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WHAT IS "PERSONAL INJURY?"

"Personal Injury" is the "umbrella term" for any situation in which bodily injury results from trauma. There are many types of personal injury claims such as premises liability (slip and fall, construction site accident), motor vehicle (auto, truck or train), product liability (defective designed or manufactured product including pharmaceuticals), medical malpractice (hospital, physician or dentist) or workers' compensation (bodily injury of any nature sustained at work). As a family member, you may be entitled to bring a "wrongful death" claim for harm caused to a loved one

Initially, a capable personal injury attorney will, through interviews with you and others, and by a thorough investigation, determine if your injuries are actionable. If it is felt you have a reasonable case, the next step is to move as quickly as possible with gathering evidence to carry the case forward.

Keys to successful pursuit of any personal injury claim are:

  • Promptness in reporting your injury to an attorney
  • Accuracy in recollection and/or note-taking
  • Cooperation with your attorney in answering questions and fully disclosing information (even telling how you might have contributed to your injury)

Product Liability
The term "product liability" includes any damage to your health caused by a defective product. Both the manufacturer and all suppliers are responsible for any defect which may cause injury. The product can be for consumer, recreational or industrial use. These cases tend to be complex factually and legally with special laws that create "strict liability," a basis for assessing fault even if there is no direct evidence of negligence on part of the manufacturer or supplier.

Premises Liability/Negligence
"Premises liability" (or "premises negligence") is when a dangerous condition exists at a property and the owner or other responsible parties knew (or should have known) about it. If that condition causes injury, someone may be responsible and liable for damages. The duty to provide a safe property, whether it is a homeowner's sidewalk, construction site or shopping center, may fall upon a person, corporation, or government agency. A review of applicable building codes and industry standards such as OSHA regulations is a crucial step in the process of properly evaluating a premises liability claim.

Medical Malpractice/Negligence
These are often complicated situations, especially since there may not be an immediate connection between a medical activity and an injury. Medical malpractice cases require intense investigation and the retention of medical experts to evaluate the medical records and testify in court about how the physician or dentist deviated from acceptable standards of care. An emerging area has been pharmaceutical litigation. Often a drug is rushed to market without adequate research to uncover its true risks. Consequently, patients and their physicians are not informed of potential devastating risks. In many situations, a safer, alternative drug could have been prescribed.

Workers' Compensation
Any injury you receive on the job may entitle you to workers' compensation benefits from your employer, which are typically limited to wage and medical expense reimbursement. However, the incident leading to your injuries may be due to the fault of someone other than your employer, which could be the basis of a personal injury claim against the responsible party that would then include compensation for pain and suffering. Many workers' compensation claims involve complex issues. Do your injuries threaten your career or limit your eventual return to work? Do you believe you are being pressured to return to work too early? Are you dissatisfied with your medical treatment? Are there accident-related losses or expenses not covered by your employer or by workers' compensation? You should seek the advice of a qualified personal injury attorney to address these issues even if your case appears to be going smoothly. The same advice would be true of a disability claim involving the U. S. Social Security Administration.

Motor Vehicle Claims
Handling an auto or train personal injury claim today involves deciphering many statutory and regulatory schemes governing insurance. When you are involved in an auto accident, a myriad of insurance coverage issues arises. Under a typical auto policy, there may be medical and wage loss benefits, bodily injury and property damage coverage and uninsured and underinsured motorist benefits to name of few. You also frequently encounter health insurance or workers' compensation carriers asserting liens against the potential settlement. If you are involved in a train accident, there may be federal statutes and regulations governing insurance benefits and fault or negligence for the accident. It is crucial that an experienced personal injury lawyer be involved to sort through all of the legal issues and, in addition, undertake a thorough investigation of the accident to evaluate fault and the extent of injuries. Do not be fooled by the insurance adjuster for the person or entity that caused the accident when they say you do not need a lawyer. They will not deal with you fairly if you are unrepresented. It is their goal to pay as little as possible in a personal injury claim, not to be fair to you or your family.

Timing Essential
Please note that many types of personal injuries are governed by statutes of limitations. You can run out of time in which to file an injury claim, and your attorney needs time to prepare a firm case. So do not delay finding out whether you might have a case. If in doubt, consult an attorney, and do it early.

Please note: the preceding is not to be construed as legal advice. Each situation is different, and only the information resulting from a detailed review of a particular situation by a qualified attorney should be construed as legally significant.