Millions of lawsuits are filed in the United States each year. One of the most common types of legal actions that our courts see each year has to do with personal injury claims. Personal injury claims arise when a person is injured due to the careless, negligent or reckless acts of another party. When a person is injured due to these negligent actions, he or she has the right to sue the at-fault party to recover damages incurred as a result of the injury.
Personal injury claims encompass a variety of actions that allow the injured person to obtain monetary compensation from the negligent party to reimburse the victim for damages incurred due to the accident. A variety of situations give rise to personal injury cases; however, there are some types of personal injury claims that are more common in today’s legal system.
1. Vehicle Accidents
Accidents involving cars, trucks and motorcycles are the number one type of personal injury case in the United States today. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, over 2.3 million people were injured in vehicle accidents in 2012. All types of accidents can result in severe injuries; however, accidents involving large trucks and motorcycles tend to have more severe injuries per accident due to the type of vehicle involved. Large trucks cause severe injuries for the drivers and passengers of smaller vehicles, while motorcyclists are at a higher risk because a motorcycle does not offer the same protection that a car provides.
Common causes of vehicle accidents include:
- Distracted drivers
- Excessive speed
- Driver fatigue
- Alcohol and drugs
- Road conditions
- Reckless driving
- Disobeying traffic signals and laws
- Design defects
- Road rage
2. Medical Malpractice
Medical malpractice is another common type of personal injury claim. Medical malpractice occurs when a health care provider fails to provide patient care that meets or exceeds an acceptable standard of care, and the patient is injured as a result. The standard of care is measured or defined by the care that a reasonable professional of similar experience would use in a similar situation. It is important to note that a bad result does not always equate to medical malpractice. Occasionally, there will be negative results in the medical field because doctors do not possess the ability to heal every patient. However, if you can prove that the medical provider was negligent in his or her care of the patient, you may be able to recover compensation for your injuries.
Medical malpractice is among the most difficult and complex types of personal injury cases. It often requires expert witnesses to testify to the standard of care that should have been used and how the breach of that standard of care resulted in the patient’s injury. For this reason, you should seek the advice of a personal injury attorney who has experience in area of medical malpractice.
3. Slip and Fall Cases
Slip and fall cases are another common type of personal injury claim. Slips and falls can happen anywhere, from personal residences and retails stores to parking lots and playgrounds. Property owners have a legal obligation to provide a safe environment for visitors and customers who use their property. When property owners are negligent in their duty to provide premises that are reasonably safe and free from hazards, those who are injured have the legal right to claim damages for injuries incurred while on the property.
While not all accidents that occur on the property of another party will lead to the liability of the owner, you should always consult an attorney who is experienced in liability laws to determine the nature of the property owner’s legal duty to provide a safe environment for visitors, workers and customers. Premises liability is a complex area of the law that often involves multiple defendants and causes of action. Having an experienced personal injury attorney can help increase your chances of recovering compensation.
4. Boating Accidents
Boating accidents cause serious and fatal injuries ranging from broken bones to paralysis and death. Boating accidents are not confined to accidents that occur on or around boats. Accidents involving other types of watercraft, such as jet skis, are also included in this type of personal injury claim. It can also involve accidents that happen on larger ships. The laws may be different depending on the watercraft and the location of the accident; therefore, a personal injury attorney who is experienced in filing and trying accidents that happen on the water is your best chance of receiving the compensation you deserve for your injuries.
Common reasons for boating accidents:
- Inexperienced operators
- Inattentive or distracted boating drivers/operators
- Excessive speed
- Defective products
- Use of alcohol or drugs
- Failure to adhere to safety standards
5. Wrongful Death
Wrongful death is a type of personal injury claim that arises out of other personal injury claims. Wrongful death claims may arise out of car accidents, slips and falls, medical malpractice, boating accidents and motorcycle accidents. A wrongful death claim can come from any type of personal injury claim; however, the damages in a wrongful death claim are different from those in a typical personal injury claim. In some cases, the victim’s family may be entitled to specific types of damages while the victim’s probate estate may be entitled to other types of damages. In order to ensure that the family receives all of the damages that they are entitled to receive from the negligent party, they should consult with a wrongful death attorney as soon as possible following the accident.
Recovering Damages in a Personal Injury Claim
The damages in a personal injury case will depend on the severity of the injury and the circumstances of the accident. Common types of damages that are awarded in personal injury cases include but are not limited to:
- Past and future medical expenses
- Funeral expenses
- Past and future lost wages
- Lost earning capacity
- Ongoing personal care
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of consortium
- Punitive damages
In order to determine the types of damages that you or your family may be entitled to receive for a personal injury claim, you should contact a personal injury attorney as soon as possible following the accident. It is vital that the attorney begins as quickly as possible to preserve evidence that will be needed to prove your claim. It is never advisable to discuss your case or provide a recorded statement to an insurance company or any other party without first consulting with an attorney to ensure that your rights are protected.