Posted on: 30 April 2019Share
When working with a personal injury attorney, a lot of concepts can be thrown around in trying to explain what's going on. Even the best lawyer can sometimes be quick to operate under the assumption a client gets all these ideas. As someone looking to hire an attorney, it's wise to familiarize yourself with some of the basic concepts that underpin personal injury law in America.
Loss and Damages
When a person is deprived of something of value, this is legally considered a loss. A cash value will be attached to this loss, and that value may be awarded as damages in relation to the settlement of an insurance claim or a judgment in a lawsuit.
In order to claim damages, you must be able to prove that some kind of loss occurred. Tangible losses, such as bodily injuries and destruction of property, are generally easier to prove. Generally, medical bills, the loss of income, and the loss of future earning potential are also fairly straightforward. Emotional trauma and loss of mental function are also possible to claim, but they generally require a bit more work to prove.
The notion of fault is comprised of two components. First, there is a duty of care. This is a legally binding responsibility to see that someone else doesn't come to harm due to your actions or failures. For example, a grocery store takes on a duty of care when it opens its doors to the public. The second component of fault is proving a proximate cause. For example, in a car accident case, there may be questions about whether operator error or road conditions were the most likely cause of an incident.
Showing that someone's actions were the proximate cause of an incident is not enough. You must also demonstrate that their actions would not have been considered reasonable under the circumstances. Those actions can be the products of negligence, recklessness, or malice. For example, a reasonable person wouldn't run down a crowded sidewalk, and a collision between them and a bystander might be considered reckless.
Statue of Limitations
In order for society to function, we must be able to move on from the past. To ensure this happens, the law limits how long wait to seek compensation. In most states, plaintiffs have between two and three years from the date of an incident to file a claim or sue.