Layman's Guide to Personal Injury Claims

Occupational Injuries and Beyond

Injury might be a part of everyone’s life but do you needlessly need to suffer when someone else is to blame? According to a report published by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics in December 2014, 109.4 cases of severe occupational illnesses and injuries were reported for every 10,000 full time workers, both in the private and state/local sectors for 2013. While these are just the figures for non-fatal occupational injuries, the number of fatal cases stood at 4,405 for the same year, the report revealed. Apart from occupational injuries, there are so many other areas of life where we might be vulnerable to hurt or harm.

What Can You Claim For?

According to the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), there are about 162,000 injury related deaths in the US every year, along with 1,903,000 injury related hospital discharges and at least 3,852,000 injury related outpatient visits to hospitals. In fact, the NCHS says that accidental injuries are today the leading cause of death for people over the age of 35 in the United States. The only silver lining is that there are experienced and skilled personal injury lawyers who can help you file for compensation for:

  1. Serious injury: This includes loss of a loved one due to birth injury due to negligence, traumatic brain injury, burns and inhalation.
  2. Motor vehicle accidents: Whether you were involved in a two-wheeler accident or a four-wheeler one, everything from bicycle to truck accidents can be claimed for. You can also file a claim for drowning accidents of a loved one.
  3. Medical malpractice or abuse & neglect at a nursing home: The unfortunate reality is that abuse and neglect are fairly rampant in long-term care homes. You can file a claim if you have proof of such circumstances or if you or a loved one has suffered due to the negligence of a doctor, either during inpatient or outpatient treatment.
  4. Product liability: From medical implants to malfunctioning machinery, any product that has caused you an injury that required medical care can be claimed for.
  5. Slip and fall: If you or a loved one has sustained an injury due to conditions such as wet floors, defective flooring or even potholes, you can receive compensation.
  6. Animal attacks: This includes dog bites and injury due to attack by other animals.
  7. Occupational injury: Construction sites aren’t the only places that could lead to such injuries. Any workplace related injury can be claimed for.

These are some of the most common personal injury claims filed in the United States. Others include wrongful death, assault & battery, defamation and playground accidents, among others. However, you need to claim soon after sustaining an injury because there are statutes of limitations on the different types of claims.

Statute of Limitations

Statute of limitations essentially establishes how long after you have sustained an injury you can file a claim in court. While the time frames are likely to differ from state to state, here’s a look at the statute of limitations in New Jersey:

Type of Claim - Statute of Limitations

  • Wrongful Death - 2 years
  • Negligence (leading to motor vehicle accidents, slip and fall, toxic exposure, etc) - 2 years
  • Product Liability - 2 years
  • Strict Liability - 2 years
  • Defamation - 1 year
  • Assault or Battery - 1 year

What You Can Claim Compensation For

You can receive compensation/reimbursement for:

  • Medical treatment and loss of wages
  • Loss of or damage to property as a result of the injury
  • Emotional distress, pain, suffering
  • Loss of consortium, which includes loss of companionship, income, childcare and so on due to injury to spouse
  • Injury to reputation
  • Punitive damages, which is compensation given as punishment to the accused

Limits to the Damages You Can Claim

Usually, there are no limits to the amount you can claim as compensation for your injuries, however, in certain situations, there are some limitations on damages that you should know about. The first important thing to remember is that the estimate that you come up with for damages should be reasonable, especially for compensation of future expenses, such as lost wages or medical treatment costs that might be incurred in future. The best course of action is to consult an experience personal injury lawyer to decide on the amount of reimbursement you should claim.

Non-Economic Damages

This involves compensation not for actual monetary expenses but the emotional and mental repercussion of the injury, including loss of companionship of a spouse. The evaluation of this type of cost is subjective, dictated more by circumstances or your specific situation.

Punitive Damages

The amount is usually judged based on the behavior of the person who is responsible for the injury you have sustained. If they were willfully malicious or disregarded the potential for harm, you can claim punitive damages. In New Jersey, punitive damages cannot exceed five times the compensatory damages or $350,000. However, there could be some exception to this limit as well.

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