Personal InjuryFrequently Asked Questions
General Information about Personal Injury
There are various ways that Personal Injury may result. Personal Injury may be caused by defective or dangerous consumer goods, motor vehicle accidents, slips and falls or even animal attacks. Personal Injury attorneys are experienced with recognizing the strengths and weaknesses of your case. They know before you pursue legal action if you have a potential case and what would be needed to make it stronger. Personal Injury attorneys work the experts in various areas that assist with intelligently investigating the technical and medical aspects of your case as well as investigators to complete all the details. Competent Personal Injury attorneys make certain all investigations in your case are completed to ensure everything is done precisely and correctly. If there is any possibility that you or a loved one was involved in a Personal Injury accident, it is imperative to contact a reliable Personal Injury attorney as soon as possible to guarantee all possible supporting evidence is acquired quickly.
Frequently Asked Questions
What to do if in case of injury or accident
What to do if in case of injury or accident
1. STOP. If you see or are involved in an automobile collision, or see an accident or injury, stop. Leaving the scene of an accident, even a minor one, without first stopping to see whether there are damages or injuries is required in most states. Leaving the scene of an automobile accident may be criminally prosecuted. Even if you are not involved, you may be a key witness to the incident.
2. CHECK FOR INJURIES. You should not move an injured person unless there is eminent danger. If you are injured, do not move. If necessary, have someone call the 911. If you are unable to call, ensure someone else makes the call to 911, as they will ensure the police and proper emergency personnel respond to the scene.
3. WARN. If possible, turning on hazard lights, raise the hood or trunk of the vehicle or set our flares to notify oncoming traffic to proceed with caution.
4. EXCHANGE INFORMATION. If you are a witness, provide your name and phone number to the police. They will provide it to proper insurance companies. You may or may not provide information to the drivers in the accident. If you are in the accident, you and the other driver need to exchange names, addresses, phone numbers, drivers license numbers, license plate numbers, insurance carriers, policy numbers, and your insurance agent’s name and telephone numbers.
5. OTHER WITNESS INFORMATION. Obtain identifying information from any witnesses to the accident, and ask them to provide the same information to the police.
6. TAKE NOTES. Write down as much as you remember about the accident-where and how it occurred, what the road and weather conditions were, the speed limits, if there was a stop sign or stop/caution light, what the lighting conditions were (time of day, were street lights on, etc.), and what the automobiles were doing when the accident happened. You may be required to share these notes with the other party if you enter into litigation.
7. NEVER TAKE THE BLAME. Regardless of who is at fault, do not say anything regarding blame. There may be other factors you are unaware of that may have caused the accident. An admission of guilt may be used against you later on.
8. COOPERATE WITH POLICE. Stay at the accident scene until the police tell you that you can leave. Tell the police only the facts of what happened, and do not assume anything or read any information into the facts. Again, do not acknowledge any responsibility to anyone, including people in your vehicle, the other vehicle, witnesses or police. It is not always simple to determine the legal matter of responsibility or liability. Do provide the police of any injuries and witnesses. The police officer that takes the report should provide you with a business card and the “incident number,” so that you can obtain an accident report. If he doesn’t offer it, ask for it.
9. CALL YOUR INSURANCE AGENT. It is important to notify your insurance agent right away, whether you are at fault or not. There is always a chance the other driver is uninsured or underinsured. Your insurance agent may ask you to provide the notes you have taken, information from the other driver, and police report information. Do not give recorded statements to any insurance company or meet with any insurance agents without consulting your Personal Injury lawyer first.
10. PHOTOGRAPH. Take pictures of the accident scene (even one or two days afterwards, preferably about the same time as the accident-if the accident was at night, also take pictures of the scene during the day). Also, take pictures of your injuries and the damages to your car.
11. CONTACT A PERSONAL INJURY ATTORNEY. Before filling out any insurance documents, giving recorded statements to any insurance company, or meeting with any insurance company representative, call us. Consultation is extremely important before giving a statement to the other driver’s insurance company. Do not sign any check or document from any insurance company without first consulting an experienced Personal Injury attorney. NOTE: ALWAYS be honest with your insurance company. Not doing so may cause your policy to be invalidated.
12. CONSULT A PHYSICIAN ASAP. It is possible that you may not know the full extent of your injuries at the time of the accident. Various injuries may not be evident until some time later. If you do not see a doctor, it is possible to risk aggravating your injury by delaying your treatment. Even trifling soreness may be an indicator of a more significant injury. If there is any chance you may have been injured, it is safer to see a physician as soon as possible to rule out any unseen injuries.
Insurance companies have argued that individuals that fail to see a physician right away have injuries that must have resulted from an event or events that happened after the accident. The longer you wait, the more difficult it is to connect unseen injuries to the accident.
Things to look out for and to report are many. They include, but are not limited to things like dizziness, memory loss, confusion, disorientation, nausea, headaches, blood (in any natural bodily opening) or even ringing in your ears.
13. REVIEW. Review the notes you have taken at the accident within a few days. Check to ensure that all important information is included.
14. DOCUMENT. Document every item that has to do with the accident. This means recording or documenting every conversation, every phone call that you have with your Personal Injury attorney, your doctor AND any insurance company in relation to your accident including the date, time and name of the person or people that you spoke to as well as their job titles and their supervisor’s names. Keep track of all medical bills and transportation costs, estimated future medical treatment, wages lost due to the accident, and wages that may be lost in the future due to the accident. Your Personal Injury lawyer will also review with you the effect the accident had on your life and your family. Your Personal Injury lawyer will also help you identify any other possible losses that may be associated to your accident.
There are statutes in many jurisdictions which make the attempt of crimes like robbery or murder a crime. These statutes are intended to punish individuals who have demonstrated the intent to commit a crime, regardless of whether that crime occurred. Conviction for an attempted crime requires the government to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the person charged had the intent to commit the crime or create a situation that would amount to that crime, and that the person took steps beyond merely preparing to commit the crime.
Injuries Due to Motor Vehicles
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), someone in the United States is involved in a car accident every 10 seconds. Motor vehicle injury is the prevalent type of case involving Personal Injury. Six states, including Iowa, make the owner of the vehicle responsible for all damages, whether or not the negligent driver has assets or insurance to pay a judgment. One of the greatest sources of civil litigation in the United States is Negligence. Negligence is described as the “failure to exercise the care toward others which a reasonable or prudent person would do in the circumstances, or taking action which such a reasonable person would not. Negligence is accidental…but a crime can also constitute negligence, such as reckless driving. Negligence can result in all types of accidents causing physical and/or property damage,” according to the free legal dictionary online. It is VERY important to contact a Personal Injury lawyer as soon as possible if you have been injured in an accident you have not caused. It is also very important to call your insurance company no matter whom or what caused the accident.
Avoiding an Accident
There are many factors involved today in trying to avoid accidents. Much more now than in the past, it is imperative to beware of aggressive, drunk or reckless drivers in addition to standard cautions, such as road and weather conditions. It is important to be extremely cautious. If you are looking at these pages, more than likely you or someone you love has been in an accident and you are seeking information about accidents and Personal Injury lawyers. Reviewing the information on “What to do in case of an injury or accident” may be very beneficial to you. For more detailed information about avoiding an accident, please see the website for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
An experienced Personal Injury attorney knows the law in your state and reviews all the factors in your case, such as the police reports, and talks to the witnesses. Finding who is negligent in a traffic accident is crucial. You may believe you know exactly who or what was negligent, yet may not know which law has been violated. When going into litigation, judges review several factors in determining the requirements that place negligence. All of these factors are known by Personal Injury attorneys, and they understand the importance of little details and will represent you well.
Uninsured or Underinsured Motorists
Although states require insurance on any automobile, many drivers cannot afford adequate insurance or let their insurance lapse and do not carry any insurance at all. Most states now require every driver to have insurance and to have liability insurance in case of an accident. Much too often, the required insurance is insufficient for most accidents when injuries occur. You may have insurance that has “Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist” coverage that will pay for bodily injury if the responsible party does not have the proper insurance to cover all of your damages or injuries. Contacting a competent Personal Injury lawyer as quickly as possible to ensure you are protected t is essential, particularly in the case of uninsured or underinsured motorists.
Hit and run accidents are also usually covered by your uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. In this case, your damages and expenses should be covered by your insurance company. DO NOT SETTLE with the other driver’s insurance company until you know every detail about what your damages and injuries will cost and review these with your own Personal Injury lawyer. Your underinsured motorist coverage may not provide compensation to pay for the amounts over and above the other driver’s insurance if you have settled with them. This is another important reason to contact and review everything with your own Personal Injury lawyer. Also remember that your insurance company will request a credit if you are paid over and above the reported benefits from the other driver’s insurance. This includes any stackable uninsured/underinsured insurance allowed by some states. The combination of insurance coverage from several policies or insurance coverage for several vehicles listed on one policy may apply.
Most do not have to learn or understand what No-Fault Insurance is all about. If you live or are traveling in the states of Florida, Kansas, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, you may be under a No-Fault Insurance Law. Some states, such as Colorado, repealed their No-Fault Insurance law and Florida’s law ends in 2006. Since the laws of the state in which the accident occurred determine which driver is responsible for which damages, this is another reason to contact a Personal Injury lawyer as soon as possible to ensure your rights are protected.
There are several types of No-Fault Insurance Laws. In some states, neither driver is considered at fault and each one generally submits claims to their own insurance. Other places, such as Canada, have limits on the ability to file suit for damages. If your damages are above a certain amount, you may file suit. In the United States, there is not a pure no-fault insurance where no one is to blame for any accident. At least two states, Pennsylvania and New Jersey, have “Choice No-Fault Insurance.” If you are in an accident with someone who has this type of insurance in that state and they have this insurance, you can not file suit against them and they can not file suite against you. Due to the variety of specific sections of the various laws, deciphering these laws may be complicated. Competent Personal Injury lawyers know these laws and are more qualified to assist you in the recovery of your losses.
Injuries Due to Products
If you have been injured when using a product was in a defective or dangerous condition when you purchased it, you may be able to recover damages from the manufacturer or seller in a products-liability-based Personal Injury suit. The law on this is based on the responsibility of a manufacturer or other provider of goods to ensure they are providing safe products for the consumer. They will compensate users of the goods for injuries caused by defective or dangerous products if it is proven that placed them into the buyer’s hands, making them accountable. Injured persons can be advised by competent Personal Injury lawyers that will know whether they may have a claim against a product manufacturer or seller and may assist them in recovery of the damages to which they are legally entitled.
The “Product Liability” law governs the liability of the manufacturer (or other provider) for products that injure anyone that uses them. This includes both manufacturers and dealers, as they are the ones that are in the best position to ensure the safety of their products. Any product produced and sold that has been determined to be dangerous leads these to be held accountable for consequential injuries. In order to find if it is the manufacturer or dealer that is responsible for an injury, it is best to consult a knowledgeable, experienced Personal Injury lawyer. It is the Personal Injury lawyer that should advise anyone on whether or not a claim against a product provider should be filed as they have the experience and ability to assist clients in obtaining settlements to recover the compensation to which they are legally entitled.
The Plaintiff’s Burden in a Dangerous or Defective Product Personal Injury Case
Simply claiming a product was defective in design or production is not adequate for a product liability action. It has to be proven by the plaintiff that the manufacturer was at fault and the product caused the injuries. This includes that the product was used as intended by the manufacturer or the manufacturer should have been able to predict that the product could be “misused” and a warning should have been established in the literature or packaging of the product. The product’s possible dangers are the manufacturer’s responsibility. It is the plaintiff’s responsibility to prove the product was the cause of the injuries with credible evidence. Design defects are much more difficult to prove. It often requires expert testimony and proof that the entire product line is subject to having the same defect, causing unreasonable hazards. Showing that the product was the single cause of the injuries may be complicated. If more than one cause is possible, it must be proven that the product defect was the main reason for the injuries.
Injuries Due to Slips/Falls
Injuries incurred on other’s property may be the legal responsibility of the owners or occupiers of the property. Depending on the rules and principles in the jurisdiction where the injury occurred, liability for damages including lost wages and medical bills, as well as pain and suffering may be recovered. A competent Personal Injury lawyer knows the Premises Liability Laws and will able to determine if damages due to an injury caused by a slip or fall may be sought. Common causes of slips and falls include ice and snow, spilled liquid, uneven stairs and broken steps. Slips and falls are usually complex. There are several legal issues and complications that need to be addressed. Personal Injury attorneys with premises liability experience are best qualified to advise you on your rights and the possibility to obtain positive outcomes in slip and fall cases.
No matter how a person ended up on your property, you may be liable for an injury. It doesn’t matter if you invited someone onto your property (an invitee), someone comes onto your property with your permission for their own purposes (a licensee) or someone comes on without any permission (a trespasser). Owners are required to warn others of possible dangers, even trespassers, if it may be proven that you knew someone is likely to trespass on your property.
Premises Liability Laws in some states focus on the visitor’s status on the property.
Licensees need to be warned of hidden dangerous areas, and the owner may not necessarily need to have these areas fixed. Trespassers may recover damages if they may prove the owner knew others would enter his or her property without permission. Even though proper warning signs need not to be placed in the case of trespassers, it is still wise to do so in case children wander onto your property. Children that are injured on your property are more likely to recover damages, even if they are trespassers. This fact increases the property owner’s duty to warn in the case of children.
The condition of the property and activities of the owners, visitors and licensees are given consideration in some states. Reasonable care must be given to any visitor or licensees, but not to trespassers. Owners must continually inspect property and repair or place warnings on any dangerous conditions. The injured party must show neglect to the standard of reasonable upkeep by the owner to prove a premises liability case and prove the owner had knowledge of the danger. The injured party must also show that they took reasonable care for their own safety. It is very difficult to prove owners knew of dangers and that injured parties took reasonable care to avoid the danger.
Personal Injury Cases
When someone slips on a foreign substance or due to a dangerous condition, and injures themselves when falling, they have a slip and fall Personal Injury case. Common causes of these are icy sidewalks, often in front of a business, or grocery store slips on various food items that have fallen on the floor. Owners of the property may or may not be liable for the damages due to these injuries. Even though they have a duty to maintain the property and exercise reasonable care to protect their consumers and other visitors, conditions of the property should be easily perceptible, as the injured parties have a responsibility to protect themselves against injuries.
The owners or possessors of the property may also avoid liability by showing that the danger had occurred without reasonable opportunity for the owner or possessor to clean up or fix the condition before the injuries occurred. This time frame may vary in each individual case, and it is the injured party that has to establish that the owner or possessor of the property had a reasonable period of time in which to find out about the danger and to place a warning about it or fix the problem.
In any case of animal attack, a Personal Injury attorney is best suited to examine the details in order determine the possibilities of filing a lawsuit to obtain damages from injuries incurred. The laws in each state vary slightly and Personal Injury attorneys experienced in animal attacks understand the intricacies that will determine what is needed to prove negligence.
It is not only dogs that are involved in animal attacks, other animals, such as cats, birds and others, may also attack, causing injuries in which a pet owner may be liable. In addition, there are undomesticated animals, such as reptiles and large cats that can attack, causing liability for their owners. Animal attacks bring injuries ranging from scratches to severe disfigurement as well as the possibility of rabies and other infections. Victims, particularly children, may have severe psychological damage shown in an increased fear of the animal or the situation where the attack happened. Laws regarding animal attacks differ in various areas and states. Personal Injury Attorneys experienced in animal attacks provide accurate advice for individual situations.
Burden of Proof
The victim has two main things to prove in an animal attack. The first is who the owners and keepers of the animal(s) are, and secondly, that they were negligent. The owner may be negligent either by not restraining the animal properly or that they knew, or should have known it was possible for the animal to be dangerous. Victims may recover damages without proving the animal was previously dangerous if it was found that the owner was negligent by not having the animal properly restrained. If the owner knew of the potential danger of the animal to others and did not complete common sense precautions to prevent injuries to others, the owner may be found negligent under any circumstances. Uncontrollable animals must be secured away from the public. A person may be a victim from being frightened by an animal, causing a slip or fall, not being actually touched by the animal. This type of victim needs to be able to prove that the animal’s actions caused the injuries by its actions.
Owners of animals considered to be wild, including those in habitats, exhibits and zoos, are usually held strictly liable for any harm resulting from escaped animals. These animals may not be known to be normally dangerous while in captivity, yet it is recognized that they may return to behavior natural in the wild if they escape. If the animal is confined correctly on the owner’s property, the owner may not be liable due to a victim’s inappropriate actions that lead to an injury. A competent Personal Injury attorney will be able to assist in determining the owner’s liability, as each case is dependant on the various factors.
Provocation of animals in any way may lead to denial of any claim for injuries, particularly if they know the animal is dangerous or have been warned of possible danger. Trespassers also may not be able to obtain positive judgments in many states, particularly if there are warning signs on the property.
There are several items that are needed to prove legal responsibility for Personal Injury cases. These include that the owner and/or keeper of the animal knowingly failed to constrain the potentially dangerous animal and the injuries were due to this negligence. Victims also need to show the nature and extent of their physical and psychological injuries. It is still possible to receive some compensation even if there is a possibility the victim partially caused the injury. If a third party was responsible for the injuries, it is also possible in most states to receive compensation from them.
What is a Claim Worth?
In all Personal Injury cases, if manufacturers, property or animal owners or other responsible parties are found to be responsible, they will pay damages, which may include past and future medical expenses, lost wages, and property damages. Compensation is also paid for pain and suffering to the victim as well as to family members if the injury caused a death. Other financial awards may be determined also.
Why Hire a Personal Injury Lawyer | How Do I Choose The Best One For Me?
Victims of Personal Injury deserve the best settlements. In order to do this, having a qualified, experienced Personal Injury attorney is essential. Personal Injury lawyers come in all shapes and sizes and varied levels of experience. If you are injured, you need as much assistance as possible, and with the finest representation. Do not choose the first one you find in a phone book without reviewing their qualifications, finding out about their experience and checking out references. There are several main items to look for when searching for the Personal Injury attorney that best fits your situation.
Find out about their verdicts and settlements. What is their track record in cases such as yours? Someone who has great results with traffic accident victims may not have needed experience in animal attack cases. A Personal Injury attorney experienced with slips and falls may have a “winning” track record, yet may not have sufficient settlements.
Experience, assessment and investigations in your case are critical. The Personal Injury attorney you choose should be experienced in your type of claim and will be able to assess your claim to show if it would be worthwhile and what would be needed to make it advisable to pursue. The investigative team of your Personal Injury lawyer is skillful in scrutinizing all aspects and technical detail of your case. The experience of your Personal Injury attorney will allow your case to flow smoothly through the extensive paperwork involved in your Personal Injury case.
Working with others is particularly important. Whether it is with opposing counsel, insurance companies, witnesses, your friends, family or anyone else involved, your Personal Injury attorney needs to be able to work effectively and efficiently. Opposing counsel and insurance companies have many tactics to pressure you to reduce and even deny your claims. Your Personal Injury attorney needs to be competent in dealing with these tactics. Your Personal Injury attorney will also be able to assist you in determining if you claim may be resolved in mediation, providing you with a satisfactory settlement outside of court to relieve you emotionally and save you time and energy.
The cost of losing your case could be substantial. Most Personal Injury lawyers work for a contingency fee. This means that they do not receive payment unless you win your case or receive a settlement outside of court. It also means that they believe in you and your case. There are expenses that you would still be charged for, such as those of expert witnesses that review your records, and other fees not directly related to professional fees. Do not let an attorney gloss over these expenses quickly. Review your signed agreements with another Personal Injury attorney if possible to protect yourself.
If you would like to schedule an initial consultation with an attorney, contact Putnam, Thompson & Casper, P.L.L.C. at (563) 382-2984 or complete our inquiry form on the Contact Us page.