It is an unfortunate fact that most of us will suffer a personal injury at some point during our lives. Many such incidents that result in personal injuries are the consequences of the negligence or intentional actions of other parties.
An Altoona personal injury lawyer may be able to help you to pursue claims against these parties for your losses. Whenever another party is liable for an incident that results in a personal injury, the injury victim may seek payment for medical care, lost wages, pain and suffering, and emotional trauma. A personal injury attorney could help to pursue your claims for such payments.
Typical Injuries in a Personal Injury Case
Any injury that results from an act of negligence could lead to a claim for damages. These injuries must require medical treatment for a legal claim to be worth pursuing. Some examples of the injuries resulting in legal claims include:
- Broken bones
- Neck injuries
- Internal bleeding
- Back injuries
- Concussions and Traumatic Brain Injuries
Pursuing an injury claim starts with compiling the medical records related to these conditions. An experienced local attorney could review the facts of an accident and the ensuing medical records to determine the value of a personal injury claim.
Accidents That Result in Injuries
Most personal injuries that are attributable to the actions of another party are the result of negligence. This means that the defendant did not intend to cause any harm, but through their carelessness or recklessness, harm occurred nonetheless.
An injured plaintiff can only pursue a claim after an accident if a defendant violated a duty of care. These duties are commonly violated. Examples of negligence cases include:
- Car, truck, motorcycle, or pedestrian accidents where a driver has a duty to act reasonably and responsibly while behind the wheel
- Premises liability claims where landowners have a duty to protect invited guests from harm
- Medical malpractice claims where doctors and nurses have a duty to provide competent care
- Product liability cases where makers of defective products fail to design and manufacture products that are reasonably safe for their intended use
In all cases centered around negligence, plaintiffs must prove that a defendant’s actions caused or contributed to their losses. However, plaintiffs must also be prepared to justify their own actions. In all negligence cases, courts will consider a legal theory called modified comparative negligence. According to 42 Pa.C.S §7102, courts must evaluate the actions of all parties to an accident to assign fault. If the court believes that a plaintiff is more than 50 percent at fault for an incident, that court cannot award any compensation. An Altoona personal injury lawyer could help to explain the concept of negligence and how it affects a claim for damages.
How Do Cases Centered Around Intentional Violence Impact a Claim?
A significant portion of personal injuries are also the result of the intentional actions of defendants. Assaults, sexual offenses, kidnappings, and even intentional infliction of emotional distress are all examples where a plaintiff alleges that a defendant intended to cause harm. Here, it is also likely that a defendant faces related criminal charges. While a conviction in criminal court can result in the defendant paying a fine or serving a jail sentence, it may be necessary for a victim to pursue a separate but related civil claim for damages to recover compensation for emotional trauma and pain and suffering.
A conviction in a criminal case can serve as conclusive evidence in a civil claim. A legal concept called res judicata states that a court cannot reexamine a question that another court has already answered. For example, if an assault leads to a conviction in criminal court for Defendant A, Defendant A cannot argue in civil court that this assault never occurred. On the other hand, an acquittal in criminal court does not mean that a civil case will not succeed. An Altoona personal injury lawyer could help to explain the interactions between criminal and civil court cases.
What is the Process of a Civil Claim?
While no two personal injury claims are exactly alike, each of them follows the same general process. After hiring an attorney, a plaintiff’s case typically begins with a thorough investigation of the accident. This includes preserving and obtaining evidence related to the cause of the injury as well as identifying the extent of the claimant’s damages.
Once the claim is investigated, the plaintiff typically sends the at-fault party a demand letter. This letter is an offer of financial settlement in exchange for the promise not to file an injury lawsuit. Often, these letters result in the eventual settlement of an injury claim.
Claims that do not settle can result in a lawsuit. These lawsuits go through the discovery process first. Discovery involves the two parties exchanging copies of the evidence they possess. If the case does not settle while litigation continues, it will eventually be resolved through a trial.
Statute of Limitations
Every personal injury lawsuit in Altoona must abide by the deadline known as the statute of limitations. The statute of limitations for personal injury claims is codified under 42 P.S. §5524. Generally, under this statute, a plaintiff in a personal injury lawsuit must file his or her claim within two years of the day the injury occurred. Exceptions to this general rule do exist, and an experienced attorney can explain those exceptions to you and determine if they apply to your claim.
The consequences of noncompliance with the statute are severe. A plaintiff can expect the defendant to request that the case be dismissed immediately if it is brought after the time limit expires. Outside of a handful of exceptions, the courts will generally dismiss these cases with prejudice.
An Altoona Personal Injury Lawyer Could Help You
The purpose of a personal injury claim is to make you whole again. This means that a liable defendant has an obligation to provide payments to cover all your losses. An Altoona personal injury lawyer could help you to measure those losses, gather the evidence necessary to prove that the defendant was at fault, and represent your interests during all settlement negotiations and court hearings. Contact us to speak with an Altoona personal injury lawyer at our firm today and begin working on your claim.