Does My Accident Mean I Can File a Personal Injury Lawsuit?
When you are incur injuries in an accident, there can be a variety of different causes. Maybe you slipped and fell on an icy sidewalk outside your apartment. Perhaps you were in a car crash that was not your fault. If the accident was someone else’s fault, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries. But how do you know if your accident qualifies to file a personal injury claim?
Defining “Personal Injury”
Personal injury cases involve injuries from accidents due to someone’s negligence. A personal injury claim is filed by one private party against another private party, and is heard in a civil court rather than a criminal court. The most common kinds of personal injury claims involve:
- Car accidents
- Injuries sustained at work
- Slip and fall accidents
- Assault or battery
- Injuries from a defective or dangerous product
- Medical malpractice
To file a personal injury claim, the plaintiff (the injured party) must prove the other party was responsible. Usually, that the party was negligent or intentionally malicious, and their actions are the cause of injury.
What is Negligence?
Negligence is a legal term that means one person owed a duty of care to another person and that person failed take reasonable care in their actions, causing injury or harm to another. In order to prove negligence, the plaintiff must prove that the defendant’s actions actually caused the injury. The plaintiff must show a clear connection between the injury and the defendant’s actions. In many cases, the connection is obvious. For example, a whiplash injury can pretty clearly be attributed to a car accident. Sometimes the correlation is harder to spot. For example, if a man falls down the stairs in a slip and fall accident but claims to have suffered hearing loss, this may be harder to prove. Finally, the plaintiff must prove that the injury caused actual, compensable harm, such as medical bills for injuries, lost wages, or pain and suffering.
In many accidents, both parties may be partially at fault. Every state has its own laws on what kind of recovery a plaintiff may claim if they are partially at fault for the injury. Maryland has a contributory negligence law, which is stricter than comparative negligence. In a comparative negligence state, a plaintiff may still recover damages if they are partly at fault, but the amount of damages is reduced proportionally based on the plaintiff’s responsibility. Contributory negligence, on the other hand, prohibits a plaintiff from recovering any damages if he or she is found to be even partially responsible for their injuries. While this may seem harsh, the Maryland Court of Appeals upheld the law in 2013.
How Long Do I Have to File a Claim?
Each state has its statute of limitations, or deadlines, for filing personal injury lawsuits. In Maryland, you must file a claim within three years from the date the date the injury or event occurred.
What if I Have More Questions?
If you or a loved one sustained injuries due to someone else’s negligence, it is extremely important to consult with an attorney to make sure you get the compensation you need to cover your medical bills and lost wages. The experienced Maryland personal injury attorneys at Alpert Schreyer, LLC will fight to get everything you are entitled to, and we won’t collect fees until we get you the compensation you deserve. Call us at 301-932-9997 or contact us online for a free, confidential consultation today.