Personal Injury Claims: An Overview

Personal injury claims can be made by a person who is injured in an accident (the Plaintiff), who then files a lawsuit against the party they believe to be responsible for causing their injury (the Defendant). Personal injury claims may allow an injured person to recover compensation for the injuries and damages they have suffered.

Although there are many types of personal injury claims, a successful claim requires the Plaintiff to demonstrate evidence of negligence on the part of the Defendant. If you've been injured in an accident, we recommend you contact an experienced personal injury attorney to review your legal options and possibly receive financial compensation for the medical bills, pain and suffering and lost wages you may be facing.

Types of Personal Injury Claims

Broadly speaking, a personal injury claim arises when one person is injured in an accident that somebody else caused, either through their actions or lack thereof. Here are some of the most common kinds of personal injury cases:

  • Car, Truck and Motorcycle Accidents: Motorists have a legal responsibility to operate their vehicle safely. Drivers who get injured in a motor vehicle accident may file a personal injury lawsuit against an at-fault driver. This is the most common personal injury claim.
  • Construction Accidents: Construction work is dangerous and there are many opportunities for accidents if employers do not take safety seriously. Because of the amount of hazards on a construction site, there are many potential types of construction accidents.
  • Slip, Trip and Fall Accidents: These accidents are common in public places such as a grocery store, shopping mall, apartment building or even at your office. To win compensation for a slip and fall accident, it will need to be proved that the Defendant knew or should have known about the defect that caused you to fall and be injured.
  • Product Liability Lawsuits: If you were injured because of a defective product, such as the brakes of your vehicle or a handheld electric saw, it may be possible to file a personal injury lawsuit against the manufacturer of the defective product.
  • Wrongful Death: When the worst happens, and somebody is killed in an accident, the loved ones who survive the victim may be facing bills and loss of financial support. In certain conditions, the survivors of a deceased person may file a lawsuit to receive compensation with the assistance of a wrongful death lawyer.

There are many possible ways that another party's negligence could cause you to be injured. But how do you know if the injury you suffered qualifies for a personal injury lawsuit?

The Legal Standard for a Personal Injury Claim

For an injured party to receive money in a personal injury claim, there are certain legal conditions that must be met. In many cases, these issues are not immediately clear and require interviews with witnesses and involved parties to sort through. In some cases, a reconstruction of the accident scene may be necessary.

These legal conditions are required for a successful personal injury lawsuit:

  • The Defendant had some sort of duty of care to the Plaintiff
  • The Defendant failed to uphold their duty to respect the Plaintiff's safety
  • A direct causation between the Defendant's failure of duty and the Plaintiff's injuries
  • Losses or damages that the Defendant's negligence caused the Plaintiff

To sort out these complex legal questions, we highly recommend you contact an experienced attorney who can provide you with sound legal guidance.

Damages in a Personal Injury Claim

There are two types of damages you can potentially be compensated for in a personal injury lawsuit: economic damages (such as medical bills) and non-economic bills (such as pain and suffering). Economic damages in a personal injury claim include:

  • Medical expenses, including surgeries, doctor visits, physical therapy, occupation rehabilitation and any required medical devices.
  • Lost wages, both in the past (when you are forced to miss work to recover for your injuries) and in the future (if your ability to earn a wage has been impacted due to physical limitations your injuries have caused).
  • Property damage, especially in the wake of a car crash or other motor vehicle accident. Remember to never admit fault or accept money from an insurance company before you have spoken with an attorney.

Depending on the facts, economic damages can be straightforward or quite complicated to calculate. Often economic experts are required to arrive at an accurate accounting of these damages. Here are non-economic damages that a Plaintiff may receive in a personal injury lawsuit:

  • Pain and suffering, which may be impacted by the amount of medicine you are prescribed, or the length of time that physical or occupational therapy is necessary for you to recover from your injuries.
  • Emotional distress, which is closely related to pain and suffering and is generally reserved for severe injuries that prohibit the injured party from engaging in all of the activities that they once enjoyed.
  • Loss of consortium, which broadly refers to a permanent change in the relationship between loved ones (such as a spouse or a parent to their child) caused by a severe injury or disability.

Damages in a personal injury claim are the way that a Plaintiff is compensated for the injuries a Defendant caused them. If another party's negligence has caused you to be injured in an accident, there may be compensation available to you in the form of a personal injury claim.

What to Do If You've Been Injured

In the wake of an accident that leaves you seriously injured, it can be difficult to know what steps to take next. No matter what type of accident you've been in, remember that your health always comes first.

First, get yourself to a safe place. If you've been in a car accident, call police. If possible, stay in your car until police arrive to keep safe from oncoming traffic. If the accident occurred at work or in a public place, remove yourself from danger and alert a supervisor or passerby.

No matter where or how your accident occurred, always try to get an official statement in writing about how it happened, such as a police report. This will prevent somebody from changing their story and trying to blame your for causing the accident later on.

If possible, try to get a picture of the accident scene. If in a car accident, take a picture of the damage to both vehicles once it's safe to do so. For a slip and fall, a picture of the floor can be worth a thousand words. If you were in a work accident, definitive proof of the conditions that led to the accident can refute an employer who tries to blame the accident on you.

All of those steps will depend, of course, on how severe your injury is and how urgently you require medical attention. Remember that some injuries may not be immediately obvious. Don't try to 'tough out' an injury just because you don't want to make your employer uncomfortable. When it comes to your health, it's better to be safe than sorry.

Once you've received the medical treatment you require, we recommend you contact an experienced personal injury attorney to review your legal options. If you are interested in pursing a personal injury claim, you want to act as soon as possible, as unnecessary delays can hurt your chances of recovering compensation later.

Filing a Personal Injury Claim

Nobody wants to go to court, but sometimes it is necessary. If you or someone you love has been seriously injured or killed in an accident that somebody else caused, you may be able to receive compensation for the injuries you suffered and the bills you are stuck with.

The attorneys of Block O'Toole & Murphy have won more personal injury results exceeding $1,000,000 than any other law firm in New York every year since 2012. Call 212-736-5300 or fill out our contact form to receive a free, no-obligation legal consultation.

We are proud to serve all of New York and New Jersey.