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Personal Injury Overview and Information
First, be aware that rigid time deadlines exist in which to sue or make claims for different types of actions. The failure to act timely to protect yourself can become a complete barrier to your right to recover.
The following is a general statement about some deadlines for some types of cases:
- Motor Vehicle Accident: 1 year
- Slip and Fall: 1 year
- Product Liability: 1 year
- Offshore, maritime 1 to 3 years
(WARNING: THESE ARE GENERAL STATEMENTS OF LIMITATIONS. THERE ARE MANY EXCEPTIONS AND YOU SHOULD CONSULT A TRUSTED, REPUTABLE PERSONAL INJURY LAWYER CONCERNING YOUR PARTICULAR CLAIM AND THE APPLICABLE STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS AND ANY AVAILABLE EXCEPTIONS.)
IF INJURED BY SOMEONE ELSE'S FAULT, WHAT ARE YOU ENTITLED TO?
If you are injured through no fault of your own but by someone else's negligence, the law entitles you to recover various types of damages:
Pain And Suffering: One of the most "valuable" elements of your bodily injury claim is the right to compensation for physical pain and mental anguish you have suffered and will endure in the future because of your injury. These general damages are in addition to and may be more than the amount of your lost earnings and medical expenses.
Medical Expenses: The cost of all reasonable and necessary medical expenses incurred and that are reasonably certain to be incurred in the future because of your injury are recoverable. These expenses include past (already-incurred) medical expenses and future medical expenses, which may be the product of the original injury or that result from an increased susceptibility to future injury. All forms of care and treatment, whether hospital, medical, chiropractic, therapy, nursing, diagnostic testing, surgery, physical rehabilitation or pain management are included. You can recover the full value of your medical expenses from the responsible party even if your health insurer has paid all or part of your bills. The health insurer, however, may have the right to be partially or fully reimbursed.
Loss of Earnings: You are also entitled to recover the loss of earnings suffered from your injuries. Thus, wages, commissions, bonuses and all other earnings and fringe benefits are recoverable.
Future Loss Of Earnings: If your injuries permanently limit your ability to earn, you can recover the value of the reduction in your earning capacity. Under our law, a person who has been injured by the fault of another is entitled to recover not only his or her actual lost wages but separately and additionally for his or her loss of earning capacity. The award for loss of future earning capacity does not require an actual loss of earnings. It may be based on loss of earning capacity which is the person's ability or potential to make money even if the injured person has never taken advantage of that capacity.
What a person earned before and after the injury does not constitute the measure. Even if a person is unemployed at the time of the injury, or may never have seen fit to take advantage of that capacity, that person is still entitled to an award for impairment or diminution of earning power. The theory is that the injury has deprived him of a capacity he would have been entitled to enjoy even though he never profited from it monetarily. Damages should be based on the injured person's ability to earn money rather than on what he actually earned before the injury. This damage award is predicated upon the difference between a person's earning capacity before the injury and that person's capacity after the injury. The fact that a person is not totally disabled is no bar to his claim for diminution in earning capacity. These damages compensate you for your lost earning power over the remainder of your working years.
Death: Damages for "wrongful death" are available for the wife, husband, parent and child of the deceased person. Sometimes, persons related by blood or marriage, who were dependent upon the deceased, may recover. Damages are not always limited to economic loss and may include damages for mental anguish, emotional pain and suffering, loss of society, companionship, comfort, protection, marital care, parental care, filial care, attention, advice, counsel, training, guidance or education. Damages are available for the deceased's estate as well.
Disfigurement: If the injury causes scarring or other unsightly marks, you are entitled to recover for the disfigurement and humiliation or embarrassment associated with the disfigurement.
Damage To The Marital Relationship: Serious injuries to one spouse may cause damage to the marital relationship. If this occurs, you are entitled to recover for the loss of society, affection, assistance, conjugal fellowship and loss or impairment of sexual relations that occurs.
Damage To Your Vehicle Or Other Personal Property: You are entitled to be made whole for any damage to your personal property. Where your vehicle can be repaired, you are entitled to recover the reasonable cost of restoring the vehicle to its condition before the collision. In addition, you may recover the cost of substitute transportation necessarily incurred while the shop is repairing your vehicle. If the cost of repair is more than the value of your vehicle (a "total loss"), you are entitled to recover the full value of your vehicle before it was damaged. You may also be entitled to damages for diminution in value of your vehicle because it has been wrecked.
(Warning: CHANGES IN THE LAW CONCERNING DAMAGES OCCUR FREQUENTLY. YOU SHOULD CONSULT WITH A RESPECTED PERSONAL INJURY ATTORNEY WITH RESPECT TO THESE CHANGES.)