Personal injury claims are a type of civil lawsuit claimed after negligence or wrongdoing causes harm to an individual. The at-fault party in a personal injury lawsuit might include an individual present at the scene, a company involved in the incident, or a third-party.
What Is a Personal Injury Claim?
The term “personal injury claim” often brings to mind an auto accident where one party is at fault for the other party’s injuries. While this is an excellent example of a hazardous situation that could lead to a lawsuit, personal injury cases cover a much wider array of injuries than most people realize. Anything from a workplace injury to a case of medical malpractice could lead to a personal injury lawsuit.
What is necessary when filing a tort lawsuit of this kind is an actual injury, whether it be a physical or psychological injury. In the event that an injury is fatal, a wrongful death lawsuit can be filed by family members of the deceased or other beneficiaries.
Common Types of Personal Injury Claims
Personal Injury Claims Process
While laws surrounding personal injury claims differ from state to state, the general claims process regarding civil lawsuits remains similar across the country.
Free Case Review
Making a personal injury claim can be overwhelming. If you believe you have a viable injury claim but are unsure, it can be extremely helpful to seek the legal advice of an experienced personal injury lawyer. Most lawyers and law firms offer free case evaluations to help you determine if filing a lawsuit is right for you.
Research and Documentation
After hiring a personal injury attorney or law firm, your legal team will begin by collecting all relevant information necessary to build a strong case before filing an official legal complaint in the necessary time limit. This may include reviewing medical records or relevant documentation, interviewing witnesses, and determining the damages accrued like medical bills or lost wages. This process and the information collected during this time will go a long way in plaintiff’s claim so it’s an imperative and sometimes lengthy step in the legal process.
Filing a Personal Injury Claim
Having an experienced lawyer by your side can make writing and filing a legal claim a whole lot easier. Your lawyer will know the best way to format the complaint, what to include and where to file it. Your lawyer will also be keeping track of your state’s statute of limitations to make sure the claim is filed in a timely manner.
Discovery Phase and Pretrial Motions
Once a personal injury claim is made, both the plaintiff and defendant will share documentation during the discovery phase. Based on information shared, either side may choose to file a pretrial motion. During this time, the defendant may also offer a settlement to the injured person after reviewing all evidence.
Trial and Verdict
While the majority of personal injury claims are settled out of court, on occasion, a plaintiff’s attorney may recommend taking the case to trial if the defendant is not willing to offer a high enough settlement. Typically a plaintiff has a chance to win more money through a trial verdict, but they also risk losing the trial and receiving no compensation.
In a verdict, the judge or jury will first decide whether or not the defendant is liable for the actions that he or she is accused of based on the evidence and arguments presented during the trial. If the defendant is found liable, deliberation will proceed to determine the monetary compensation owed to the plaintiff.
Plaintiffs, in personal injury suits, generally seek compensation for economic and non-economic damages known as compensatory damages. If a judge or jury believes that the defendant’s actions were intentional or especially despicable, they may also choose to award punitive damages to the plaintiff. Some states have passed laws that set a cap on certain types of legal damages, limiting the potential compensation amount awarded to plaintiffs.
In a civil case like a personal injury lawsuit, either side can appeal the final verdict to a higher court. Depending on which way the verdict goes, either side may appeal the evidence or witness statements presented at the trial or the trial procedures themselves. If the verdict favors the plaintiff, a defendant may also choose to appeal the final verdict to lower the awarded amount.
Examples of Personal Injury Claims
Because personal injury claims can cover such a wide range of injuries and accidents, it’s common to see these lawsuits and verdicts regularly in the news. Here are just a few examples of major personal injury verdicts that have made headlines.
$50.3 Million – Flores Suit
Three hours into labor, the fetal monitor attached to Aimee Flores’ son began to show drops in his heart rate, indicating a potential lack of oxygen. Aimee was later prescribed Pitocin, a drug that encourages contractions but can also add additional stress to the baby. After several hours, the decision was made to perform a c-section.
Julien Flores was born blue and lifeless. Though revived, he suffered significant brain damage and was later diagnosed with cerebral palsy. Aimee and David Flores filed a lawsuit against the NorthShore University Health System, the attending doctor and the attending nurse for medical negligence that led to their son’s brain damage. The jury sided with the Flores and awarded the family a total of $50.3 million to cover medical expenses and the costs of long-term care.
$3.4 Million – Smith Suit
Construction worker Leslie Smith was working onsite near a scaffolding structure which held several of his co-workers. While waiting for the signal to send mixed cement up to his co-workers on the scaffolding, Smith was struck by a fallen plank. During the ordeal, Smith also tripped, injuring his left shoulder and right knee.
Because of the construction accident, Smith suffered a tendon tear in his shoulder, knee injuries, and had to have his ring finger amputated from his right hand after the finger turned gangrenous. The jury awarded Smith a total of $3.4 million for present and future pain and suffering.
$15 Million – Amparo Suit
While sitting in traffic, Jorge Amparo’s car was rear-ended by an 18-wheeler truck and pushed into the car in front of him. Amparo’s car and the truck were both totaled in the truck accident. Jaws of Life were utilized to remove Amparo from his vehicle.
Following the accident, Amparo required surgery to treat an extruded disc, suffered nerve damage in his left leg, and experienced post-concussion syndrome. The jury awarded him a total of $14,272,000 in damages. Amparo’s wife was additionally awarded loss of consortium damages totaling $727,500, bringing the couple’s overall compensation amount to $15 million.Were you or a loved one the victim of a truck accident? Speak with a personal injury lawyer to learn about your options
Personal Injury Claim Terminology
The plaintiff is the party that files the legal complaint, initiating the lawsuit. In personal injury claims, the plaintiff is often the victim or injured party in the incident.
The defendant is the accused party in a lawsuit. In a personal injury claim, the defendant could be either an individual or a company sued for wrongdoing.
The legal term used to describe a plaintiff’s injury. The term encompasses both physical and mental harm done to the injured person.
An area of civil law which seeks financial compensation for individuals injured by the wrongdoing or negligence of another.