Personal Injury law is the general field of law that deals with the physical, mental, emotional and financial injuries sustained by people as the result of another’s negligent, reckless, and/or intentional misconduct. Most personal injury cases fall within the purview of “tort law” and have 3 basic elements:
- The person causing the injury must owe a “duty of care” to the person who is injured. In most contexts, the duty of care is quite simply to act as reasonable persons would under the same or similar circumstances.
- The person causing the injury must violate the “duty of reasonable care” to the injured party.
- The breach of duty must result in injuries which are reasonably attributable to the misconduct. This is known as “proximate causation” of damages.
If you and/or a loved one have been the victim of a personal injury, there are several things you should do to help yourself and preserve your claim for compensation. The first priority is of course to seek proper medical attention and follow up with all appropriate recommendations for treatment. It is usually helpful to start a diary/journal to keep track of your treatment, record your appointments, and the instructions of medical care providers, as well as the names and addresses of all medical care providers. By making journal/diary entries, most people/patients seem benefitted by the focus required to describe and own the effects of injuries as they relate to all aspects of their well-being, including relations with family, employers, and friends, while avoiding the denial that sometimes masquerades as hope, which causes injuries to get beyond all manner of control and creates crises.
You also need to report the incident to the proper authorities and your insurance company. If the injury is serious and you suspect you will need to seek compensation for the injury, you should speak with an attorney as soon as possible to discuss what role you should take in investigating the incident, preserving evidence, talking with insurance representatives, and to make sure your rights are protected. Certainly do not sign anything until you have it reviewed by a lawyer.
Please remember - - insurance companies which spend millions on daily advertisements to convince you they are acting out of altruistic motives, frankly are in business to save, not spend money. Indeed, many insurance companies have extensive programs and plans to cajole injured people into believing “we will take care of everything - - you don’t need a lawyer,” until the injured person has effectively lost control over his/her treatment plan, paying the bills, and other medical, personal, and financial obligations. In fact, many clients have come to us in desperation, only after a year of being “strung along,” and having lost the opportunity for meaningful medical care, with their finances in ruins, only because they thought the insurance company would “take care of them,” while failing to recognize that insurance companies owe financial obligations to shareholders to save every penny when paying claims.
Even if you are uncertain about whether you will file a claim for compensation, you need to be careful with whom you speak about the incident and what you say. Unfortunately, the old saying from criminal law, “everything you say can and will be used against you,” applies. Therefore, as a general rule it is best to avoid any discussion with strangers or insurance representatives until after you have consulted with a lawyer. Indeed, you should avoid giving any statements to insurance company representatives while you are not represented by counsel, as they are well aware of your inexperience in evaluating injury claims and they may attempt to exploit this lack of experience.
As with any legal matter, there are specific deadlines and time limitations (known as the “statute of limitations”) for filing a Personal Injury claim, and therefore, we encourage you to call as soon as possible if you or a loved one has sustained an injury as the result of another’s negligent, reckless, or intentional misconduct.