If you have been hurt at work, in a car crash or at a friend’s house, it may be possible to seek compensation for your injury. Depending on the facts in a given case, it may be possible to receive a financial award to help pay for medical bills or other expenses related to the accident. How do you know if you have grounds to file a personal injury suit?
The accident or event that caused your injury must have stemmed from the negligence of another person or entity. Negligence occurs when a person or property owner breaches his or her duty of care toward you. For instance, a grocery store owner would be negligent for not mopping a wet floor or not putting up a wet floor sign. However, an exception applies if that property owner didn’t know about the dangerous condition or wouldn’t have been able to foresee its occurrence.
Let’s say that you were hit by another vehicle while waiting at a red light because the driver of that vehicle was talking on a cell phone. However, because it was a relatively minor collision, there was no damage to the vehicle nor did you have to seek medical attention. While the driver is likely negligent in causing the crash, you can’t file a personal injury lawsuit because you didn’t suffer any financial injury.
When an accident takes place at work, your case will likely be resolved through the workers’ compensation system. However, if your injuries were the result of gross negligence, state law may allow you to proceed with a personal injury case. An example of gross negligence is forcing someone to work outside in a thunderstorm or failing to provide adequate fall protection equipment. This is advantageous because workers’ compensation cases don’t allow injured parties to ask for punitive damages or compensation for emotional stress.
In many states, personal injury lawsuits cannot be filed more than two years after an accident causing injury occurs. An exception may be made in the event that you were a minor when the incident occurred. Exceptions may also be made if you were not mentally capable of filing a lawsuit or were incarcerated.
Before filing a personal injury lawsuit, make sure that you have standing to file it. Consulting with an attorney or visiting government websites can help you to learn more about your rights and possible recourse after an accident.
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