While accidents are a part of life, some accidents cause injuries because of someone else’s negligence. If you get into a car accident, your doctor misdiagnoses a health condition, you slip and fall in a place of business or a dog bites you, you could have a personal injury case. Cellino Law has the experience and dedication you deserve to protect your rights and collect fair damages from the at-fault party. Let your search for a trusted Pittsford, NY personal injury lawyer begin and end with us.
Personal Injury Basics
When someone suffers harm from an injury or accident and another party bears liability for the harm endured, the victim could have grounds for a personal injury lawsuit. The responsible party could have insurance that covers the victim’s lost wages, medical bills and ongoing health care costs, but even then, the policy may not account for all expenses and damages related to the incident.
Injured parties may enlist help from a personal injury legal advocate to represent them in civil court. Before a personal injury case turns into a lawsuit, parties may resolve the matter out of court with an informal settlement.
Usually, parties handle disputes over fault for an injury or accident with an informal settlement. Those involved in the settlement often include lawyers, insurance companies and parties with a personal stake in the matter. To settle, the plaintiff and defendant negotiate before drafting an agreement that states both parties agree to not pursue a lawsuit or any other further legal action. Instead, they agree to resolve the issue through an agreed-upon settlement.
Injured parties initiate personal injury cases by filing a civil complaint against the party responsible for the injury, such as a business owner, corporation, business, private citizen or government agency. The complaint alleges the defendant acted negligently in connection with the incident that caused the plaintiff harm.
Statute of Limitations
Those who feel they suffered harm because of another’s careless behavior must act quickly if they want to pursue a personal injury case. Injured parties only have a limited amount of time to take legal action, which is the statute of limitations. Often, the clock for the statute of limitations starts when the plaintiff initially discovers the injury or sustains harm because of another’s negligence. Once the clock starts, the injured person should seek a reputable legal advocate to build a case and seek fair damages.
The statute of limitations varies from state to state, and statutes also vary according to injury type. For example, in Texas, a person has two years to take legal action for suffering an injury, one year for slander or libel and five years for sex crimes.
Under the law of negligence, individuals and entities must act according to standards of conduct. When parties violate those standards and a person becomes harmed or injured, the law requires the responsible party to compensate the victim. Sometimes, the law of negligence extends to an individual’s failure to act.
To build a strong personal injury case, plaintiffs must establish negligence.
Elements of Negligence
These are the five elements of negligence a personal injury victim must show to build a successful case:
- The duty of care the defendant owes the plaintiff
- A breach of the duty of care
- A clear connection between the at-fault party’s actions and the victim’s harm
- The defendant’s ability to foresee the harm, which is called proximate cause
- Damages triggered by the defendant’s actions
Duty factors into various situations. For instance, motorists have a duty to follow the rules of the road and drive in a way that does not put others’ safety at risk. Speeding, driving distracted and blasting through red lights violates that duty. If a violation causes injuries, the harmed individual has a solid case that the responsible driver’s breach of responsibilities is the proximate cause and cause in fact of the harm endured.
A law or statute may establish specific duties, sometimes. Attorneys, physicians and other professionals must adhere to their profession’s expected standard of care. When a client or patient becomes injured because a professional neglected to uphold the standard of care, the physician or attorney could face accusations of malpractice.
Sometimes, plaintiffs bear fault for their injuries. For example, while a personal injury defendant may run a red light, the plaintiff may engage in distracted driving during the accident, which could contribute to the injuries suffered and harm endured. Under such circumstances, the victim may receive reduced damages according to the percentage of fault she or he bears for the incident.
Rather than comparative negligence laws, a few states follow contributory negligence regulations. In those states, if a defendant proves the plaintiff bore even partial blame for the injury or accident, the victim does not receive damages.
After becoming injured, victims often wonder about their case’s worth. To determine that figure, they must determine their personal injury case’s damages, which are an injury’s mental, financial and physical costs.
Usually, personal injury damages are compensatory, which means they compensate the victim for what she or he lost because of the injury or accident. Examples of compensatory damages include:
- Income: If a personal injury leaves a person unable to earn a living, the victim could qualify for income damages. These compensate the plaintiff for money already lost because of an accident or injury and income the person stands to lose in the future while recovering from a personal injury.
- Medical treatment: Most personal injury cases involve medical treatment damages. These include the cost of medical care connected to the incident and reimbursement for medical treatment already received. Much like income damages, medical treatment damages also account for future medical care.
- Property loss: If an accident destroys a plaintiff’s clothing, vehicle or other personal items, he or she may qualify for property loss damages. These help repair or replace the property at its fair market value.
- Pain and suffering: Personal injury plaintiffs must pay attention to their emotional and mental health while recovering from an injury or accident. If they endure severe discomfort and pain while recovering, they may qualify for pain and suffering damages.
The reason courts award compensatory damages is to make the plaintiff financially whole after the incident.
In some personal injury cases, a judge deems a defendant’s actions especially negligent or disgraceful. If this happens, the plaintiff may receive punitive damages along with compensatory damages. Rather than make the victim whole, the goal of punitive damages is to punish the responsible party and deter others who may think of engaging in similar negligent acts. Because punitive damages may exceed several millions of dollars, states have limits on how much damages a plaintiff may receive.
Schedule Your Consultation Today
If you feel another party bears responsibility for injuries or harm you suffered, you deserve to see if you have a personal injury case. Cellino Law has over six decades of experience protecting the rights of harmed New York citizens. To speak with a Pittsford, NY personal injury lawyer, call 800-555-555. Let us show you how we recovered over $2 billion in settlements for our clients.