Personal Injury Law FAQs
Q: How can I determine if I have a personal injury case?A: The initial criteria to determine if you have a personal injury case is whether you have suffered an injury to your person or property. Next you should determine whether the injury was someone else's fault. Make note that it is not always necessary to have a physical injury in order to file personal injury case. Nonphysical losses and harms can also be used in personal injury claims. With regards to assault cases, for instance, it is not necessary to show that a person's action caused you actual physical harm but that harm was likely to occur. In situations where someone has attacked your reputation, invaded your privacy, or inflicted emotional distress upon you; there is available recourse.
Q: What is the time frame to file a lawsuit if I have been injured?A: Based on each state’s time limits or "statutes of limitations," you have a specified amount of time to file a personal injury case. There are certain states where you have up to one year to file an automobile accident lawsuit. You may lose your legal right to damages for your injury if you miss the deadline for filing your case. Therefore, it is imperative to speak with an attorney immediately after an injury.
Q: What do I need to bring with me for my meeting with an attorney?A: You should come prepared to meet with an attorney by bringing any documents that are relevant to your case. Examples of this would be as follows: Police reports, eyewitness statements and other details about the conditions surrounding auto accidents, fires, and assaults. Damages will also be determined with copies of medical reports and medical bills that will further corroborate the extent and nature of your injuries. Also helpful are insurance information, photographs you have of the accident scene, your property damage, and if possible your injury. Basically the more information you are able to provide your lawyer, the easier it will be to determine if you have a successful claim. If you are unable to gather any information at the time of your first meeting your Los Angeles personal injury attorney will be able to obtain them throughout the investigation of your claim.
Q: What if a person dies before bringing a personal injury lawsuit?A: Of course this depends on if the person died as a direct result of injuries from the accident or from unrelated causes. If the injuries, though, from the accident are the reason for the death of the injured party then that person's heirs or estate may recover money through a lawsuit known as a wrongful death case. Keep in mind that even though a person with a valid personal injury claim dies from unrelated causes, the claim survives in most cases and may be filed by the executor or representative of the decedent’s estate.
Q: Define “negligence?”A: The main component in personal injury cases is determining how a “reasonable person" was expected to act in the particular situation which caused the injury. An individual is negligent when that person fails to act like an "ordinary reasonable person" would have acted. The “ordinary reasonable person” standard is often a matter that is determined by a jury after presentation of evidence and argument at trial proceedings.
Q: What if I can’t establish someone’s negligence was the reason for my injury? Is there any other basis for personal injury liability other than negligence?A: Yes. The other basis for personal injury liability is “strict liability”. In this case companies or individuals may be held liable for certain activities that harm others, regardless if they have not acted negligently or with wrongful intent. This theory contends that a party injured by a defective or unexpectedly dangerous product, for example, may recover damages from the manufacturer or seller of the product without showing that the manufacturer or seller was in fact negligent. In addition, those individuals or companies that conduct their business in explosives, dangerous animals or the storage of dangerous substances can be strictly liable for harm caused to others as a result of these activities.
Q: Will the person who caused my injury be punished by the law?A: Traditionally not. Civil action cases regarding personal injury do not result in jail terms or criminal fines as punishment. Typically punishment is reserved for criminal cases. There have been some cases, though, where juries and courts can award “punitive damages”. These additional damages serve a purpose to punish those who have behaved recklessly or intentionally against the public's interest. The ultimate goal of punitive damages is to dissuade such defendants and others from this same type of detrimental behavior in the future.