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Personal Injury: What Are Your Legal Rights?

— December 23, 2020

Personal injuries are common. However, knowing your legal rights regarding personal injury can help you get justice and acquire compensation.

Have you ever suffered an injury? Was it your fault or someone else’s fault?

Every year, approximately 214,000 people die as a result of injuries. Furthermore, for every person that dies, 13 are hospitalized and 129 more are treated in an emergency room. In many cases, the accidents are a result of other people’s negligence.

Unfortunately, many victims never seek legal action. Why? Because they don’t know their legal rights. 

In this article, we shall be discussing personal injury and some of your legal rights as a victim. 

After reading this article, you will be in a position to act or enlighten other people about what should be done when one is a victim of personal injury due to other people’s negligence.

What is personal injury?

Not all injuries are considered personal injuries. Personal injury occurs when one is involved in an accident caused by the negligence of someone else. 

Personal injury covers incidents that cause injury or harm to your body, mind or emotions, and your property. Some of the major causes of personal injury include;

  • Motor vehicle accidents – caused by reckless driving, exceeding speed limits, driving under the influence of alcohol and other drugs, using the phone while driving;
  • Personal injuries at the workplace;
  • Slips and falls;
  • Dog bites;
  • Product deficiencies;
  • Medical negligence;
  • Wrongful deaths.

Personal injury often results in pain, suffering, and emotional distress which requires medical and psychological treatment. Also, it might affect your body functioning thus making it difficult to live a normal life.

Snarling dog. Image via U.S. Air Force. Public domain.

Have you been injured and the person who caused it never took responsibility for their actions? It’s time to know your legal rights.

What are your legal rights?

Here are some of the basic rights that a personal injury victim and every other person should know.

  1. Right to seek medical treatment

The first thing you should do after you have had an accident is to go to a hospital – if you are unconscious or unable to move, you’ll definitely find yourself in a hospital. 

Personal injury victims have a right to see a doctor for medical treatment. Your life and health should always take priority over everything else.

If the person who caused the accident is responsible enough, they or their insurance company will take care of all your medical expenses to make sure you are back on your feet. If not, you will have to use your money or medical insurance plan to pay for your medical bills. 

Also, you should understand that some injuries take time before they start showing up. Therefore even if you feel like you are well after an accident, you should always go for a medical check-up just to confirm you are fine.

Your medical documents also come in handy when you file a lawsuit to provide evidence or proof of injuries.

  1. Right to file a lawsuit

Once you get out of the hospital and have sufficiently recovered, you should start planning on how to take the person responsible for the accident to court. 

This is especially when the person fails to take responsibility for their actions or denies being involved in the accident.

However, before filing a lawsuit, you need to make sure you have sufficient evidence of the person’s involvement in the accident that harmed you. Gather as much evidence as possible from any eye witnesses to medical reports. This will help you win the case and probably get compensation.

  1. Right to an informal settlement

Not every matter should be settled in court. 

What if you don’t have sufficient evidence to prove your claims? For instance, it is very hard to prove claims of medical malpractice.

Plus, you will need money to pay for legal fees so that your claim is processed and to pay your attorney if you hire one which is quite expensive.

And what’s worse, the trial might take a year or even more to be processed and you will probably encounter appeals from the defendant challenging a court decision in your favor.

To avoid these kinds of situations, you can choose to sit down with the other party and come up with a mutual agreement. However, this will only happen if both parties are willing to engage in the negotiation. 

There will probably be other parties in the negotiation including attorneys representing both sides and the other party’s insurer, to help you settle the matter formally.

If there is a mutual agreement between both sides, and if the person takes responsibility for their actions and agrees to compensate you, then it means the matter is settled.

  1. Right to a lawyer or attorney

It is very hard for a layman to understand legalese. Plus, the process of filing lawsuits and taking someone for a court can be quite complicated without training and experience.

And what if you are hospitalized and admitted but still want to push the lawsuit? You will need someone to represent you in court. And not just anyone, but a knowledgeable and experienced personal injury lawyer. 

Find a personal injury lawyer who has dealt with similar cases and has the necessary experience to help you seek justice and acquire the right compensation.

  1. Right to compensation

All these processes from filing personal injury claims to hiring experienced lawyers revolve around two main objectives; justice and compensation. But the latter can be achieved without court involvement.

The consequences of personal injury are severe, from pain, depression, and stress, to financial constraints. 

Compensation caters to your medical bills and to repair or replace your damaged or lost property.

Beyond that, if the accident affected your work life, say you were disabled and cannot continue working, you will need some sort of disability compensation. The person responsible must make sure that you continue living a comfortable life even after you stop working. 

Should the injury result in death, loved ones can file a lawsuit to cover the needs of any dependents.

In any case, the amount of compensation you receive will be dependent upon the severity of the accident and the injuries. 

  1. Right to appeal court’s decision

You don’t always get to win a case in a law court – even when the defendant is responsible – for different reasons such as a lack of enough evidence to prove your case.

Again, if the defendant has a lot of influence, perhaps a very wealthy politician with lots of high level connections or a large multinational corporation with deep pockets, it can be tricky to hold them accountable.

However, if you ever feel that the court has been unfair and has not granted you the justice you deserve, you have the right to challenge its decisions by appealing the case. 

Once you appeal, the case is reviewed and this time, you have to provide enough hard evidence. However, this may cost you valuable time and money, especially if you lose the case again.

Bottom line

Personal injuries are common. However, knowing your legal rights regarding personal injury can help you get justice and acquire compensation. Remember, you should never shy away from demanding your rights, even when you are dealing with a ‘Big fish’. 

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