Definition – Personal injury is a collective term that covers a wide variety of wrongs and damages done to a person, and / or his or hers property, rights or reputation. If you have suffered loss, accident, injury or other misfortune due to other people’s negligence, malpractice, intentional error or someone else’s act or failure to act, you might be entitled to compensation and correction. Of course, no amount of money can truly compensate for your injuries and suffering, but a fair settlement can cover medical expenses, lost wages or damage from emotional distress.
In legal sense, the term personal injury is very comprehensive and covers anything from construction, vehicle, boat, train, bur and slip / trip / fall accidents to medical malpractice, defective drugs and medical devices, toxic exposure and work injuries.
Compensation – Compensation in personal injury cases can cover a variety of expenses occurred due to the negligent action of the defendant (person or legal entity against which a personal injury case has been brought up). These expenses include loss of wages, damage to your property, pain and suffering, disability medical costs (including the future ones), loss of the enjoyment in life, and disfigurement. If the injury results in death, than the settlement should cover funeral costs, loss of financial support, medical costs prior to death, and even loss of companionship.
Majority of personal injury cases are settled before trial – Statistical data has shown that about 95% of personal injury cases are settled prior to trial through negotiations or through a mediation process. A pre-trial settlement can substantially reduce costs that the client would have to cover during litigation.
Statutes of Limitation – This is one of the most crucial elements of any lawsuit. In terms of personal injury cases, the general statutes of limitation in the State of New York is three years since the date of the personal injury. There are exceptions to this rule. For example, if you are filing a notice of claim that involves NY City authorities, than the statute of limitation is only 90 days. For wrongful death cases, this deadline is two years since the date of death while in the case of medical malpractice, the statue of limitations stands at two years and six months.
Collect evidence / Find witnesses – In order to increase the chances of winning your personal injury case and obtaining the best possible settlement, you will need to clearly establish and prove that the defendant has harmed you. Write down in detail the sequence of events that lead to the injury while taking all circumstances and details into account (time of the day, weather, presence of witnesses etc.). Photograph the scene of the accident and your injuries from different angles. Get medical treatment for your injury as soon as possible. Medical treatment should be provided only by a traditional MP (avoid chiropractors, homeopaths, alternative medical practitioners). Ask for copies of all relevant medical files. Look for witnesses who were nearby at the time of your accident. Write down their full name, address and telephone number and ask them if they would be willing to testify at a later stage.