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FAQ - Ritchie Law Firm

A Personal Injury is any physical or mental injury to a person as a result of someone’s negligence or harmful act. Sometimes personal injury may be referred to as bodily injury. Personal injuries can occur in a wide variety of ways. The following are some of the most common accidents resulting in personal injury:

  • Auto accidents
  • Dangerous or Defective Product Injuries (Product Liability)
  • Aviation Disasters
  • Professional Malpractice
  • Workers Compensation
  • Wrongful Death
  • Toxic Exposure
  • Home Accidents
  • Dog Bites

Personal Injury Victims are entitled to recover money damages for all losses and expenses they incur as a result of an accident. The damages may include the following.

  • Medical bills
  • Lost Wages, including overtime
  • Pain & Suffering
  • Physical Disability
  • Disfigurement
  • Permanent Scars
  • Emotional Trauma
  • Mental Anguish
  • Loss of Enjoyment
  • Loss of Love & Affection
  • Embarrassment
  • Mental Disability
  • Property Damage
  • All out of pocket expenses (transportation charges, house cleaning, grass cutting, and others).

To have a personal injury case, you must be able to show that you have been injured. This may be a physical injury or it may be an emotional injury. In addition, you must be able to show that someone else (the defendant) is at fault for your injury under a negligence, strict liability or intentional misconduct theory. In some cases, it may be necessary for you to show that the other party is more at fault for the injury than you are.

Even if an accident of injury was partially your fault you still may have a Claim based on the concept of Comparative Negligence or Contributory Negligence.

The term “contributory negligence” is used to describe the actions of an injured person that may have also caused that person’s own injuries. For example, a person who ignores a “Caution – Wet Floor” sign and slips and falls in the supermarket may be found to have been careless and at fault for any injuries suffered. “Contributory negligence” can prevent a person from collecting any monies to compensate for injuries suffered, even if that person’s carelessness was minor.

Some states have done away with the concept of contributory negligence altogether and instead use the concept of “comparative negligence The term “comparative negligence: means that the fault of all parties is compared and the amount of the recovery for damages sustained by the injured victim is reduced by the percentage of his or her own fault. In this way, each person is held accountable for the amount of damages that they caused”.

If you’re injured by the negligent action of another, but you contributed to the accident by your failure to exercise reasonably prudent care, you’re guilty of contributory negligence. You may also be guilty of a form of contributory negligence if you voluntarily expose yourself to danger – by riding a roller coaster without wearing a seat belt, or working with a neighbor’s power saw or other dangerous tool if you’re inexperienced or fail to use a safety guard. This is called assumption of risk.

If you have been seriously injured or are unsure as to the outcome of your injury, then an experienced personal injury attorney should always be consulted before you give any statements or sign papers of any kind and as soon after your injury as possible.

In a serious injury case, you are better off hiring an attorney as soon as possible. Most firms offer a free consultation with no obligation therefore, you have nothing to lose by consulting an attorney before you accept the insurance company offer.

There is a statute of limitations that requires you to file suit within a specific period of time, depending upon the circumstances of your case, or else you will be prohibited from obtaining any compensation for your injuries. An attorney will be able to help you keep within the statute of limitations.

A contingency fee is a fee that is used by lawyers in most personal injury cases. It is contingent when the fee is conditioned upon your attorney’s successfully resolution of your case. A contingent fee is paid as a percentage of your monetary recovery. A contingent fee is what is meant when you hear “there is no fee unless there we recovery”.The client is generally responsible for the out-of-pocket costs of litigation. Contingency fees are usually one third of what you win from the case.

Most personal injury cases are settled out of court between opposing lawyers or by the insurance company. If a case does go to trial you most likely will have to appear so that your testimony can be heard.

Every state has certain time limits, called “statutes of limitations,” that govern the period during which you must file a personal injury lawsuit. In some states, for example, you may have as little as one year to file a lawsuit from an automobile accident. If you miss the statutory deadline for filing a case, your case is thrown out of court.

The statutes of limitations are time frames in which you have to file a lawsuit. When the statute of limitations expires on your case, you simply don’t have a case anymore. Statutes of limitation differ not only from state to state, but also in regard to the kinds of lawsuits involved. In some states the statute of limitations for medical malpractice, suits against governmental agencies, and wrongful death actions is shorter than that for other types of personal injury cases. In general, however, the statute of limitations for personal injury cases is from one to three years, and the time begins from the time of the accident. There are some exceptions and an experienced lawyer can help you with them.

The time it takes to settle a personal injury case depends on the circumstances surrounding the case. The more complex the case the longer it may take to settle. Many cases can take anywhere from 3 to 18 months to settle depending on its complexity.