Personal injury law, or tort law, is a complex system of legal concepts applying to cases where an individual suffers an injury due to someone else’s negligence or intent to cause harm. If someone hurt you and caused physical, emotional and financial loss, you may have a solid personal injury claim against them. First, consider signs of a personal injury claim and how an attorney can help you.
What Are Some Signs That You Have a Personal Injury Claim?
Personal injury claims can arise under many circumstances. Recognizing elements that constitute a valid claim ensures you receive adequate compensation for your losses. Key indicators include:
- Negligence or fault of another party. If your injury resulted from someone else’s negligence, such as a distracted driver or a property owner failing to maintain safe conditions, this could be grounds for a claim.
- Physical injury or illness. Evidence of physical harm, whether immediate or appearing over time, often forms the basis of a claim. Medical records can substantiate this.
- Incurred financial losses. If the injury leads to financial burdens like medical bills, lost wages or the need for rehabilitation, these costs may be recoverable through a claim.
- Impact on daily life. When an injury affects your ability to work, engage in usual activities or enjoy life as you did before, a personal injury claim is considerable.
- Existence of a duty of care. Suppose the person responsible for your accident owed you a duty of care and breached that duty, resulting in your injury and damages. In that case, you have a critical aspect of a personal injury claim.
Documenting everything related to your injury and consulting a legal professional can help determine if you have a viable personal injury claim. This step is vital in ensuring you receive the right amount of compensation and support needed for a full recovery.
Types of Accidents That Fall Under the Umbrella of Personal Injury
Personal injury law covers many accidents where people suffer harm because of someone else. These accidents can vary in nature and severity, but they all share the common element of resulting in physical or emotional injury. If you experienced any of the following, you may have a claim for compensation:
- Vehicle accidents. This category includes car, motorcycle, truck, bike and pedestrian accidents.
- Slip-and-fall incidents. These accidents happen due to unsafe conditions like wet floors, poorly maintained parking lots and dangerous staircases.
- Defective products. If you suffer bodily harm caused by a poorly designed, manufactured or distributed product, you may have a case of damages.
- Animal attacks and dog bites. Injuries sustained from an animal attack fall under personal injury when the dog belongs to another party.
- Assault and battery. Unlike other types, these injuries result from intentional acts of violence. However, you can pursue civil charges while the defendant faces criminal court.
Each type of personal injury case falls under state-mandated laws. Victims often seek legal assistance to navigate these sometimes complex and challenging cases to ensure they receive adequate compensation.
What Laws Apply to Personal Injury Cases?
The laws that govern personal injury cases depend on the type of claim. For example, auto accidents and dog bite cases have unique perspectives on liability. A basic understanding of these laws is essential, but hiring a personal injury attorney will ensure your case meets all the legal requirements.
Statute of Limitations
The statute of limitations refers to the time you have to file a lawsuit seeking damages from the at-fault party through civil court. For example, in South Carolina, you have three years from the date of the injury to file for most personal injury claims. If you miss the deadline, the court will likely dismiss your case without consideration. However, there are exceptions under specific circumstances.
If the person who suffered an injury was legally disabled at the time, meaning they were under 18 years old or declared insane, they have one year from the date they turn 18 or are declared sane to file a claim. If the defendant leaves the state for one year or more after the accident, the court will likely exclude the period of absence from the three-year deadline.
The modified comparative negligence rule is the most common legal doctrine used in cases involving shared fault. Under this rule, a party can recover damages only if their level of fault is below a specified threshold, commonly 50% or 51%. For instance, if the court finds you 40% at fault in an accident, you can still recover 60% of the resulting damages.
This differs from pure comparative negligence, where a plaintiff can recover damages regardless of their degree of fault, even if they are more responsible for the accident than the defendant. The modified rule sets a limit, emphasizing fair compensation while discouraging negligence.
Strict, Premises and Product Liability
Strict liability is a legal principle where a party is responsible for damages or injuries caused by their actions without the need to prove fault or intent. This doctrine applies mainly in cases involving dog bites. Pet owners are legally responsible for their animals’ actions regardless of attempts to stop the attack.
Premises liability revolves around injuries occurring on someone’s property due to unsafe conditions. Property owners must maintain a safe environment for lawful visitors. When they fail and someone suffers an injury, the owner can be legally liable for the resulting damages. This liability varies based on the visitor’s legal status, with different levels of care required for invitees, licensees and trespassers. The rule covers incidents like slip and falls, poor maintenance and lack of security.
Product liability concerns the responsibility of manufacturers, distributors or retailers for injuries from defective or unsafe products. This law ensures products meet safety and quality standards. When products have defects, lack proper instructions or do not have sufficient warnings, leading to injury, the responsible parties are liable. This area includes a wide range of products, from consumer goods to pharmaceuticals, emphasizing consumer safety in the marketplace.
What Does a Personal Injury Lawyer Do?
A personal injury lawyer can be instrumental in building a strong claim for damages. They investigate the incident to gather and analyze evidence, including medical records, accident reports, expert testimonies and eyewitness statements. They establish liability, allowing you to hold the at-fault party responsible for your losses.
Your attorney will evaluate the full extent of your injuries, considering immediate and long-term impacts, to assess the compensation required. This includes medical expenses, lost wages and pain and suffering. By negotiating with the insurance companies and opposing counsel, personal injury lawyers strive to achieve the best possible settlement. When a settlement is unlikely, they prepare your case for trial and advocate zealously on your behalf. Their legal expertise and strategic approach are critical in securing the appropriate compensation for the harm you suffered.
When Should You Contact a Personal Injury Attorney?
There is no time too soon after a devastating accident to contact a personal injury attorney at Jeff Coat Injury Injury Law. These incidents can have devastating physical, financial and emotional consequences for victims and their families. We commit to fighting for your right to compensation and ensuring you have everything you need to rebuild your life. Contact an experienced personal injury attorney at our firm to schedule your free consultation today.