Personal injury lawsuits are a great way to get the compensation that you deserve. However, there are some laws that you should familiarize yourself with before proceeding. Every state has different laws about how such lawsuits should work, so here are some categories that can vary drastically from state to state.
First of all, you need to worry about how much money you can actually get. Some states will heavily restrict your damages, while others will be much more liberal. To give you a more complete picture, there are two main types of damage caps that you need to worry about: economic and non-economic damages.
Economic damages are fairly simple, since they consist of all of your accident-related problems that cost money. For example, medical and auto bills fall under this umbrella, as do lost wages. All of those forms of suffering are clearly associated with a specific monetary value and are thus often unlimited in a personal injury lawsuit.
Non-economic damages refers to the opposite, which is accident-related problems that are not clearly associated with a monetary value. While mental anguish is certainly painful and possibly deserving of compensation, how much is it actually worth? The subjective nature of these damages often lead to restrictions on just how much of these non-economic damages you can sue for.
Damages can also be limited based on the type of case, with medical malpractice cases being particularly contentious.
Beyond that, you also have punitive damages, which are not quite so accessible, and you should talk to a lawyer if you think that you have a shot at actually filing for punitive damages. They are incredibly hard to prove, so you will need a lot of evidence on your side.
The Statute of Limitations
Naturally, you also need to know how long you have to actually file your lawsuit. In some states, this can be as short as 1 year, while other states might give you as long as 10 years. If you do not file within that limit, then you case may simply be rejected unless you meet certain criteria.
For instance, if you are a minor or if you didn't discover your injuries until long after the incident, then you can be given an extension on the open window for filing.
Comparative and Contributory Negligence
States also have varying opinions on how responsibility in a lawsuit should be treated. Some states believe in pure comparative negligence, and that your compensation should be reduced proportionally to your responsibility in the injury. If you were 30% responsible, then your compensation should be reduced by 30%.
Other states take it a step further with modified comparative negligence, and argue the same principle, but with the added caveat that any plaintiff that is found to be more than 50% responsible for their injury may not receive any compensation at all.
Finally, some states believe in contributory negligence, which essentially means that any responsibility is enough to drop compensation to 0. If the other party can prove that you played any role in your injury, then you may receive no money at all. For more information, contact a law office, such as Holth & Kollman LLC.
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