Centers for Disease Control stats show accidents are the fourth top cause of death! In America, 200,955 people die of accidents every year. If you’ve been in an accident, you may be wondering if you can receive compensation for your injuries. Depending on your injuries, you may be able to file a personal injury claim and you may be entitled to damages. Our attorneys have years of experience defending clients. We want to represent you.
Personal Injury Claim
First, what is a personal injury claim, and what is the process? A personal injury lawsuit includes four steps: accident, injury, claim, and compensation. The accident occurs and you discover you have an injury. You decide to pursue a personal injury claim. You contact several personal injury attorneys for a free consultation. Then, you pick an attorney and your personal injury lawsuit journey begins. During the process, you can expect four phases. These are discovery, interrogatories, production of documents, and deposition. In the end, your settlement covers your percentage payment for attorney costs. This is also when you submit payment for any outstanding medical expenses. Then, you receive the final settlement total.
What Are Free Consultations? Are They Worth My Time?
Yes! Free consultations are worth your time. Most attorneys will offer a free consultation over the phone or at their law firm. Consultations are the opportunity to shop around for the right attorney. It is also your chance to ask questions. If this is your first personal injury claim, you can ask for an overview of the processions. Communication is important, and attorneys understand that these situations are intimidating. When you’re shopping for an attorney, your goal is to pick the one who will provide the most success. Our expert attorneys will work to earn compensation for your case.
Questions to Ask When Shopping for an Attorney
Asking background questions when shopping for attorneys is vital for your case’s success. Simple background questions will give you insight into the right fit. It’s okay if you do not know all the questions to ask. That is why communication is key upfront. The first question you should ask an attorney is about their communication. Here’s a quick list of questions to ask:
- Does your attorney have experience with cases like yours?
- Does your attorney expect the case to go to court? If so, then ask about their success rate.
- How much time will you spend working on my case?
- Who will be reaching out to me for important details about the case? It is common for attorneys to have paralegals who collect information. Paralegals are also great resources for asking questions as the case progresses.
- How often can you expect to hear an update on progression?
- Does your attorney prefer a certain method of communication? Personal injury attorneys may have a work phone and prefer to text. Texting is a convenient, quick way to ask quick questions or send documents.
- Will you have to pay any costs if the case does not settle?
- How long can you expect the case to take until it settles?
Another tip is to read the contracts you sign with care. Contracts will detail if you will have to pay fees. They also detail what you can expect when working with an attorney.
What if I Decided Not to Get an Attorney? Could That Affect My Winning a Settlement?
Yes, not having an attorney to represent you could impact the success of your case. Personal injury attorneys have training in legal proceedings to ensure your success. Decker Law Firm believes in transparency and communication. We stay aware of deadlines and request information right away. Let us worry about the complexities of insurance companies, law, and paperwork. That way you can focus on recovery and feeling better!
Personal Injury Claims: What Qualifies as an Injury?
Personal injury claims cover a wide range of injuries like:
- Car or truck accidents
- Bicycle or motorcycle accidents
- Medical malpractice
- Slip and fall
- Cruise accidents
- Train accidents
- Premises liability
- Toxic torts
- Workplace accidents
- Product defects
These injuries result in physical harm to a client. There are also claims for non-physical harm.
This means an injury to your mental or emotional well-being. It could also be an injury to your reputation. Some examples include:
- Emotional distress
- False detention or malicious prosecution
- Arrest or imprisonment
- Invasion of privacy
An example is if someone loses their job as a result of an accident. This could lead to more compensation for loss of job, wages, or reputation.
Grounds: What Does It Mean?
Uncovering the grounds for a personal injury claim are vital. Grounds are reasons why personal injury claims can be worth pursuing. These reasons serve as your foundation for why you deserve compensation or relief. Three common grounds or reasons are that the defendant was either:
- Negligent, resulting in an accident and injury to you
- Liable at the time of the accident
- Committing an intentional wrongful act that leads to your harm
An attorney may ask you about the accident in a consultation. They will have specific questions about what you remember. For a car accident, they may ask you if you were wearing a seatbelt. These questions may seem trivial, but they offer a clear picture of the accident. If you have been in an accident, the best thing to do is write down every detail you remember.
Personal injury claims can take time, and it is important to remain clear on the accident.
What Are Damages?
In essence, damages are what a plaintiff is asking for to cover the cost and injuries from an accident. There are three main categories of damages you’ll need to be aware of. Those three categories are: compensatory, general, and punitive. Let’s break those down for better understanding.
Making Sense of Compensatory Damages
Some would argue that compensatory damages are the easiest to calculate. Compensatory damages include medical costs, out-of-pocket expenses, or loss of wages. Medical costs are when you receive healthcare as a result of a personal injury. A great tip we can offer you is to keep track of your doctor’s visits relating to an accident. Any doctor’s records about a personal injury claim will be helpful. A personal injury attorney will look at several diverse medical records. We will look at records from primary care, urgent care, or emergency room MDs. Attorneys also look at medical records from psychologists, dentists, or chiropractors. These are a few examples, but the list goes on. That is why it is important to keep track of the details of your medical visits.
What Are General Damages?
General damages are the costs that result from the after-effects of the accident. General damages are sometimes combined with compensatory damages. So, this is where an attorney will calculate emotional injuries. This is also for pain and suffering damages.
It can be difficult and tricky to put a dollar amount to emotional damages. That’s why it is important to do research on your attorney of choice. Ask questions about their experience and success rate.
What Are Punitive Damages?
Punitive damages are meant to punish a defendant for a wrongful act. Punitive are only allowed in a small number of cases in Virginia. Punitive damages can be awarded by a jury if it is proven that a defendant acted with willful and wanton negligence. This conduct is defined as “acting consciously in disregard of another person’s rights or acting with reckless indifference to the consequences, with the defendant aware, from his knowledge of existing circumstances and conditions, that his conduct probably would cause injury to another.” Cowan v. Hospice Support Care, Inc., 603 S.E.2d 916, 919. The most common example of when punitive damages are allowed is when someone is driving under the influence of alcohol or other intoxicants. Punitive damages are usually awarded in cases where the Defendant got a DUI or DWI. Sometimes, that decision to drive while intoxicated leads to an innocent person’s death. Punitive damages are punishment for at-fault persons due to their willful disregard of the life and safety of others.
How Do Lawyers Calculate Damages?
As we know, a lot goes into calculating damages…so how do lawyers do it? The best way to answer this is evidence of the accident, evidence of damages, or receipts. Attorneys will review all the details to better understand a case. Those details include the medical bills, the medical records, the lost wages, etc. Another key point to keep in mind is a cap on damages. Some states cap the amount claimed in damages. This depends on many factors like the type of damage and claim.
Timing and Deadlines: Statutes of Limitations Personal Injury Claims in Virginia
A quick but vital detail to remember is statutes of limitations. Every state will have statutes of limitations on claims. For personal injury in the state of Virginia, you can submit a lawsuit two years from the date of the accident. After the two-year deadline, the defendant can file a “motion for dismissal.” A motion to dismiss is when the defendant sends a formal request to the court to dismiss the case. Personal injury attorneys keep track of these important deadlines for you! Contact an attorney if you believe you qualify as an exception. Some exceptions to the statute of limitations do exist. One is when the injured person is under the age of 18.
Are Damages Calculated Differently for Different Types of Cases?
The simple answer to this question is, yes. Each claim is going to have different details that will make up for the final total damages. These calculations vary due to several factors. For example, not all cases calculate out-of-pocket expenses. But, most times there is some cost as a result. Also, different types of cases lead to different outcomes for the client. A toxic tort case may lead to permanent health damage. A medical malpractice case may lead to wrongful death. Personal injury attorneys know and understand the difference.
What Is a Toxic Tort Personal Injury Claim?
A toxic tort personal injury claim involves exposure to toxins. These toxins could be harmful chemicals, pesticides, or pharmaceutical drugs. One toxic tort you might not expect is toxic black mold! Mold exposure can lead to a variety of health problems. You could experience coughing, wheezing, headaches, and more. Mold is in humid places and even in construction materials. There could also be mold growth in bathrooms and kitchens behind the walls where you are not able to see. Rooms that have high humidity are at higher risk for mold. Toxic tort claims also involve exposure to a toxic medication. This leads us to the topic of medical malpractice.
What About a Medical Malpractice Personal Injury Claim?
Medical malpractice can be a basic surgery to misdiagnosis of a serious illness. An example of medical malpractice is if you go in for a routine medical exam. You visit your doctor, and they give you a clean bill of health. But! They do not take note of obvious signs of life-threatening cancer. Their mistake could put your life at risk or cause permanent damage. Sometimes medical malpractice can lead to wrongful death. This is where personal injury attorneys work to uncover the facts. They will use the truth to defend you from medical negligence and medical recklessness. We want to help you regain healthcare trust. Let us defend you against medical malpractice.
Are Medical Costs Covered in the Damages?
Medical costs do fall in the category of compensatory damages. In short, yes, a personal injury claim will cover all medical costs from an accident. Still, it is important to visit a law firm.
The reason for this is that personal injury attorneys will review your case to see how much your case is worth. They will gather all important information and serve as representation for you. Our attorneys will help you decipher insurance companies and medical expenses.
Are Pain and Suffering Covered in the Damages?
Yes, you can collect compensation for pain and suffering in damages. Personal injuries often result in pain and suffering. The injury occurs on a physical, emotional, social, and financial level. It is important to contact an attorney to keep track of medical reports and summaries. Also, journaling about your experience can help. Details are forgettable. Stay clear on the events of the accident by writing them down. Keep your record of doctor’s visits, medical treatment plans, and medications. Still wondering what pain and suffering mean for calculating damages? Let us give you a situational example.
An Example of Pain and Suffering Damages
There is a client, Ellie, who was driving home from work when she was rear-ended. The attorney reads the police report from the accident. The notes state that the defendant was texting and that they are at fault. Ellie was in a lot of pain at the site of the accident. She decides to have the paramedic take her for a medical exam. She arrives at a hospital where a doctor declares she has an injury. Ellie continues to experience tremendous pain. She is in so much pain that she is not able to go to work. She lives alone and relies on her income to survive. Ellie misses several days from work. She takes the time to recover, but she is worrying more as she sees several medical expenses building up. She is also stressing to find financial support to cover her bills. She loses wages, and her reputation comes under question for missing time at work. She needs to figure out how to travel because her car was not driveable after the accident. She decides to rent a car, which is compensatory damage. The rental is not covered by the insurance companies with her plan. She has an added total to her out-of-pocket expenses. She learns she will need to continue with a medical treatment plan. Her doctor gives her orders to go to physical therapy. Ellie decides to file a personal injury lawsuit. Once you find your attorney, like Ellie, we can help in calculating pain and suffering damages. Another example of a claim that includes pain and suffering is wrongful death claims.
What Is Wrongful Death?
There’s nothing more heartbreaking than losing someone you love to wrongful death. It is even more challenging when questions about who will pay for the funeral costs arise. That’s where our services can help you earn compensation to cover costs. Pain and suffering occur when someone causes a needless accident due to negligence. There is no question that grief is painful and uproots your life. Another example of pain and suffering is the pain that results from a car accident. Injuries from car accidents cause emotional, mental, financial, and physical damage. A common injury in car accidents is whiplash.
What Is a Whiplash Injury?
According to Mayo Clinic, whiplash occurs from a forceful whip of the neck. The effects of whiplash can be devastating for someone that is relying on a single income and needs to work. The pain and suffering can affect a person’s mental and emotional health. These damages are as significant as the physical whiplash injury. Pain and suffering damages put a recoverable dollar amount for that negative experience.
Are Damages Only Used in Personal Injury Cases?
This depends on each case and what state you are in. As an attorney reviews the details of the case, they can see where to calculate damages. There are many different types of personal injury cases. There is a chance to collect damages in all types of personal injury cases. That includes toxic torts, medical malpractice, car accidents, and more. But are damages only used in personal injury cases? That’s a great question that leads us to our next point…property damage.
What About Property Damages Claims?
No, personal injury claims are not the only cases that calculate damages. Property damage claim attorneys calculate damages also. Property damage involves damages to your automobile, residential, or commercial property. These damages can be the result of negligence or intent. Attorneys will calculate the cost of the damage to your property. They will also calculate insurance companies’ coverage and review your property insurance plan.
What About Property Damages From a Person?
If a person causes property damage by accident, you may still be able to collect compensation. An intentional damaging of property in Virginia is a class one misdemeanor! Contact an attorney if you have proof of intentional property damage. Remember that there are also statutes of limitations for property damage claims. In Virginia, for property damage claims, you have five years from the date of the event. After the date of the deadline like personal injury claims, the defendant can move to dismiss.
Do You Owe Some of the Damages to Your Lawyer?
This is a tricky question to answer as it is not a cut-and-dried yes or no. Most attorneys will offer free consultations. This is where you’ll explain your case. Most law firms will not charge you. It is important to keep in mind that there is a percentage “cost.” This percentage can vary for a law firm from state to state. Our percentage is 33.33% and does not increase if the case files suit. We also will not increase the percentage of earnings if the case goes to trial in court. That being said, not all law firms are the same, and some do increase their percentages.
We offer no upfront fees because we care about our clients. Our attorneys work for a fair percentage. We will not collect unless your case is successful. Still, wondering about the price and fee breakdown? Not to worry! Read our blog that breaks down the “cost” of hiring personal injury attorneys.
Defend Yourself in a Personal Injury Claim and Hire a Personal Injury Attorney
Now that you know all the ins and outs of personal injury lawsuits, it’s time to seek the right law fire. Hire an attorney to help you with calculating damages in your personal injury claim! We have a strong team of expert attorneys that are ready to take on your case. Call us today and let us represent you in your personal injury claim!