Frequently Asked Questions About Personal Injury Cases
Posted on behalf of Lynch Law Firm on Jun 07, 2017 in Personal Injury News
Suffering from an injury after an accident or because of another’s negligent actions can be stressful and difficult. You likely have several questions about how to get the justice and compensation you deserve.
The Hasbrouck Heights injury attorneys at Lynch Law Firm have provided answers to some of the most common questions people have after such an incident. We have decades of experience handling a variety of personal injury cases and can answer any questions you may have about your claim. To learn more, do not hesitate to contact us today.
What is a Personal Injury Lawsuit?
Many injury victims are often unsure about what their legal options are for obtaining justice and compensation. There are two types of claims that it is important to know the difference between:
Filing a claim with your insurance company is very different than filing a lawsuit. This is often the first step in many personal injury cases, especially auto accidents.
An insurance claim is an informal process of submitting information to your insurer or the at-fault party’s insurer. It allows you to recover reasonable expenses for medical bills and other injury-related expenses up to the policy limit.
In some cases, the insurer may refuse to cover your claim because it thinks its client is not responsible for your injuries or that your injuries are not as severe as you say. If you have trouble obtaining the compensation you deserve or if your claim is denied entirely, it may be appropriate to file a personal injury lawsuit.
Personal injury lawsuits are legal actions taken in civil court against an at-fault individual, business, insurer or government entity.
Through a personal injury lawsuit, victims can seek compensation for medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more.
It is possible for your case to be settled outside of court or you may go to trial where the details of your case will be told to a jury who will decide your case and compensation award.
What is Negligence?
Negligence is a critical element in all personal injury cases. Negligence occurs when an individual does not exercise the proper caution or care that a reasonable person would to protect others from harm or injury.
To prove that negligence occurred, you will have to show that:
- The at-fault party owed you a duty of care – This means that the at-fault party had a legal obligation to act with reasonable care and not cause you harm.
- The at-fault party breached its duty of care – If the at-fault party acted negligently, carelessly or intentionally in a way that others would not have in the same situation, he or she has likely breached his or her duty of care.
- That breach caused you harm – It must be clear that your injuries were directly caused by the other person’s actions.
- You suffered damages – You can only recover compensation from a lawsuit if you suffered damages as a result of your injuries. This can include medical bills, lost wages, or pain and suffering.
While it is vital that you can show that the at-fault party’s actions caused your injuries, the court will also consider if your actions contributed to your injury.
In New Jersey, several parties, including the victim, may be held liable for an injury, according to New Jersey Statutes Annotated 2A:15-5.1.
This is known as comparative fault. Each party is assigned a percentage of fault for causing the injury, which will determine the compensation that can be awarded in the case.
Per N.J.S.A. 2A:15-5.3, victims may recover full damages from parties who are at least 60 percent at fault for the injury. If a party is found to be less than 60 percent at fault, the victim is only able to recover an amount proportionate with that person’s fault.
If the victim is found to be at fault, his or her award will be reduced proportionally by the percentage of fault he or she had in causing his or her injuries. For example, a victim who is 20 percent at fault for his or her injuries will only be able to recover $80,000 of a $100,000 award.
Do I Have a Case?
To determine if you have a valid personal injury case, ask yourself the following questions:
- Did someone else cause my injuries? In order to bring a personal injury lawsuit, you must be able to identify the party or entity responsible for your injuries.
- Can I prove the other party or entity caused my injuries? A New Jersey personal injury lawyer can assist you in evaluating if there is evidence to support your case and if you have legal grounds to pursue a lawsuit.
- Did I suffer quantifiable losses? To have a valid personal injury case, you must have suffered compensable damages directly resulting from the at-fault party’s negligence. Such losses include medical expenses, lost wages, property damage, pain and suffering, or permanent injury.
How Long Do I Have to File a Case?
New Jersey has strict statutes of limitations that detail the amount of time you have to file a personal injury lawsuit.
You must file your case with the court within two years of the date of the accident or you will lose your opportunity to file a claim and obtain compensation. This same time limit also applies to cases involving wrongful death, product liability, slip and falls, and medical malpractice.
The statute of limitations typically begins on the date of injury. However, in some situations, an injury may not be immediately noticed or it may not be clear that it was caused by negligence. In such cases, the discovery rule applies.
The discovery rule extends the statute of limitations if the victim does not discover the injury, while exercising reasonable care, until a later date. In such a case, the statute of limitations starts once the injury is discovered or should have been discovered through reasonable care.
How Much is My Case Worth?
You will need a New Jersey personal injury lawyer to help you determine the value of your personal injury case, as every case is unique.
However, there are several important details about your accident and injuries that will be considered to determine the compensation you should receive, including:
- The severity of your injuries
- The amount of medical care you received
- If you followed your doctors’ orders
- The severity of the accident
- If you were partially at fault for your injuries
- How your injuries affect your life
- If you are able to continue working
- If you will require future medical care
Typically, individuals with more severe injuries will be awarded more compensation because of the medical bills and other damages associated with their injuries.
Depending on the circumstances of your accident and injuries, you may be able to obtain compensation for:
- Past and future medical bills
- Prescription medication
- Labs tests and imaging
- Visits with specialists
- Long-term care
- Past and future lost wages
- Property damage
- Physical pain and suffering
- Mental and emotional anguish
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Funeral and burial expenses
Punitive damages are also awarded in rare situations in which the at-fault party acted maliciously or with extreme recklessness.
Do I Need a Personal Injury Lawyer?
Although every case does not require the assistance of a personal injury attorney, it is generally in your best interest to hire a lawyer, especially if you suffered severe injuries or the death of a loved one.
Our New Jersey personal injury lawyers always have your best interests in mind and will do everything possible to help ensure your rights are protected throughout the process. Our team will:
- Investigate the details of your accident and injuries
- Gather the evidence necessary to support your claim
- Consult industry experts to build your case
- Guide you through every step of the processes
- Work directly with the insurance company on your behalf
- Fight for the maximum compensation you deserve
How Much Will a Lawyer Cost?
The Lynch Law Firm accepts personal injury cases on contingency only. This means we only charge legal fees if we are able to recover a settlement or compensation award for you.
If we recover compensation for you, we will only charge a percentage of your recovery. If we do not recover compensation for you, you will owe us nothing.
Consult with our skilled legal team today. There is no charge for your initial consultation and no obligation to move forward.
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Lynch Law Firm
Hasbrouck Heights, NJ 07604