Finding Justice for Personal Injury

It is raining heavily, and you seek shelter in a shopping mall. As you walk around the shops, you slip and fall on a pool of water, crashing painfully to the ground. The water had come from a leak in the roof and there were no warning signs to alert shoppers to the danger. The fall results in a broken arm which puts you out of work for three months. You might blame yourself and think, “I should’ve just watched where I was going.” However, under the law, you are eligible for personal injury compensation because the mall failed in its duty to manage your safety. 

What is Personal Injury?

Personal injury under the law refers to the specific type of legal cases where the plaintiff (the injured person) has suffered an injury due to the defendant’s actions or negligence. The defendant could be an individual or an entity, such as a shopping mall.

In personal injury cases, the defendant must first be deemed to have a duty of care. Duty of care can cover a wide range of situations. The most known example of duty of care is that of medical professionals, who have a duty of care to keep their patients safe from harm and perform their job to a level that is expected of their credentials.

There are many other everyday examples of duty of care. Motorists have a duty of care to drive responsibly and according to the rules at all times. Manufacturers have a duty of care to prevent their products from posing a danger to consumers. Shopping malls have a duty of care to ensure that shoppers are alerted to slip-and-fall risks.

Any form of action or negligence that leads to injury or harm could be the basis of a personal injury case. While some personal injury cases stem from deliberate malicious action, many of them are the result of unintentional negligence or reckless action. Nonetheless, if someone suffers injury or harm, another party can usually be held liable.

Have I Suffered Personal Injury?

Personal injury is not just physical injury. Aside from actual bodily harm, personal injury also covers mental pain and suffering as well as emotional distress. Actual bodily harm considers the costs that come with the incident. This could include existing and projected future medical expenses, physical rehabilitation costs, and lost wages compensation.

Mental pain and suffering and emotional distress are a result of the physical hurt and trauma of the accident experienced by the plaintiff. Common examples of this could be anger, anxiety, depression, fear, sexual dysfunction, and even post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). If the incident has resulted in a negative change in the plaintiff’s life where they are no longer able to enjoy life as they used to, there is a case for mental and emotional suffering.

In addition, relatives of victims of personal injury may also seek compensation. For instance, an individual could sue for loss of companionship if their marital relationship broke down due to their spouse being physically or emotionally injured. Family members are also entitled to seek compensation for having to care for someone who was recovering from a personal injury incident.

How Can I File a Claim?

Should you decide to pursue a personal injury claim, you should consult with an experienced personal injury attorney. Most attorneys will offer free case evaluations to help potential clients determine if they have a strong enough claim to file a case. They can also help you to navigate the legal pathways and provide advice on a reasonable timeline for settlement.

Many people are worried about filing personal injury claims as they are afraid of being tied up in the courts and having to appear in front of judges. In reality, a vast majority of personal injury claims end in a settlement without claimants having to step into the courtroom or go through the trauma and hassle of a trial.

The settlement process begins with your attorney filing a letter of demand to begin negotiations. Your attorney will then start to negotiate with the insurance company until they agree on a figure that is accepted by both parties. Sometimes, the insurance company will pose a counteroffer that you can either accept or reject. The settlement will also include conditions that prevent any more actions to be taken regarding the case.

Because trial judgments can result in much higher compensation figures and courts can impose punitive damages on responsible parties for avoiding negotiations, defendants generally prefer to settle. This also means a quicker payout for the injured parties. However, if negotiations fail and both parties cannot arrive at an agreed figure, complainants can choose to take the case to trial. At trial, the court will render a judgment after hearing arguments from both sides.

While the circumstances leading up to an accident may seem innocuous, the personal injury sustained can be serious and life-changing, not just for the victim but also for their loved ones. If you feel like you have a reason to file a personal injury claim, seek justice for yourself and speak to a personal injury attorney about your concerns.