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Personal Injury FAQs

personal-injury-faqs-imageWhat is personal injury?
What is negligence?
Is there any other basis for personal injury liability besides negligence?
How soon after I am injured should I file a lawsuit?
Do I have a personal injury case?
What are actual damages?
What are punitive damages?
Will I be able to recover compensation if I was partly at fault?
What is my personal injury lawsuit worth?
Should I deal directly with the insurance company?

What is personal injury?

The term “personal injury” is a broad one that encompasses any kind of accident or occurrence that leads to an injury of the body or mind. It is also an area of law designed to protect and compensate those harmed by the negligence, recklessness, malpractice or inaction of others. Examples include:

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What is negligence?

We all have an obligation to be careful in our actions to avoid harming ourselves and those around us. When a person’s carelessness causes injury to another, they are said to have been negligent. Simply put, negligence under the law is the failure to use the reasonable care that other reasonable people would use under the same circumstances. In order to be successful in a negligence claim, an injured person must prove that he was owed a legal duty by the person who caused the harm (the defendant) and that the defendant’s breach of the duty caused the injury. If the injury would not have occurred without the breach of that duty, then the defendant is liable for the damage caused by the breach. The person who was injured must also prove the amount of his or her damages.

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Is there any other basis for personal injury liability besides negligence?

Yes. Some individuals or companies may be held “strictly liable” for certain activities that harm others, even if they did not act negligently or maliciously. For example, a person injured by a defective product can recover compensation from the manufacturer or seller of the product without showing that the manufacturer or seller was actually negligent. In limited instances, civil personal injury lawsuits can be pursued in addition to criminal charges under the principle of an intentional wrong, also known as an “intentional tort.” An experienced personal injury lawyer should be consulted to determine which theory of liability applies to the facts of a particular case.

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How soon after I am injured should I file a lawsuit?

If you have been a victim of a personal injuryaccident, you have a limited amount of time in which to file a claim. This time period, known as a statute of limitations, varies from claim to claim and from state to state. All jurisdictions allow victims at least one year from the date of injury or the date the personal injury was discovered to file a lawsuit. In Rhode Island, the statute of limitations is typically three years for a negligence action. If you miss the deadline for filing your case, you may lose your legal right to damages for your injury. Consequently, it is important to talk with a lawyeras soon as you suffer or discover an injury.

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Do I have a personal injury case?

Every personal injury case must address two crucial elements: liability and damages. Liability answers the question of whether the defendant engaged in any wrongful conduct. Damages are a determination of how much money should be paid because of the wrongful conduct. If you can demonstrate that the defendant bears legal responsibility for your personal injury and that the damages claimed reflect the extent of the injury or loss, you may have a personal injury case.

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What are actual damages?

Damages that cover all financial expenses and all ailments associated with the personal injury are known as actual or compensatory damages. Actual damages refers to the amount of money it would take to fully compensate you and place you in the same position you would have been in had the injury never happened. This includes:

  • Earning capacity impairment.
  • Emotional distress.
  • Loss of profits.
  • Lost wages.
  • Medical bills.
  • Mental impairment.
  • Pain and suffering.
  • Permanent disability.
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What are punitive damages?

Punitive damages are awarded to a plaintiff in a personal injury lawsuit when the defendant’s conduct has been especially reckless or egregious. Punitive damages are awarded separately and in addition to compensatory damages. They are intended as a punishment for the defendant and a deterrent to others who might engage in similar actions.

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Will I be able to recover compensation if I was partly at fault?

Yes. Rhode Island follows a pure comparative negligence system. Under this system, a percentage of fault is assigned to each responsible party and the damage award is apportioned accordingly. Negligence laws vary from state to state and are frequently changed. This is a good reason to contact an experienced attorney for legal advice.

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What is my personal injury lawsuit worth?

Many factors go into determining the value of a case including who was at fault for the accident, the extent of the damages and the amount of insurance held by the defendant. In personal injury lawsuits, a settlement may be made if an agreement about the case’s worth can be reached with the insurance company. If not, the case must be presented to the trial court to determine its value. Considerable compensation may be obtained if your injuries are severe, permanent, require extensive medical treatment and cause absences from work.

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Should I deal directly with the insurance company?

Insurance companies may not give you a fair assessment of the value of your case. As businesses, insurance companies collect as many premiums as possible and pay out as few claims as possible. An attorney’s expertise is particularly vital for accident victims when an insurance company is trying to settle the case.

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