Personal injuries can occur anytime and anywhere, but that does not mean that victims should walk away with costly injuries, lost income, and lost money because of property damage, insurance deductibles, and other expenses. Most people who suffer these injuries do not know if they have legal recourse, assume a lawyer is too expensive, or are afraid of reprisal from the responsible parties. Some people do not even know who caused their injuries.
When an accident occurs, reaching out to a New Brunswick personal injury lawyer helps start the legal process and uncover the truth. This process is important because it can prevent injuries in the future, help the family move on, and ensure that the accident does not define the victim or their family.
In the worst cases, people die of their injuries. Families need peace, and they want to see justice served. Learning about how to respond to these accidents helps victims and families recover quickly and hold the defendants accountable. Remaining informed is a safer way to live, and it is especially important for the families left behind by the deceased.
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What is a Personal Injury?
Personal injuries involve any injury incurred through no fault of the victim. Victims can get hurt at home while they are repairing siding or climbing a ladder, but that is not a personal injury. In these cases, the victim created the situation, and they followed through on that act until they were hurt. There is nothing they can do except attempt to recover. However, someone who climbs a ladder that is proven to be faulty can sue the manufacturer of that ladder.
A personal injury need not be severe to be compensable. Personal injury claims could be as simple as someone spraining their ankle while jogging on a damaged sidewalk. It is true that the award may not be all that large, but the victim cannot force a local municipality to keep the sidewalk in perfect condition. A sprained ankle requires a doctor’s visit, physical therapy, medication, and a few days off work. These are all compensable expenses under the law.
In short, victims should do not walk away from any accident without first considering how it came about. If there is even a remote idea that someone was malicious or negligent, the victim should reach out to a personal injury lawyer, explain the situation, and begin looking into options for compensation.
Who is Responsible for My Injuries?
Responsibility for any accident rests with someone or some entity. As mentioned above, some injuries are caused by the victim at home or work and there is nothing to be done except to recover. Unfortunately, many injuries are caused by neglect and mismanagement. There are several ways that an injury could occur.
Drivers of passenger vehicles can cause personal injuries when their negligence causes an accident. Drivers get in their cars every day to go to work and run errands, but another vehicle can cause a serious accident. Injuries incurred during the accident are compensable via a personal injury lawsuit. Drivers get distracted, speed, make erratic maneuvers, drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs, engage in aggressive behavior, or duel with another driver because of road rage.
Drivers of large trucks must drive safely, make wise decisions, and inspect their vehicles before setting off for the day. When the driver makes negligent decisions, they can be sued for their part in the accident. The trucking company can be sued when it does not care for its trucks or a service technician can be sued when they do not maintain these vehicles properly.
Victims must also consider the idea that another passenger vehicle forced a large truck into an accident. A large truck could tip over because it was loaded improperly, or the truck may jackknife because it cannot make a proper emergency stop.
Commercial businesses and offices
Retail businesses, commercial properties, or offices accept visitors who could be injured at any time. The floors in these buildings must be clean, in good repair, and marked accordingly when there is an issue. The stairs must be safe to walk, and the handrails must be secure. The elevator must be kept in good condition, and carpeting, tiling, or hardwood flooring must be properly maintained.
Commercial businesses also have stored items that could fall, machines that injure unsuspecting victims, and even exposed power cords that might cause electrocutions. Some of these spaces require hard hats for a reason, but a hard hat cannot prevent serious injuries if an object falls from on high. Even someone walking across an office who trips over papers that were left on the floor has a claim against the business. The office space must be safe for everyone, and desks must be separated to allow space for foot traffic.
Industrial facilities and construction sites
Industrial facilities are even more dangerous because of the scale of the work done, the raw materials used, and the machines in operation. An industrial or construction site might also contain dangerous chemicals or substances. Something as catastrophic as an explosion could occur, or victims could be exposed to hazardous substances. Even loud noises and bright flashes can cause injuries, hearing loss, or visual impairment. If the victim was not given proper warning or protective gear, the business may be found guilty of negligence.
Health care professionals
Medical professionals guilty of any level of malpractice, from prescribing the wrong medication to leaving an instrument inside a patient after surgery, can be sued. Although a medical professional can make major mistakes, even something as simple as ignoring complaints of discomfort or missing an obvious diagnosis is compensable. If a pharmacist fills the wrong prescription, they are liable for damages. Additionally, a therapist might fail to diagnose an ill patient miss or the signs of suicidal ideation.
Manufacturers producing any defective item can be sued for negligence. At times, manufacturers use faulty materials, and a lawsuit may recover damages when it is clear the manufacturer knew it was using substandard materials. If the manufacturer sold faulty materials, the supplier can be subject to a lawsuit.
If products are not shipped properly or suffer damage during shipping, they could fail. The manufacturer can be found guilty of negligence when packing its shipments improperly, or the freight company can be sued for causing the damage.
As an example, someone running through a park expects the local government to care for that space. The municipal government must take great care to maintain all its properties, and citizens injured on these properties may sue if they slipped in the hallway of the town hall, tripped on a broken cobblestone step on a trail, or their child was injured on an ill-managed playground. If a member of the family trips on a pothole in the parking lot of a municipal space, they have grounds to sue for compensation because the local government must take action to make the parking lot safe for everyone to use.
Private property owners
Owners of private property are not immune from lawsuits stemming from personal injuries. If someone is injured on private property, they have grounds for a lawsuit when that property was not maintained properly. Incidents such as deck collapses, stair collapses, and even falling branches can cause major injuries or deaths. Victims should speak to a personal injury lawyer after the accident to determine which combination of these entities is responsible.
- $1 MPedestrian Accident
- $845 KCommercial Truck Accident
- $275 KSlip and Fall Accident
Should I Look Out for Certain Types of Injuries?
Injuries caused by these accidents can be benign or almost invisible. Even if the victim does not recognize they are injured, they may be suffering from mild to moderate trauma or even life-threatening conditions. Everyone involved in an accident should receive medical treatment at the scene or the hospital because there is no way to know if victims require emergency treatment. Simple injuries such as cuts, scrapes, and bruises should be examined by an EMT or doctor to rule out any serious side effects, infections, or additional issues.
Accident victims should take the ambulance to the hospital and follow the doctor’s orders. Injuries in these accidents can include the following:
Head injuries include trauma such as concussions and contusions. A concussion alone is dangerous because it can cause headaches, swelling on the brain, and a disoriented feeling. A major concussion might also cause nausea, or the injury could be so severe that it causes a hematoma or hemorrhage. These types of bleeding either clot or continue unchecked, causing unconsciousness or even death. An edema includes swelling on the brain, and the pressure caused can be deadly. Skull fractures are often comorbid with brain injuries because the skull did not protect the brain as intended. Traumatic brain injuries can also cause a loss of motor function, memory loss, or diminished cognitive ability.
Injury to bones can be nothing more than a chip or crack that causes discomfort without causing severe pain or disability. As broken bones become more severe, they cause increased discomfort and pain. The bone should be set by a doctor, and a cast must be used to encourage proper healing. Some victims might believe their injuries are minor strains or sprains, thinking they will heal quickly. Proper medical treatment diagnoses the problem without assuming the nature of the injury, and follow-ups occur so that the victim recovers fully.
Internal trauma includes bleeding and organ damage the victim cannot see. Imaging helps a doctor determine the scale of the damage and how to offer treatment. Victims might complain of stomach or chest pain that feels like heartburn or indigestion. Punctured lungs, broken ribs, and even an abdominal aortic aneurysm can occur. Victims should not assume these are benign injuries.
Burns, scarring, or disfigurement
Second or third-degree burns, serious lacerations, and contact with chemicals can cause scarring or disfigurement. The severe nature of these injuries can lead to infection, health complications, or even death. Although the victim may survive their injuries, these scars do not go away, are painful to live with, and lower the victim’s self-esteem. Corrective or reconstructive surgeries may also be required.
When a limb is amputated or cannot be saved by medical professionals, the victim cannot continue living as they did before the injury. Victims need to speak with a personal injury lawyer to learn how to calculate compensation for injuries of this nature, as prosthetics may also be required.
Even the most benign injuries require compensation because the victim cannot afford to, and did not plan to, live like this. Victims should not be afraid to consider how the accident occurred and ask for a lawyer ’s help investigating these cases.
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What Happens if I Played a Part in the Accident?
New Jersey uses the comparative negligence rule when looking at personal injury cases. At trial or during settlement negotiations, the victim might take responsibility for five percent of the accident. If that is the case, the victim would receive $190,000 if they were supposed to be awarded $200,000. The level of comparative negligence is subtracted from the total.
When using the doctrine of comparative negligence, the victim cannot recover damages when they are responsible for more than 50 percent of the accident. This is important to remember, and the victim must retain a personal injury lawyer who understands how to build a case showing that the victim deserves to recover damages.
What is a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
A wrongful death lawsuit should be filed when someone died during or after an accident. These lawsuits use similar evidence to what is collected for a personal injury claim. This is important to consider because deaths in the family are traumatic and the family may never truly recover. When filing a wrongful death lawsuit, the family can recover damages such as medical expenses and lost income. The person who died would have qualified for these damages had they survived the accident. The family is left to deal with the aftermath of the accident, and the damages they can seek include the following:
- Burial or funeral costs
- Legal costs when handling the estate
These damages help the family move forward, and it is important for the family to move quickly because they have only two years to file a wrongful death lawsuit. It is important to note that the family cannot file a wrongful death lawsuit as an entity. Only a representative of the victim’s estate can retain a lawyer and file the lawsuit. The dependents of the decedent such as their children or spouse can file a lawsuit. If there are no immediate dependents left behind, New Jersey intestacy laws are used to prioritize who receives these funds.
What Sort of Compensation Will I Receive?
Compensation in these cases includes all the expenses the victim or the family incurred while recovering. Although compensation in a case can grow into the hundreds of thousands of dollars or even millions, it is not a round number. The lawyer uses information to calculate the exact amount their client deserves. The damages from these cases should include the following compensation:
Medical costs incurred after the accident rise quickly because emergency care alone can be expensive. Medications, surgeries, and doctor’s visits will continue to mount as the victim recovers, and they may need further surgeries or even in-home care. Medical equipment and transportation add to this total; therefore, it is important for the victim to ensure that they keep accurate records, share receipts with their lawyer, and ask their doctor to forward medical records or charts.
Recovery costs include physical therapy, counseling, and additional medications. The victim, in fact, may require treatment for the rest of their life because of the severity of the accident. Because they should not be forced to pay out of pocket for these costs, victims can recover compensation during a lawsuit.
Counseling or therapy helps deal with the mental scars left behind by these accidents. Some accidents are so violent or traumatic that the victim cannot move on with their life as normal. They must speak with someone who can help them with coping skills and understanding how to process their trauma.
Lost hours at work
Lost hours at work must be compensated because the victim cannot support their family if they do not have any income. If the victim loses their job, they should be compensated for the money they did not make while searching for a new job.
Loss of future earnings
If the accident is so severe that the victim cannot go back to work or go back to the same job, they must be paid commensurate with their earning potential. For example, a teacher is paid on a clear and concise pay scale. The lawyer reviews the pay scale and determines how much that teacher would have earned in the future.
Pain and suffering
Pain and suffering are calculated and added to the lawsuit because the victim’s life is forever changed. The emotional turmoil suffered by the victim and their family must be considered, given that they have been through a terrible ordeal. Personal injury lawyers use industry experience to determine how much compensation is recoverable and what will seem reasonable to the court.
Loss of consortium, companionship, or support
This is a common occurrence after any traumatic event. The victim might not have the capacity to be with their family, raise their children, or maintain relationships. The victim might also have several people to support, including their adult children or relatives, and they need money that pays for all these responsibilities.
Punitive damages may be added at trial as the judge or jury reviews the case. When gross misconduct or negligence is evident, punitive damages may be awarded. In the State of New Jersey, punitive damages cannot exceed $350,000 or five times the total damages awarded.
Why Do I Need a Personal Injury Lawyer?
A personal injury lawyer is the appropriate person who can file suit after an accident. For the victim, they need help uncovering the truth behind their accident along with filing suit to recover compensation. They should not do this on their own because they do not have the access and skills of a lawyer. Hiring a lawyer includes a consultation in which the lawyer will review the case and determine if it can proceed.
Once a lawsuit is filed, the lawyer collects information that helps prove their case. They continue to build a compelling case until they can negotiate a settlement or go to trial. A personal injury lawyer speaks on behalf of the family, and they continue working on the case until they reach a favorable outcome. One of the biggest concerns of victims is how much it costs to hire a lawyer. However, a lawyer in a personal injury case is not paid until they recover compensation for their clients. The case can be appealed until a favorable decision is reached, or a settlement can quickly close the case.
New Brunswick Personal Injury Lawyers at the Law Offices of Harold J. Gerr Assist Victims Injured in All Types of Accidents
If you or someone you love was injured in an accident, reach out to the experienced New Brunswick personal injury lawyers at the Law Offices of Harold J. Gerr. We have protected the rights of personal injury victims since 1975. Our legal team helps victims receive the compensation they deserve and move on with their lives. Call us today at 732-537-8570 or contact us online for a free consultation. Located in Highland Park, New Jersey, we serve clients throughout New Brunswick, Somerset, Piscataway, Edison, South River, Sayreville, Metuchen, East Brunswick, South Plainfield, Fords, Middlesex, Old Bridge, Iselin, Bound Brook, Perth Amboy, and Colonia.
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