Frequently Asked Questions about Personal Injury Claims
What is a personal injury?
- A personal injury is any physical or mental injury to a person as a result of someone's negligence or intentional act. Sometimes personal injury may be referred to as bodily injuries. Personal injuries can occur in a wide variety of ways. The following are some of the most common incidents resulting in personal injury:
- Auto/truck/motorcycle accidents
- Dangerous or defective product injuries (product liability)
- Aviation disasters
- Medical malpractice
- Wrongful death
- Injuries at home
- Injuries in the workplace
- Injuries on commercial property
- Defective product/equipment
What may I be compensated for in a personal injury claim?
- Personal injury victims may be entitled to recover money damages for all losses and expenses they incur as a result of an accident. The damages may include the following:
- Past and future medical bills related to the injury
- Past and future lost wages related to the injury
- Pain and suffering
- Mental and physical disability
- Disfigurement and scarring
- Emotional trauma
- Mental anguish
- Loss of enjoyment of life imposed by the injury
- Loss of love and affection
- Property damage
- All out-of-pocket expenses (e.g. transportation charges, housecleaning and other charges directly relating to the injury)
What do I have to do to prove a personal injury claim?
- To have a personal injury case, you must be able to show that you have been injured. This may be a physical injury or it may be an emotional injury. In addition, you must be able to show that someone else (the defendant) is at fault for your injury, whether by negligence, intentional misconduct or strict liability. The other party must be more at fault for the injury than you are.
Can I still have a claim if the accident is partly my fault?
- Even if the cause of injury was partially your fault you still may have a claim. Wyoming employs the law of comparative negligence. The term "comparative negligence" means that the fault of all the parties involved in the situation creating your injury will be assessed. The amount of the recovery for damages sustained by you is reduced by the percentage of your own fault. In this way, each person is held accountable for the amount of damages they caused.
For example, if you were jaywalking across the street rather than crossing at the designated intersection when you were run over by a drunk driver, who was speeding and not watching for traffic or pedestrians, a jury might find you 10 percent negligent and the drunk driver 90 percent negligent. If your damages were determined to be $100,000, then your award would be reduced by $10,000 (10 percent of $100,000).
Do I need an attorney?
- If you have been injured and do not know what the outcome of your injury will be, then an experienced personal injury attorney should always be consulted as soon after your injury as possible and before you give any information to the insurance adjustor or sign any papers of any kind.
In almost any personal injury case, you will usually have a more favorable settlement if you consult an attorney as soon as possible. Stephen L. Simonton, P. C. offers a free consultation, with no obligation. You have nothing to lose by consulting an attorney before giving a statement to an insurance adjustor or accepting an offer from an insurance company.
There is a statute of limitations that affects your case. The statute of limitations requires you to file suit within a specific period of time, depending upon the circumstances of your case. If you fail to file suit within the proper time you will be prohibited from obtaining any compensation for your injuries. An attorney will be able to advise you about the statute of limitations.
How does a contingency fee agreement work?
- A "contingency fee" is a fee agreement that is used by lawyers in most personal injury cases. It is an arrangement by which an attorney may be compensated for services. It is frequently used by attorneys when a client cannot afford to pay for the attorney's services on an hourly basis. It is a "contingency fee" because payment of attorney's fees is conditioned upon your attorney's successful resolution of your case. A contingent fee is paid as a percentage of your monetary recovery. A contingent fee is what is meant when you hear "there is no fee unless there is recovery." If there is no compensation paid for your injuries, then the lawyer receives nothing for his time regardless of the number of hours he worked on your case. The client is responsible for the out-of-pocket costs of litigation, such as photocopying, deposition fees, postage, etc.
Will I have to go to Court with my claim?
- Most personal injury cases are settled out of court. If a case does go to trial you most likely will have to appear so that your testimony can be heard.
How long will it take to settle my claim?
- The time it takes to settle a personal injury case depends on the circumstances surrounding the case and the posture taken by the insurance company. The more complex the case the longer it may take to settle. Personal injury cases may take anywhere from three to 18 months. Some cases may take longer, especially if the insurance company decides to deny your claim. If your claim goes to court, the court's schedule will determine when your case will be heard by the Judge or the jury.
If I am physically injured, is my spouse entitled to a recovery?
- In Wyoming, a spouse may be entitled to a separate award for "loss of consortium." Loss of consortium is based upon the idea that an injury to one spouse may result in a loss of companionship, society and comfort to the non-injured spouse.
Stephen L. Simonton, P. C. has successfully represented numerous people with a wide range of personal injury claims. Every claim is different. Please contact us and let us answer the questions you may have about your case.