April 4, 2016
Do you have a personal injury claim?
Do you have a personal injury claim? Accidents happen every day, from auto accidents to injuries from unsafe products. You may be able to receive compensation for your injuries for many of these events, but some may not be suitable for filing a lawsuit. How do you know if your injury equals a personal injury claim?
What Is a “Personal Injury” Case?
Unlike a criminal case, which is prosecuted by the State, a personal injury case is between two private parties and is filed in civil court. Many different types of injuries fall under “personal injury” types of lawsuits. The most common types of personal injury claims are:
· Auto accidents
· Work accidents – many of these would fall under worker’s compensation, but significant injuries could still fall under negligence-based personal injury claims
· Slip and fall accidents
· Product liability injuries
· Medical malpractice injuries
In many of these cases, someone is at fault, but in some cases, at least legally speaking, there may be no one at fault. The primary requirement to file a personal injury claim is that someone was negligent or intentionally malicious, and those actions caused the injury.
Do you have a personal injury claim?
Negligence means that the party who caused the injury failed to take a reasonable, proper amount of care, and their actions subsequently caused harm or injury to another individual. The specific careless act must have actually caused the injury, and the connection between the injury and the act must be apparent. For example, in a car accident that causes a broken spine that is treated the same day, it is clear that the accident caused the back injury. In some cases, the connection may not be so easy to see. For example, if a person claims that they were injured in a car accident and that they suffer from vision problems months later, it may be harder to prove that the accident caused the injury. This is why medical treatment and keeping records of all doctors’ visits early on is so important to a personal injury case. Finally, the injury must result in actual harm to the victim that can be compensated, such as medical bills or pain and suffering.
In many accidents, both parties may be partially at fault. Massachusetts applies a “contributory negligence” rule in negligence cases. This means that if an injured party was at least somewhat responsible for the accident or injury, then any damages the victim would receive are reduced. If the injured party was more than 50 percent responsible, then no damages are awarded, but the party may receive a reduced portion of the damages if they are found to be less than 50 percent liable.
How Long Do I Have to File a Claim?
Every state has its own deadline, or “statute of limitations,” to file a suit in civil court. Massachusetts gives citizens three years to file a personal injury lawsuit after the accident occurs. Typically, the timeline begins on the date of the accident. In some cases, however, if a latent injury is not discovered until much later, the timeline can begin on the accident discovery date. It is unusual for courts to allow the time limit to begin much later, however, so it is very important to file your claim as soon as possible after the injury.
What if I Have More Questions?
If you or a loved one has been injured as a result of someone else’s actions, first seek medical attention for your injuries. Once you have been treated, consult a personal injury attorney to help you understand what compensation you may be entitled to. New Bedford attorney Paul Santos has nearly 30 years of experience representing clients in the New Bedford area and can represent you in your personal injury suit. Call 508-996-0941 or contact me online for a free initial consultation today.