Finance and Law

Personal Injury Lawsuits: What You Need to Know

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If you believe you suffered on injury due to the negligence of another person or entity, you have the right to pursue compensation. It is important to meet with an attorney as soon as possible so he can evaluate your situation and determine if you have a legitimate case. Like any area of law, personal injury suits can be complex and there is a lot you need to know. Here are some basics to get you started.

Finding a Lawyer

Your personal injury case will only be as strong as your legal representation. Personal injury lawyers are particularly heavy on the advertising and you will find no shortage of them willing to take on your case. But, you must proceed with caution. Do not just go with the person who has the flashiest advertisement and the most enticing promises of success. Use referral services with caution as the criteria for getting listed often has nothing to do with actual experience or knowledge—it simply comes down to having paid a listing fee. It is probably a good idea to look into local personal injury attorneys since they will be the most familiar with local laws, regulations and the like. This area of law is vast, and you want a lawyer with specific experience in your type of injury. If you believe you have a case for medical malpractice, you do not want a lawyer who focuses primarily on car accidents.

Determining the Worth of a Case

If an attorney believes you have a legitimate claim, the first question that runs through your head is most likely ‘’how much is my case worth?’’ There is really no cut and dry answer for that. An experienced personal injury attorney can probably give some rough figures based on previous cases similar to yours. Essentially, insurance companies have a general formula where they multiply a base number –which is simply the cost of medical expenses—by anywhere from 1.5 to 10, depending on the severity of the injury. Then, lost income is added. Factors that influence that multiple include severity of the injury, whether you will be able to work in the future, psychological damage, loss of enjoyment, affect on personal relationships—losing sexual function for example, and other intangibles.

Role of Fault

How the role of fault affects your case will depend on where you live. In a small number of states, your degree of fault has no bearing on the case, while in another small number, any degree of fault means you are not permitted to pursue damages. Most states, however, do take fault into account to some degree and this can impact damages. In most cases, you must be found to be no more than 50 percent at fault to receive financial compensation. Your degree of fault will be subtracted from the amount that your case is deemed to be worth. When it comes to fault, the actual injury is not the only thing to be considered. If after the accident you engaged in behaviors that worsened the injury or you failed to follow doctor’s orders regarding treatments, medications, and the like, this will also be considered.

About the Author: Kelli Cooper is a freelance writer who blogs about all things law.

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