Personal Injury - An Overview

If you have been injured due to the intentional or negligent actions of another party, you have suffered a personal injury. This can come in the form of a car accident, medical malpractice, workplace injuries, assault, defective products or accidents in your own home. There are many different situations that can result in litigation. In most of these cases you should hire a personal injury attorney to represent you.

Personal injury claims can be as simple as a fender bender which results in whiplash, or as complex as an asbestos exposure case which involves dozens of defendants. The common factor in all personal injury cases is negligence on the part of a person, party or entity who failed to provide a reasonable duty of care. If a company or individual knows that they are exposing people to harm or danger, whether it is with exposure to toxic substances, faulty machinery, or unsafe products, or if the person does not exercise a reasonable amount of care when driving, then there may be a risk of personal injury. Similarly, medical malpractice cases, in which a health care professional does not employ an expected standard of care, fall under personal injury.

Another category of personal injury is wrongful death, and if it can be established that a company or entity was negligent, and that this negligence led to the death of an individual, the deceased's family members or dependents may have an actionable claim. The one-year odds of dying ranged from about 1 in 6,000 in a transportation accident to about 1 in 45,000,000 from a spider bite. Lifetime odds of dying from any unintentional cause are about 1 in 36. In terms of death rates by industries, the mining industry topped the death rates in 2001 with 31.8 fatalities per 100,000 workers, beating agricultural with 21.3, construction with 13,3, manufacturing with 3.3, and transportation and public with 11.4. Personal injury lawyers also handle wrongful death cases on behalf of bereaved spouses, parents, partners or children. When an individual has been killed as the result of a workplace accident or some other example of negligence, his or her family or dependents can suffer greatly. An attorney can help those family members recoup loss of income or loss of consortium.

Most personal injury cases are relatively complicated, and it's therefore advisable to hire a personal injury lawyers if you would like to bring a suit against the negligent party in your personal injury accident. If possible, find an attorney who is experienced in your type of claim.

Personal injury attorneys will assist you by communicating with insurance adjusters, filing court paperwork, locating eyewitnesses and expert witnesses, and representing you in negotiations or in court. A personal injury lawyer can even help you find a physician who will wait for payment until your case has settled. Most personal injury lawyers work on a contingency basis, meaning that you are charged no fees up front. Only after you have won an award will you owe your attorney fees, usually in the form of a percentage of your award. Of course, you may be responsible for some costs associated with your lawsuit even if it is unsuccessful, so make sure that you understand all the payment arrangements up front.

Statues of limitations vary from state to state, and can also vary depending on the type of personal injury in question. Your personal injury attorney can advise you on the statute of limitations with which you will be dealing, but it's always a good idea to contact an attorney as soon as possible after your injury or accident, or upon discovery of your illness, in order to get the process started.


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