Personal injury laws cover a wide variety of claims for injuries and damages. Most personal injury cases involve injuries caused by negligence, intentional wrongdoing, or recklessness. Victims sustain physical injuries, economic losses, and other damages because of another party’s actions or omissions.
It is common to have questions about personal injury cases, especially if you have never had to file an accident claim or injury claim. This article discusses many of those questions and things that you should know about personal injury cases.
If you or a family member has been injured, the information below may answer many of your questions about personal injury cases:
When Should I Report an Accident or Injury?
As soon as possible, report the accident or injury to the appropriate authorities, individuals, or entities. For car accidents and other types of accidents, call 911 to report the crash and request help. Sexual assault should be reported to the police as soon as possible.
Accidents or injuries that occur on another party’s property should be reported to the property owner immediately. If the owner is not on-site, report the injury to a manager or other person in charge.
Workplace injuries need to be reported to employers immediately. Employees must follow the guidelines set forth by their employer and the workers’ compensation laws regarding on-the-job injuries.
Other injuries may not be reported immediately to the at-fault party, such as injuries related to defective products.
Keep in mind that injuries or accidents involving government entities have very short deadlines for filing notices of claims. If your injury involves a government entity, immediately contacting an attorney is generally in your best interest.
What is the Statute of Limitations for Accidents in Kentucky?
Kentucky’s Statute of Limitations restricts the time you have to file a claim. In many cases, accident victims have one year to file a lawsuit. Car accident victims have two years from the date of the crash or the last PIP payment.
Failing to file the lawsuit before the deadline bars you from pursuing your claim for damages in court.
The deadlines for filing a lawsuit can be shorter or longer, depending on the facts of your case. Consulting an attorney as soon as possible can protect your legal right to pursue a claim for damages.
Can I Be Compensated for Economic Damages?
Most accident victims can recover compensation for their economic damages. Economic damages are the financial losses and expenses related to your accident, injuries, and recovery.
Examples of economic damages include, but are not limited to:
- Loss of income, including lost wages, benefits, bonuses, salaries, and commissions
- Decreases in earning potential caused by permanent impairments
- Medical expenses and cost of treatment
- Personal care and in-home health care
- Physical, occupational, vocational, and other types of therapy
- Travel costs to and from medical appointments
- Other out-of-pocket expenses
The value of your financial damages generally equals the actual out-of-pocket costs and amounts billed for services. Future damages can be more difficult to estimate and may require hiring a financial expert and medical expert.
What Are Non-Economic Damages?
Non-economic damages are the “pain and suffering” you experience because of the accident and injury.
Pain and suffering damages include:
- Physical pain and discomfort
- Emotional distress
- Mental trauma and anguish
- Scarring and disfigurement
- Disabilities and permanent impairments
- Loss of quality of or enjoyment of life
Calculating pain and suffering damages is challenging. It is impossible to put a price tag on someone’s suffering and pain.
Insurance companies downplay these damages. Your attorney understands how to use the evidence in your case to maximize the value of pain and suffering damages.
What is Comparative Negligence and How Could Kentucky’s Law Affect My Case?
If you contributed to the cause of your accident, you could still receive some compensation for your injuries. Under Kentucky’s comparative negligence laws, your compensation is reduced by the same percentage of fault assigned to you for the cause of the accident.
Insurance companies use comparative negligence allegations to undervalue or deny valid injury claims. If the other party or an insurance company tries to shift blame for your injury or the accident to you, contact a lawyer immediately to discuss your case.
How Do You Prove Liability in a Personal Injury Case?
Before you can recover any money for your injury claim, you must prove that the other party is liable. Most personal injury cases involve proving negligence.
The legal elements of negligence are:
- The party owed a duty of care to you
- There was a breach of that duty of care
- The breach caused the accident or incident
- You were injured and sustained damages because of the accident or incident
Cases may require that you prove that the person did not meet the acceptable standard of care to prove negligence, as in medical malpractice case. Other cases might require that you prove the person knew or should have known about a danger or hazard, such as cases involving premises liability.
There may also be cases involving strict liability, as in some product liability cases. Determining the legal elements to prove a negligence claim can be complicated. Hiring an attorney that handles cases similar to your case can be beneficial.
Should I Accept a Settlement Offer From the Insurance Company?
Insurance companies actively try to limit their liability for claims. They are in business to make profits, not pay claims. Therefore, the offer from an insurance company is generally below the value of the claim.
Claims adjusters may also use a variety of tactics to obtain information the company can use against you. It is not in your best interest to provide written or recorded statements or answer questions for the insurance company before talking to an injury lawyer.
Once you settle your claim with the insurance provider, your claim is resolved. The insurance company’s settlement agreement requires you to sign releases the company and all other parties from all claims and future liability for your claim. Even if you discover additional damages, you cannot demand more money once you release the parties by signing a settlement agreement.
What Happens When I am Injured on the Job?
Generally, employees injured on the job are covered by workers’ compensation insurance. Workers’ comp is a no-fault system. Workers receive medical treatment and other benefits if they are injured in the ordinary course of their job.
In most cases, workers cannot sue employers for work-related injuries. They are limited to the benefits provided by workers’ compensation insurance.
However, in some cases, a worker might have a third party claim against the party who caused the injury. For instance, a worker may have a claim against a manufacturer if a defective product caused the injury. If the worker is injured in a car crash, the worker might have a claim against the driver who caused the accident.
Is Medical Treatment Really Necessary After an Accident?
Regardless of how you were injured or the severity of your injuries, prompt medical treatment is necessary. You need to document your injuries as soon as possible, including all symptoms you might experience after an accident or injury.
Delays in medical care give the insurance company a reason to fight your claim. The company may allege that the accident did not cause your injury, and you only sought medical treatment later to recover money for an injury claim.
What is a Contingency Fee Agreement?
Personal injury attorneys often accept cases on a contingency fee basis. They do not require you to pay any attorneys’ fees when you retain their law firm.
Instead, the attorneys’ fees are deducted from the settlement proceeds. If the lawyer does not recover money for your claim, you do not owe the lawyer any attorneys’ fees.
Contact Our Lexington Personal Injury Lawyer for More Information
If you have questions about a personal injury claim, contact our office to schedule a free initial consultation with one of our Kentucky personal injury attorneys. Get the answers to your questions and learn about your legal rights during a no-obligation, free case review.