If you’ve been injured in a car accident, you may not know what to do next. How are you going to pay for your medical bills? Who’s going to pay to repair or replace your vehicle? How are you going to make ends meet when you’ve had to take time off from work in order to heal?
You may go online to try to find answers. In your search results, you’ll probably see websites for “car accident claim” or “car accident case.” But you’ll also probably see a less familiar term: “personal injury.”
What is a personal injury claim? A person has a potential personal injury claim if they’ve suffered an injury as a direct result of the negligence of someone else.
Attorneys specialize in certain kinds of law the way doctors specialize in certain kinds of medicine. If you’re looking for legal help with your personal injury claim, you’ll have to find a personal injury attorney.
The following types of cases all fall under the umbrella of personal injury because they involve a person injured because of the negligence of someone else. If you’ve been injured in a similar circumstance, a personal injury lawyer may be able to help.
Perhaps the most common type of personal injury claim is a car accident claim. However, most car accidents actually result in two different types of claims: property damage and personal injury.
In a property damage claim, you’re trying to get compensation for damage done to your vehicle and other items in your possession that may have been damaged in the accident. These items may include your cell phone, a car seat, or maybe a pair of sunglasses.
Typically, you don’t need an attorney for your property damage claim. Your car is worth what it’s worth, and you can’t negotiate very much with the insurance company.
However, it’s important to keep your property damage claim separate from your personal injury claim, because your personal injury claim is negotiable. Your car has a fairly fixed value, but how much is your pain and suffering worth? How do you calculate how the loss of a limb or the loss of mobility from a car accident will affect the rest of your life? These are questions that a personal injury attorney can help answer.
You can only accept one settlement for your personal injury claim, which is why it’s important to know the extent of your injuries and expenses before ever agreeing to a settlement offer from the insurance company. This is also another reason why you should keep your property damage claim and your personal injury claim separate; you want your property damage claim resolved quickly without much negotiation so you can repair or replace your car as soon as possible, but you want to take your time with your personal injury claim and possibly seek legal assistance to determine whether or not the settlement offer is reasonable concerning the extent of your injuries.
Semi Truck Accidents
Semi truck accidents are different from car accidents because they usually involve more severe injuries and damages, and there are more parties from which you may seek recovery. Still, semi truck accidents are considered personal injury cases.
In a car accident, you’re seeking compensation from your own insurance company or the insurance company of the at-fault driver. In a semi truck accident, you can potentially seek compensation from:
- The truck driver
- The trucking company
- The company that loaded the truck
- The company in charge of maintaining the truck
- The truck manufacturer
Semi truck drivers and companies are also subject to different regulations than drivers of regular passenger vehicles. A skilled personal injury attorney will know what those regulations are and will be able to determine who should be held responsible if those regulations were not adhered to.
Motorcycle accident claims are yet another type of personal injury claim. Motorcycle accidents tend to be different from car accidents because the injuries to the motorcyclist are typically much more severe than the injuries to a driver enclosed in a vehicle with more safety features available. However, an experienced personal injury lawyer can handle a motorcycle accident claim just as well as a car accident claim.
It’s easy to see how various automotive accidents all fall under the category of personal injury, but it may be surprising that premises liability claims are personal injury claims as well.
Remember, an incident has the potential to be a personal injury claim if someone was injured due to the negligence of someone else. In a premises liability claim, someone has been injured because the business owner or property owner neglected to create a safe environment for the guest, customer, or even trespasser in certain circumstances.
Perhaps the most common type of premises liability case is a slip and fall accident. This occurs when a person slips and falls and gets hurt because the person whose duty it was to create a safe environment neglected their responsibility.
This means that if you slip and fall because of your own clumsiness, you don’t have a potential personal injury claim. But if you slip and fall because someone neglected to put salt down on an icy sidewalk, for example, or left spilled jelly in the aisle after they knew it was there without putting up any warning signs, you may have a potential personal injury claim.
Product liability is another subset of personal injury law. You may have a product liability case if you were injured because a dangerous drug, device, or product did not meet certain safety standards or was not adequately labeled with specific warnings.
Many product liability cases center on dangerous drugs with adverse side effects that weren’t disclosed to doctors or patients by the drug manufacturers. These personal injury claims often are grouped into mass tort claims where individuals can sue a giant company for similar damages all at once and receive individual settlement amounts that correspond to their specific level of damages.
Perhaps the most independent subset of personal injury, medical malpractice law is so robust that some consider it separate from personal injury altogether. However, medical malpractice is still based on the same principle as the other practice areas we’ve discussed: the idea that a person has been injured due to the negligence of another. Because of this, a medical malpractice claim is still technically a personal injury claim.
In a medical malpractice claim, the person who was negligent is typically a doctor, nurse, medical professional, or healthcare institution such as a hospital. Medical malpractice cases have different laws that affect them, such as Indiana’s medical malpractice cap that limits noneconomic and economic damages to at most $1.65 million regardless of whether the jury believes the plaintiff deserves more.
Because medical malpractice claims are so nuanced, many law firms brand themselves specifically as medical malpractice attorneys. However, most personal injury attorneys still take medical malpractice cases.
Nursing Home Abuse
Nursing home abuse can be hard to categorize. In some ways, it’s a premises liability issue if the institution neglected to create a safe environment for the senior living there. However, it can also get tied up with medical malpractice if it was a nurse or medical professional at the nursing home whose negligence or abuse injured the victim.
No matter how you categorize it, nursing home abuse still falls under the umbrella of personal injury. If you think you may have a nursing home abuse claim, a personal injury attorney should be able to help.
How Personal Injury Claims Are Resolved
Personal injury claims are often settled out of court in an informal setting with the help of a personal injury attorney. The personal injury lawyer negotiates with the insurance company on your behalf and can give you legal advice for whether or not a settlement offer is reasonable.
Informal negotiations can continue typically for up to two years before you run the risk of the statute of limitations running out on your case. The statute of limitations limits the amount of time you have to file a lawsuit and seek legal recourse for your injuries. In most personal injury cases, you have two years from the date of the accident or the date at which you became aware of your injuries to file a claim.
If a settlement cannot be reached before the statute of limitations runs out on your case, or if negotiations aren’t working, you can then choose to file a lawsuit and prepare for trial. Settlement negotiations can continue as you prepare for court, so you may still avoid taking your case to trial. However, if no settlement is reached, your case will be brought before a judge and jury and the verdict will determine whether or not you receive a settlement and the amount of that settlement if the jury finds in your favor.
Help from an Indiana Personal Injury Attorney
In all of these different kinds of cases, you may benefit from the experience and skill of a personal injury attorney to make sure you get the compensation you deserve. If you think you might have a personal injury claim, Hensley Legal Group can help. Call us today or contact us online for a free case review.