After you have been injured, you have a lot of thoughts racing through your mind. How long will it take to recover? What about your job? How will I be able to afford all of my treatments? Will I still be able to do the things I love?
Being injured due to someone else’s recklessness or negligence is even more upsetting, because you couldn’t prevent your injuries from occurring. In these situations, you should consider filing a personal injury claim. Don’t be deterred by your lack of knowledge about how to file a claim. We’ve put together an overview about everything you should know about personal injury cases.
You may be unsure of whether or not your accident qualifies as a personal injury case. There are numerous different types of personal injury accidents.
Some of the most common include:
- Car accidents
- Truck accidents
- Motorcycle accidents
- Medical malpractice
- Product liability
- Workplace accidents
- Wrongful death
In short, any accident during which you are injured due to the actions of another individual would qualify as a personal injury case.
Depending on the type of case, the severity of the accident, and additional circumstances, the damages that you can recover vary.
Damages refer to the compensation you can get for your losses in an accident. This could be injury, property damage, or other intangible losses.
There are three main types of damages you can receive in a personal injury claim.
Economic damages cover the financial losses that occurred due to the accident.
This would include:
- Medical bills
- Lost wages
- Property damage
- Anticipated medical costs
Economic damages are the easiest to calculate, because they have a set value. If you were out of work for the year and lost $40,000, you can seek $40,000 in your claim.
These are the intangible costs associated with your accident.
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Loss of consortium
- Decreased quality of life
These costs are harder to quantify, but are equally important. A traumatic accident can have a major impact on your ability to move forward emotionally, even long after you have physically healed.
You may be wondering, how do you calculate the value of these damages? One of the most common methods used is the multiplier method. Using this formula, you take the total sum of your economic damages and multiply it by 1-5x. The end result would be how much you seek for non-economic damages.
For example, say that your total economic losses were valued at $100,000. Then, multiply this by 1-5 depending on the severity of the accident. Let’s say that this hypothetical accident was worth a 4. Thus, your pain and suffering could be valued at $400,000.
Punitive damages aren’t meant to cover losses from the accident. Instead, these are additional payments meant to punish the person at fault. This is common in cases where the at-fault party was acting out of malice or extreme recklessness. For example, a drunk driver who causes an accident may be required to pay punitive damages.
An additional purpose of punitive damages is to deter others from engaging in similar behavior by putting an additional financial burden on the at-fault individual.
In some cases, you may share the responsibility for the accident. However, if the other party was at least partially at fault, can you still seek compensation?
Kansas uses a comparative fault rule for personal injury cases. This means that as long as you were less than 50% responsible for the accident, you can file a claim and seek compensation. However, the amount that you can get will decrease based on your level of fault.
Let’s say that it’s determined that you were 20% at fault for the accident, and the total damages added up to $100,000. Because you were partially at fault, the maximum amount of compensation you can receive is 20% less than the total cost of damages. In this case, the maximum amount you may get is $80,000. If you are over 50% at fault, you cannot collect any compensation.
Evidence plays a critical role in a personal injury case. These cases often result in conflicting reports of events, so having solid evidence will help prove the truth of what happened. Some of the first evidence you should collect is photographs of the scene of the accident.
As long as you are physically able, take pictures of:
- Your injuries
- The other party’s insurance information if it is a vehicle accident
- The scene of the accident from different angles
- Any property damage
You should not rely on your memory in these instances. In fact, research has found that in stressful situations (like an accident), the human brain has an even harder time forming accurate memories.
Other documentation to collect includes:
- Medical paperwork
- Insurance forms
- Bills for additional damages
- Incident reports
- Employment records if you are seeking compensation for lost wages
Additionally, if you have a journal where you have tracked how you are feeling emotionally after an accident, this can help prove your pain and suffering.
Because of the complexity of a personal injury case and the amount of money being sought after, these cases can take months to years.
This can be frustrating, as we know that you want to move forward past your accident as quickly as possible. One way to help speed up the process is to work with a personal injury attorney.
Personal injury lawyers have the experience and expertise needed to get you the best possible case outcome. Insurance companies are quick to offer low settlements because they know you want to move on. However, working with a personal injury lawyer can help ensure you get the highest amount possible. It is estimated that individuals who have a PI attorney on their side get about 3x more money from their claim.
Not only can a lawyer help ensure you get the most compensation possible, but they can also help you with the organization and communication for your claim. You can focus on healing while your attorney:
- Talks to the insurance companies
- Collects evidence
- Organizes necessary documentation
- Ensures all necessary steps are taken in the claim process
If you are thinking about filing a personal injury claim, it’s best to have legal representation to guide you through the process and fight for you to get the compensation you deserve.
In Kansas, you have two years from the date of the accident to file a personal injury lawsuit. After that, you will not be able to seek compensation for your damages. Two years may feel like a long time, but it goes quickly! Get started today with DiPasquale Moore. We are happy to conduct a free case review.