Negligence Personal Injury Claims: Everything You Need to Know
The laws that govern personal injury cases in New York are complex. If you have been hurt by someone else’s negligence, you should not try to tackle your claim alone. A personal injury lawyer can explain the most important laws that apply to your case and help you navigate the process. Still, it is beneficial to have a basic understanding of the personal injury laws and the legal procedure before you file your claim. Here’s everything you need to know about negligence personal injury claims.
Understanding Personal Injury
Personal injury is a legal term used to describe a physical, mental, or emotional injury. Through a personal injury lawsuit, anyone who suffers an injury due to the negligence of another person, company, or entity can claim compensation for their losses. Property damage is not included in personal injury law. However, through a personal injury lawsuit, injured individuals can include property damages they incurred as a result of the accident that caused them harm.
Most personal injury cases rely on the concept of negligence. Negligence is not intentional—rather, it is a careless action or a failure to act that results in another person becoming hurt. When filing a personal injury claim, you are alleging that someone else was negligent and did not fulfill their duty to act in a reasonable manner. You are also alleging that their negligent behavior caused the accident in which you became hurt. In certain cases, you may even allege the other party was grossly negligent, which is essentially acting recklessly.
Parties in Personal Injury Cases
There are two parties in every personal injury case. The first is the plaintiff, or the injured party. Plaintiffs attempt to hold defendants responsible for paying their damages and must prove that the defendant was at fault for the accident. Some injury cases have just one plaintiff, while others have many. When a case has many plaintiffs, it may become a class action or a mass tort claim. A class action groups the plaintiffs together and represents them in the same lawsuit. In a mass tort claim, each plaintiff files their own lawsuit, but they may share resources and knowledge with each other.
The defendants in a personal injury case are those that allegedly caused another person harm. Like plaintiffs, a personal injury case can include one or many defendants. Defendants are not required to prove they did not cause the accident, as the burden of proof lies with the plaintiffs. Still, defendants can present evidence that shows they were not liable for the accident or that casts doubt on the plaintiff’s claim.
How to Prove a Personal Injury Claim
If you are filing a negligence personal injury claim, you must prove that another person’s negligence caused an accident that resulted in your injuries. Many people think that they must prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt, but that is the standard of proof necessary in criminal cases. In a personal injury case, however, the burden of proof is a preponderance of the evidence. This means that you must only prove the defendant likely caused the accident that resulted in injuries. To do this, you must present evidence, which can include photos, videos, police report, medical records, and more.
Damages Available in Injury Claims
Accident victims file personal injury claims to recover damages for their losses. No one can determine how much a case is worth without first fully evaluating the facts of the case. The damages available in a case will depend on the seriousness of the injury, the medical treatment required, how much time from work a person misses, and whether they suffered a permanent disfigurement as a result of the accident.
The damages available in a personal injury claim are classified as either economic or non-economic. Economic damages are those that have an actual dollar value, such as medical expenses, lost income, and loss of future earning capacity. Non-economic damages do not have an actual dollar value and include losses such as pain, suffering and permanent disfigurement.
Punitive damages are also sometimes available in personal injury cases. Unlike economic and non-economic damages, punitive damages are not meant to compensate you for your losses. Instead, they are meant to punish the defendant for grossly negligent behavior and to deter them from acting in the same way again.
Comparative Fault in Personal Injury Claims
One of the most common defenses used by defendants in personal injury claims is that the accident victim caused or contributed to the accident. This is known as comparative fault. If a defendant is successful in proving comparative fault, it could hurt your claim. New York follows a pure comparative fault model, which means that even if you were 99 percent at fault for the accident, you can still claim damages. However, any damages you are awarded will be reduced by your same percentage of fault.
Time Limit on Personal Injury Claims
Under New York’s statute of limitations, you only have a limited amount of time to file your negligence personal injury claim. In most personal injury cases, the statute of limitations in New York is three years from the date of your accident. Certain types of claims, however, such as medical malpractice, are governed by a different statute of limitations. For instance, medical malpractice claims have a statute of limitations of 2 ½ years. Issues may also arise that delay the statute of limitations or that pause it for a specific period of time.
Although the statute of limitations seems fairly straightforward, it is imperative to speak to a personal injury lawyer who can advise on how much time you have to file. If you do not file your claim before the statute of limitations expires, you will lose the right to claim any damages.
Get Legal Help Today
At Silberstein, Awad & Miklos, P.C., our experienced New York personal injury lawyers are here to talk to you about your claim and help you through the legal process. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation so we can review your case.