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What Is Personal Injury?
Personal injury can be legally defined as any physical (bodily), mental or emotional (psychological) harm that has been experienced by a person. Personal injury therefore does not include any damage to property.
The injury is usually caused by the direct actions, inaction or negligence of a third party. In U.S. law, a person can enter a claim to seek compensation from a party who can be found to be responsible in some way for causing the injury. There are two ways in which compensation can be sought:
1. A Settlement Agreement
A settlement agreement is reached out of court where both parties agree to a monetary or other types of compensation. This settlement agreement means that the injured party will not be able to enter a lawsuit at a later date to receive future compensation for the injury should long-term or unforeseen issues arise as a result of the injury. It is important to ensure that the settlement agreement covers all current and future medical and other costs that may be related to the injury.
It is highly recommended to only enter into a settlement agreement for a personal injury on the advice of a lawyer who will provide representation throughout the negotiation of the settlement. This will ensure that a fair settlement is reached that compensates the injured party fairly. Kenneth S. Nugent P.C. Attorneys At Law have an experienced team who are skilled at negotiating personal injury settlement agreements.
2. A Lawsuit
A lawsuit is a civil legal case where monetary or financial compensation is sought for bodily or psychological injury in a court of law. The person who brings the lawsuit is called the plaintiff and the 3rd party being sued is called the respondent.
Evidence must be presented to the court of law of the physical or psychological injury that was sustained as well as proof of how the respondent in the matter is responsible for the injury and therefore liable for paying compensation to the plaintiff. The plaintiff will also need to enter the amount of compensation that they seek in the matter.
A judge will hear the case and make a decision as to whether the respondent is liable and the amount of compensation that should be awarded to the plaintiff. In most cases, a lawsuit is only sought when an agreement cannot be reached in a settlement or where the respondent feels that they cannot be held liable.
While court cases for small claims may be decided very quickly, lawsuits can often be long, drawn out affairs that can become very expensive very quickly. Respondents often have have insurance for personal injury suits that provide legal representation. This legal representation will use legal tactics to either win the case or to reach a state where the plaintiff can no longer afford to continue with the lawsuit.
It is critical to get legal advice and representation from an experienced Valdosta personal injury attorney. The attorney will assess the case and determine what claims the plaintiff may have against the third party, what amount they should be suing for and whether there is sufficient evidence that the respondent will be found liable. Contact Kenneth S. Nugent P.C. Attorneys at Law to assess your personal injury case.
There are basically two types of compensation that can be sought in a personal injury case – compensatory and punitive damages.
Compensatory damages include any expenses or financial losses that the plaintiff experienced as a direct result of the personal injury and commonly include:
Medical Expenses – These include all doctor’s bills, costs for medications as well as treatments/procedures that were received for the injury in question. It is important to keep all medical bills, records and other documentation to provide evidence in court of the injuryinjuries that were sustained.
Future Medical Care – If the injured party will need to receive ongoing medical treatment or treatments in the future, these costs can be included in the lawsuit. It is very important to have an experienced lawyer to assess and calculate fair compensation for future medical claims.
Loss of Income – A plaintiff can sue for loss of income that resulted in an inability to work and earn an income for a limited period of time, where they lost their job due to the injury or where the injury prevented them from performing tasks that led to a reduction in income. Even if a plaintiff missed only one day of work for which they were not paid, they can sue for loss of income. Loss of future earnings can also be included in a lawsuit – for example where the plaintiff was disabled by the injury and will not be able to earn an income in the future.
Additional Expenses – Should any additional expenses arise from the personal injury, these can also be included in a lawsuit. For example, if the plaintiff was unable to pay for household expenses due to the loss of income, they can claim compensation for these expenses.
Cancelled or Altered Plans – Compensation can be claimed where an injury resulted in plans needing to be cancelled or changed and resulted in a financial loss for the plaintiff. For example, the costs from a cancelled future vacation can form part of the lawsuit.
Pain and Suffering/Mental Anguish – Emotional side effects stemming from a personal injury can form part of a personal injury claim. However, it must be proven that the pain and suffering or mental anguish suffered is directly related to the physical or bodily injury. It can be far more difficult to prove these two types of damages and be awarded compensation in a court of law.
Punitive damages are awarded at the discretion of the court and involve wrongdoing or bad behavior by the respondent that led to the bodily/psychological harm of the plaintiff. These types of damages are normally awarded over and above compensatory damages and are basically a financial punishment or penalty for the respondent to pay for their behavior.
People are often most familiar with personal injury cases resulting from car accidents. The reason for this is that car accidents result in more personal injury lawsuits than any other cause. However, there are many other ways in which personal injuries can be sustained and compensation claimed in a court of law. Kenneth S. Nugent P.C. Attorneys at Law are experts at handling all the most common and the more rare causes of personal injuries including:
Car Accidents – Georgia is an “at fault” state which means that the driver responsible for causing the accident is liable for compensating the other driver for personal injury and property damages. However, the proportionate comparative rule also applies. If both drivers are found to be partially at fault for the accident, they will be liable for the portion or percentage of blame assigned to them. It is extremely important to get advice from an expert car accident attorney in order to assess proportionate comparative fault.
Slip And Fall Injuries – These are another common personal injury that result in thousands of lawsuits every year in the United States. Property owners and tenants are responsible for keeping their property reasonably safe in order to prevent any person entering the property from injury. If an injury does occur on their property, the owner or tenant is liable for any personal injury damages. However, slip and fall injury cases can vary in the type of injuries that compensation can be claimed for as well as the type of liability for the owner. It is therefore recommended to get a personal injury lawyer after a slip and fall injury.
Assault – This is the one instance of personal injury law where the actions of a person intentionally caused injury to another person and where no accident or neglect is the cause. There is often a criminal element to these cases and injured parties can pursue both compensation for damages in a civil court as well as press criminal charges. However, one case may have nothing to do with the other and even if the defendant is found guilty of the assault in criminal court, the conviction may not be used to determine liability in civil court. It is important to have an expert attorney provide advice in the pursuit of both criminal charges and a personal injury lawsuit.
Medical Malpractice – Medical malpractice lawsuits are more common than most people would believe. However, because these cases are often settled instead of resulting in a court case, they are not as well known. A lawsuit can be brought against a medical practitioner in the event that a treatment, medication or other procedure that they provided resulted in physical or bodily harm to a patient. These cases can be extremely complicated and it is highly recommended to call Kenneth S. Nugent P.C. Law Firm for legal advice and representation.
Defamation – Also called slander or libel, defamation does not involve a physical or bodily injury but rather harm to the character of an individual. There are two aspects that need to be proved in a defamation case. First, that a false statement was made and that it was defamatory in nature. Secondly that it resulted in actual harm to the character of a person resulting in financial loss of some kind. In some cases, such as with public figures or celebrities, actual malice also needs to be proven. This means that the statement must have been made with the intent to do harm or with a total disregard of the consequences of making the statement. Defamation cases are probably the most difficult to prove and therefore it is advisable to have legal representation.
Dog Bites – Dog owners are responsible for keeping their pets secure and preventing them from posing a threat to the general public. If a dog bite does occur, either on the dog owner’s property or outside of the property, the owner is liable for the resulting personal injury damages. These cases are most commonly based on proving negligence by the dog owner rather than intent or accident. In some cases, intent can be proven where the owner commanded a dog to attack a person resulting in bodily harm.
Workers’ Compensation – An employer is held liable for injuries to employees while at work. However, employers normally have insurance against these types of claims which are referred to as Workers’ Compensation. It is therefore the insurance company that often decides whether a claim will be paid and how much is paid. In the event that a claim is denied or does not provide adequate compensation, call a Workers’ Compensation Lawyer to get advice on how to get paid for the personal injury.
Nursing Home Violations – This is where a personal injury is sustained by a person in charge of caring for another in an environment such a nursing home or care facility. In these cases, the injury could be of a physical nature but could also involve manipulation of a nursing home resident for financial reward. Criminal charges may form part of this type of personal injury claim where physical harm can be charged as assault or where financial losses ensued, fraud. These matters need to be investigated in depth in order to provide evidence of the personal injury or financial loss and whether the person involved and/or the nursing home should be held liable.
These are just some of the types of personal injury cases that Kenneth S. Nugent P.C. Law Firm deals with on a daily basis. Our team of expert attorneys have over 350 years of experience between them to provide the best legal representation possible in any personal injury case. Apart from drawing on the skills of our large team, we also have a pool of resources at our disposal to assist in representing even the most complicated cases.
If you have been injured physically or mentally and feel that another person should be liable for compensating you for the damages that you have experienced, give Kenneth S. Nugent, P.C. Attorneys at Law a call today and find out how we can help you.
Kenneth S. Nugent, P.C.
2935 N Ashley St #127
Valdosta, GA 31602