The personal injury claims process can be intimidating. No one wants to navigate complicated proceedings while recovering from serious injuries, and the unintelligible legal jargon certainly doesn’t help. But if you put off your claim, there’s a good chance that time-sensitive evidence will become unavailable. There are also lawsuit filing deadlines to consider.
As arduous as the claims process might seem, there are steps you can take to make the experience far less stressful. The first and most important is to enlist the help of a highly experienced and accomplished personal injury attorney. The second is to learn as much as you can about the proceedings and the relevant terminology.
Read on to learn a few of the most important terms to know before filing a personal injury claim:
1. Maximum Medical Improvement
Once your recovery has plateaued and doctors don’t expect your condition to improve any further, you will have reached maximum medical improvement (MMI). Your lawyer might advise you to hold off on the settlement negotiations until you have reached MMI so the damages calculations will be as accurate as possible.
2. Bad Faith
When an insurance company denies a claim without a legitimate reason, delays approving a claim that is clearly valid, or engages in certain other forms of unethical behavior, it may constitute insurance bad faith. Depending on the circumstances, you may have grounds for a bad faith claim in addition to your personal injury claim.
3. Burden of Proof
In personal injury cases, the burden of proof lies with the plaintiff. In other words, it’s up to you to demonstrate how the defendant’s negligence or intentional misconduct was more likely than not the cause of your damages. In cases that involve strict liability, proving negligence or intent is not necessary to impose liability, but you will still have to present evidence to prove that strict liability applies and to prove causation and damages.
4. Compensatory Damages
Compensatory damages are those that compensate the victim for the direct financial losses resulting from the tort (economic damages) and the intangible consequences of the tort (non-economic damages). Examples of compensatory damages include:
- Hospital bills;
- Home care;
- Lost income and benefits;
- Property repairs;
- Domestic help like child care and housekeeping;
- Pain and suffering;
- Emotional distress;
- Physical impairment;
- Injury to reputation; and
- Loss of enjoyment in life.
5. Punitive Damages
Punitive damages are awarded to penalize the defendant for malice, fraud, or gross negligence. Because most personal injury cases are brought on the basis of ordinary negligence, punitive damages usually are not recoverable.
Most personal injury claims are brought on the basis of negligence, which means the defendant breached the duty of care owed to the claimant. Negligence can take many forms including reckless driving, operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated, a business establishment’s failure to remedy a dangerous condition on their premises, or preventable medical errors.
Speak with a Jackson Personal Injury Attorney
At Coxwell & Associates, we understand the physical, emotional, and financial toll that an unanticipated injury can take. We will use all the resources at our disposal to help you pursue the maximum settlement or verdict. Call (601) 265-7766 or fill out our Contact Form to schedule a free consultation with a personal injury lawyer in Jackson.
Disclaimer: This blog is intended as general information purposes only, and is not a substitute for legal advice. Anyone with a legal problem should consult a lawyer immediately.