The United States has a well-earned, and some may even say, well-deserved reputation as a litigious society. After all, millions of lawsuits are filed across the country each year. When most people hear about lawsuits, personal injury cases probably come to mind. That is hardly a surprise, considering that personal injury lawsuits are one of the most — if not the most — common types of civil litigation in the United States. The most common types of personal injury lawsuits are those stemming from car accidents, medical malpractice, wrongful death, and workplace accidents. People hurt in slip and fall accidents, or by defective products, also file personal injury lawsuits.
If you’ve been injured due to someone else’s negligence, set up a FREE consultation today.
If you lost a loved one, or were injured in any of these circumstances through no fault of your own, the personal injury attorneys here at Moshes Law P.C., are here to help. All you have to do is contact us to learn how.
In the meantime, here’s everything you need to know about personal injury cases.
Basically, a personal injury case is a legal matter where an injured person seeks compensation from the person who caused the accident. Depending on the situation, the injured party may seek compensation for physical, financial and/or emotional losses. These losses are called “damages.”
The injured person obtains reparations in one of several ways.
First, let’s assume there is no disagreement about what happened or who was at fault. In this situation, the liable party’s insurance company simply compensates the injured party for relevant damages.
But what if there is a dispute over the incident? If there is any question about what happened or who was at fault, the other party’s insurance company may refuse to pay. Or the injured party may not be satisfied with the compensation the insurance company offers. In either scenario, he or she may contact a New York personal injury attorney. When warranted, the attorney will agree to represent him or her in a personal injury lawsuit.
From this point on, there are two objectives. The first is to prove that the other person was legally responsible, or liable for the accident in question. The second is to secure a judgment for just compensation from that party.
However, there is a catch. Even while they are preparing to go to trial, attorneys for both sides usually try to negotiate a settlement. Most cases are usually resolved at this stage, but if negotiations do fail, all is not lost. The matter may still be resolved prior to trial, if the parties agree to mediation, or other means of alternative dispute resolution (ADR).
If the matter is not finalized through negotiations or ADR, it will go to trial.
In a legal context, personal injury is an umbrella term used for any case in which someone’s carelessness leads to an accident where someone else gets hurt. Here are some of the most widespread types of personal injury cases.
Feeling overwhelmed after being hurt in an accident where someone else was at fault is perfectly understandable. Depending on the extent of your injuries, you may have been through a prolonged hospital stay, one or more surgeries, and multiple visits to the doctor. You may also be facing lengthy rehabilitation. All of this is extremely stressful for you and your loved ones, especially if you are unable to work because of your injuries.
Perhaps you have been thinking about suing the person who caused the accident, but you do not know here to start. Creating a personal injury checklist may help.
Begin by contacting the dedicated New York personal injury attorneys at Moshes Law P.C. By calling us as soon as possible, you will likely have an immediate sense of relief. That’s because we make it clear that you are more than a prospective client to us. You are an individual with unique experiences and concerns. We treat you as such from day one.
With us on your side, you are more likely to get a favorable outcome in your personal injury case, and less likely to be exploited by the other party’s insurance company. This is because we deal with the insurance company for you. We also provide all of the legal guidance, representation and advocacy you need to make informed decisions about your case throughout the process.
Your initial consultation is essentially an evaluation of your situation. We will ask detailed questions based on the information on your intake form, and any other information provided. Once we have completed our review, we will let you know whether you have a viable case. If so, we will discuss the stages of a personal injury case, and give you a rough timeline for resolution of the matter.
If we agree to represent you, we will need your assistance to build a winning case. You can help us do that by:
This information serves as valuable evidence that the other party was careless, and that this behavior directly caused or contributed to the accident in which you were hurt.
As we have already mentioned, settlement negotiations are an integral part of a personal injury case. These talks are usually conducted as we start building your case, but before the pre-trial stage. The goal is to get an acceptable offer for compensation based on your case value and other factors. Because there is often disagreement about what constitutes a fair, or acceptable settlement, this is often a lengthy process. Even so, most personal injury cases are resolved at this stage, saving the time, expense and effort associated with litigation.
Settlement talks don’t always yield positive results. If we reach an impasse over the facts of the case or there are outstanding legal questions, we can discuss proceeding to trial. With your permission, we will begin by filing a lawsuit, if we haven’t already done so. This is the point at which we file a summons and complaint detailing our case in the appropriate court. The other party also gets copies, and a certain amount of time to respond.
Depending on the situation, settlement negotiations may resume at this point. You may also have the opportunity to try to resolve the matter through mediation, arbitration, or some other form of ADR. Either way, we will also continue to prepare your case for trial.
Most of the pre-trial process is devoted to fact-finding or “discovery.” At this stage, the injured party (plaintiff) and defendant exchange relevant information as permitted by law. This includes the documents each side has to substantiate its arguments. It also includes information obtained through legal processes called interrogatories and depositions.
Interrogatories are sets of written questions that the litigants and/or witnesses must answer. Depositions are oral questions posed by the opposing party that the litigants and/or witnesses must answer during a formal interview or hearing.
So what happens after a deposition in a personal injury case? It is still possible to continue, resume or initiate settlement negotiations at this point, but if they fail to resolve the matter it will go to trial.
In a personal injury trial, attorneys for the plaintiff and defendant present evidence to support and refute the legal arguments in the case. You, the defendant, and witnesses – including eye witnesses and expert witnesses — may also be called to testify. A judge or jury will then determine the outcome based on all of the material presented. Ideally, the judge or jury will agree that the defendant was negligent, and that his or her negligence caused or contributed to your injuries. If so, the judge or jury will also issue a judgment awarding compensation for your injuries.
All of this begs an important question. If you aren’t happy with your legal representation, can you change lawyers in the middle of a personal injury case? The answer to this question is, “yes.” However, it isn’t necessarily easy, or inexpensive.
With that in mind, experts recommend that you try to resolve any disputes, disagreements, or misunderstandings with your current lawyer before getting another one. If that fails, experts also recommend seeking some insight from other personal injury lawyers. Most importantly, review the retainer agreement you signed when you hired your current attorney. Once you are sure that you aren’t in violation by terminating his or her services, send a formal letter notifying him or her of your decision. Just be sure you’ve got someone lined up to take over, first.
One last thing to keep in mind is that you are responsible for compensating your current attorney for any expenses paid out of his or her cash reserves. Depending on where you are in your personal injury case, this could be a significant amount.
In New York State, Worker’s Compensation is a type of no-fault insurance carried by most but not all businesses. It is used to cover expenses and other losses associated with workplace injuries. Specifically, it provides various financial and medical benefits for work-related injuries and illnesses.
However, there are a few things to keep in mind. First, if you file a worker’s compensation claim you may be precluded from suing your employer. Secondly, you cannot request compensation for the same damages, or losses as you can in a personal injury lawsuit. And finally, there are different legal processes.
In a personal injury case, you can sue the person liable for your injuries for economic and non economic losses. These typically include expenses incurred due to immediate and ongoing medical costs; lost income due to the inability to work; pain and suffering; emotional distress; and loss of enjoyment of life.
A successful Worker’s Compensation insurance claim will also cover the cost of “all reasonable and necessary medical treatment related to a work injury” but only if it is from an authorized healthcare provider. Worker’s Compensation also provides various disability benefits, benefits that facilitate an injured worker’s return to work. It does not cover non-economic losses, such as pain and suffering.
As we have noted, you can pursue any type of viable personal injury case by filing a civil lawsuit in the appropriate court. The case then wends its way through the legal process, as detailed above. You may have this means of legal recourse if someone other than your employer is liable for your injuries. However, filing a successful Worker’s Comp claim generally (but not always) precludes you from suing your employer.
To receive Workers Compensation benefits, you must notify your employer about the accident and file a Worker’s Comp claim. The claim is submitted to the New York State Workers Compensation Board, which then decides which benefits to award (if any).
Your decision to file a Worker’s Compensation claim or file a personal injury lawsuit after a workplace accident depends on a few factors. If you file a Worker’s Compensation claim, you do not have to prove fault. Theoretically, this makes the process easier than filing a personal injury lawsuit. However, you may not be able to obtain reparations for all of your losses or damages.
There are limited scenarios in which you may be able to sue your employer. But if you choose this option, your attorney must prove that your employer was at fault in the accident. In theory, this makes a personal injury lawsuit a trickier, and lengthier option.
Our Worker’s Compensation attorneys can help you decide which option is best for you and your case.
Here’s one last important question that most clients in personal injury cases ask. How much is my personal injury case worth? Unfortunately, the answer is seldom straight forward. It all depends on how badly you were hurt and the facts of the case. However, we can do a rough calculation once we tally all of your economic losses. Once we’ve done that, multiply the total by specific multipliers based on the severity of your injuries to get an approximate value.
Over the years, some personal injury cases have gained more notoriety than others. Here are some examples of famous personal injury cases in New York.
In New York City, a woman once sued the city after a failed suicide attempt. As the story goes, she laid down on the subway tracks so a train would hit and kill her. It didn’t. She got hurt instead. When the case went to court, the Supreme Court awarded her more than $14 million.
Then, in the so-called “doorknob case,” a New York City claims examiner allegedly injured his thumb while exiting a bathroom. Because the door didn’t have a doorknob, the victim had to push the door open. As he did, someone else was trying to get into the stall. The victim claimed his thumb was so badly injured he had to have surgery and couldn’t work for six months. Ultimately he received a $3 million jury award. His wife reportedly also received a $750,000 award.
At Moshes Law P.C., our statistics are impressive, but winning personal injury cases is more than just a numbers game. In fact, we care less about the personal injury cases won than we do about the people we’ve helped. That’s because we treat each and every one of our clients as an individual with their own unique needs.
If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident caused by someone else’s careless or deliberate actions,we will bring this philosophy to your case as well. To get started, contact us to learn more about how we can help you today.