident and your injuries. In addition to direct medical expenses, like ambulance transport or the cost of surgery, you may face costs like renovations to your home or your vehicle due to your injuries. You may calculate the cost of wheelchair ramps, widened doorways, bathroom modifications, or a modified vehicle in your personal injury lawsuit.
- Your lost wages due to the accident. If the accident prevents you from returning to work, you may lose your income just when you need it most. Compensation for that lost income can factor into your personal injury lawsuit.
- Your pain and suffering. Money cannot prevent the pain you suffered as a result of your accident, nor can it help you recreate lost moments or opportunities. It can, however, provide you with the necessary assistance as you work to rebuild your life in the wake of the accident.
Hiring an Attorney: An Effective Tool for Your Personal Injury Lawsuit
Your personal injury lawsuit can benefit immensely from having an experienced personal injury attorney on your side. Contact an attorney as soon after your accident as possible to get a better idea of the compensation you deserve for your injuries and how your claim will likely proceed. A personal injury attorney can:
In some personal injury lawsuits, you may have clear evidence that the other party caused your accident and your injuries: a police report and traffic camera footage from an auto accident, for example, or security footage of a puddle of water that caused a slip and fall accident at a local store, with no signs around and no effort made to help prevent injury to you and other patrons. After other injuries, however, you may need help collecting evidence that will help prove your claim. For example, in an auto accident at an intersection, especially one with a red light or stop sign, you may need help determining who caused the accident and identifying proof. An attorney can help collect that proof, from looking for video evidence to talking to witnesses from the scene of the accident. An attorney can also bring in expert witnesses, who may prove critical to reconstructing the scene of the accident.
Provide Advice About Compensation and Settlement Offers
Often, the insurance company that covers a party liable for serious injuries will issue a settlement offer soon after your accident. While that offer may seem appealing at first, it may also fail to address the full extent of your medical expenses or your other financial losses related to the accident. An experienced personal injury attorney can help you decide what to do about that offer, including when to accept an offer from the insurance company or liable entity and when you should continue to negotiate.
Negotiate on Your Behalf
Having an attorney on your side means you do not have to deal with the insurance company or liable entity directly. Instead, you can turn those concerns over to an attorney, who will take care of them for you. An attorney represents your best interests: a valuable asset when dealing with a personal injury claim, since the liable insurance company may focus more on limiting its financial liability than on providing you with the compensation you need and deserve for your injuries.
Following an accident with injuries due to someone else’s negligence, a personal injury lawsuit can help you get the compensation you deserve: funds that will help pay your medical bills or make it easier for you to navigate life following serious injuries. A personal injury lawsuit also provides a layer of accountability for the party that caused your injuries. Contact an attorney to learn more about a personal injury lawsuit and how it may help you.
Michael T. Gibson, P.A., Auto Justice Attorney
2420 S. Lakemont Avenue
Orlando, FL 32814