What Is a Personal Injury?
A personal injury is typically a legal term. It refers to injuries someone suffers at the hands of another party.Personal injuries can arise from:
- Car accidents
- Rideshare accidents
- Semi-truck crashes
- Motorcycle collisions
- Bus crashes
- Pedestrian accidents
- Bicycle or scooter accidents
- Slip and falls
- Medical malpractice
- Premise liability incidents
- Defective products
- Dog bites or animal attacks
- Workplace accidents
- Wrongful death
- Liability: Another party was liable for the damages the victim sustained
- Damages: The nature and extent of the victim’s damages can be proven
Types of Injuries Involved in Personal Injury CasesDifferent physical injuries can give rise to a personal injury claim. Some injuries will be milder, such as bruising and lacerations, and some will be catastrophic or even life-threatening, such as head or spinal injuries. No matter how minor or severe your injury might seem, get a personal injury attorney to review your accident and injuries. You may recover compensation for your damages. Common personal injuries include:
- Broken bones: Fractures are common in motor vehicle accidents and slip and falls. They may require several weeks in a splint or cast or even surgery and physical therapy.
- Spinal cord injuries (SCI) can happen anywhere along the spinal cord and can lead to temporary or permanent paralysis.
- Traumatic brain injuries (TBI): TBIs can be simple concussions that require some extra rest but can also be life-threatening and require surgery. Those that live through severe TBIs may face significant life changes, including not caring for themselves and having personality changes or frequent seizures.
- Internal injuries: Although the spine, ribs, and pelvis protect the internal organs, they are still vulnerable to accidents. Internal organs can suffer extreme bruising and even life-threatening bleeding. These injuries must get treatment right away.
- Burns: Housefires, workplace accidents, and motor vehicle crashes can all cause burns. They can disfigure people and may require plastic surgery with skin grafts. They can also develop life-threatening infections.
- Sprains/strains: Sprains and strains can happen at various joints in the body. In some cases, they require a more extended recovery period than breaks.
- Neck and back injuries: Even if the spinal cord doesn't become injured, neck and back injuries can still be severe and even debilitating. Accidents can, break bones, pull muscles, and cause discs to slip or bulge. In addition, victims may require surgery and sometimes ongoing physical therapy.
- Amputations: Sometimes, the accident itself removes an appendage, or it can damage one so bad that surgical removal is necessary. Amputations alter the victim’s life forever.
- Psychological injuries: While they typically can’t be observed or diagnosed like these other injuries, psychological injuries such as depression and anxiety can develop due to accidents. They often require months or even years of various treatments.
What Are Special Damages?Special damages are monetary losses arising from a personal injury that can be measured and documented. Establishing special damages in a personal injury claim typically involves collecting receipts, bills, and other documentation revealing the actual costs you incurred because of your injury. The total amount of your special damages should include your:
- Medical bills
- Lost wages and income
- Out-of-pocket expenses
- Personal property losses
Medical Expenses for Injury Diagnosis and TreatmentYour medical bills and records are crucial for your personal injury claim. It’s essential that you or your personal injury attorney request copies of all your related medical bills and records so that you can document your expenses. Be sure you document the total amount billed, not just your copay or deductible. You or your lawyer should obtain copies of each of your medical bills, even if healthcare insurance or workers' compensation covered them. Unfortunately, Medicare, Medicaid, workers' comp, and most private health insurance companies have the legal right to place a medical lien on your potential settlement to recover what they paid towards your medical bills on your behalf. Document your medical costs for:
- Ambulance and EMS services
- Hospital and emergency department bills
- Hospital and emergency room doctor services
- Outpatient physician services
- Chiropractic treatments
- Diagnostic tests such as lab work, X-rays, MRIs, CT scans, and others
- Physicians' charges to interpret and report test results
- Costs for physical/occupation therapy or rehabilitation
- Occupational therapy
- Vocational rehabilitation
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy
Mental Health ServicesIt’s not uncommon for injury accidents, especially traumatic ones, to cause:
- Emotional distress
- Difficulty sleeping
- Difficulty concentrating
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
Lost Income, Wages, or Earning CapacityYou are also entitled to the reimbursement of all income, wages, and other earnings lost because of your injury. This begins on the day of your injury, through the present, and continues for as long as you cannot work or earn income. In addition, severe injuries resulting in permanent disability to a child or working adult generate valid claims for loss of earning capacity. If they cannot work and earn a living in the future, they deserve compensation to help support themselves. An experienced personal injury attorney can enlist the help of experts to predict how much the injured individual would have potentially earned before they reached retirement age. Lost income is best established in a personal injury claim with a verification letter from your employer. It should detail:
- Your normal pay rate
- The total number of hours you lost
- The total compensation you lost because your injury kept you from working
- Overtime opportunities
- Vacation days used
- Sick leave used
- Lost accrual of vacation or sick days
- Fuel allowance
- Meal allowance
- Use of company vehicle
- Gym membership
- Employer contribution to retirement plans
- Employer contribution to insurance premiums
Out-of-Pocket ExpensesOut-of-pocket expenses include all other costs and financial obligations or burdens stemming from your accident and subsequent injury. Depending on your accident and injuries, other related expenses might include:
- Over-the-counter and prescription medications
- Medical equipment, including crutches, walkers, wheelchairs, slings, bandages, etc.
- Fuel and parking expenses when traveling to necessary medical appointments
- Mileage for travel to and from necessary medical appointments
- Rental car fees if one becomes necessary due to an accident
- Child care
- Pet care and dog walking
- Laundry service
- Meal service
- Lawn care
- Snow removal
Personal Property or Vehicle DamageIf you're in a motor vehicle crash, you can file a property damage claim for the cost of repairs to your car. If your vehicle was totaled, you have the right to an amount representing its fair market value. You might also claim that expense if you used a rental car while yours was in the shop. No matter how your injury occurred, you also have the right to seek compensation for any personal property that was damaged or destroyed during the accident. It doesn’t have to be a car accident. For example, you might have lost or broken your eyeglasses or wedding ring in a slip and fall accident. Damaged or destroyed personal property can include:
- Electronic devices, such as laptop computers, smartphones, earbuds, watches, etc.
- Eyeglasses and sunglasses
- Clothing items
- School supplies