For many people, injuries are a frustrating part of life. Most injuries are minor and, after suffering one, we quickly recover and go about our daily lives – if we’re lucky. But some injuries can upend our lives completely, leaving us to deal with the physical, mental and emotional setbacks that they leave behind.
When someone suffers a serious injury because of another person’s mistakes, they can take legal action to get compensation for the damages they have suffered. In the legal world, these cases are called personal injury claims.
Who Files a Personal Injury Claim?
A personal injury claim can be filed for many reasons. Some of the most common examples include a person who was injured by a careless driver or a person who slipped on another person’s property and suffered a serious injury as a result.
The thing that all personal injury claims have in common is that the victim’s injuries were suffered because someone else was acting irresponsibly, made a mistake or failed to take reasonable care over their property or actions. In other words, the person who was at fault for another’s injuries was negligent, and that negligence caused a serious injury.
Why File a Personal Injury Claim?
After suffering a serious injury, you can face many challenges, including pain, suffering, depression, anxiety and stress. Injuries can also be costly – medical bills, ongoing treatment for an injury or illness, loss of the ability to work due an injury, loss of income due to time off work or diminished work capacity. These costs can be financially devastating. Personal injury claims are a way for the victim to receive financial restitution for the harm they have been caused.
How Personal Injury Claims Work
If a person is injured and they believe that someone else’s negligence caused their injury, the victim (called the plaintiff) takes legal action by filing a lawsuit against the negligent party (called the defendant). Typically, the defendant retains the services of an attorney who is familiar with these types of cases. The defendant will state the costs of their injuries, including physical, mental, emotional and financial costs, and they will seek to have these costs (called damages) paid for by the defendant.
The defendant can contest the claim against them, in which case the two conflicting parties can either come to a financial compromise (a settlement) or take the matter to court. It will often be up to a jury to decide which side is in the right and how much is owed to the defendant should they win the case. Personal injury claims can be settled quickly or can result in a drawn-out legal fight that takes a long time to resolve.
Cases Closely Related to Personal Injury Claims
There are many paths a person can take if they believe their injury was caused by another’s negligence. Depending the situation, these cases might be called something other than personal injury claims, even though the process is essentially the same. These variations include:
- Medical malpractice claims – A person takes legal action against a healthcare professional who was negligent in the care they provided.
- Workplace compensation disputes – A worker can take legal action against an employer or an insurer who doesn’t pay a fair amount for an injury suffered on the job.
- Product liability claims – A person takes legal action against the manufacturer of a device, medicine or any other product that caused them harm.
- Wrongful death claims – The survivors of a fatally-injured victim take legal action against the negligent party.
A Statute of Limitations – the Time Limit for a Claim
Personal injury claims, along with all the other claims listed above, must be filed within a certain window of time after the injury was suffered. This time limit is called a statute of limitations, and it varies from state to state. For example, the statute of limitations for a personal injury case in New Jersey is two years, while in neighboring New York, the statute of limitations for a personal injury case is three years.
Hopefully, you will never suffer a serious injury because of another’s negligence, but if you do, there are options to consider to help recover damages for yourself or your loved ones.
The Law Offices of James C. DeZao is a personal injury law firm in New Jersey. We help people who have been injured due to the carelessness or negligence of others.