If you or someone you love has suffered an injury, many different elements may affect your ability to bring a successful personal injury claim. These are some of the most common questions potential plaintiffs may have about the claims process:
How Do I Know If I Have A Case?
First, you may wonder if you actually have a viable claim. There are many elements which will determine whether or not you may be able to receive compensation for an injury. These can include:
- Timing: Personal injury claims are subject to a statute of limitations, which is a certain time period following an injury during which a claim may be brought. For cases in Washington D.C., most personal injury claims must be brought within three years of the injury; wrongful death claims must be brought within two years, and plaintiffs have one year to bring an action for an intentional tort.
- Amount At Issue: As a plaintiff, your attorney will be asking the court to award the monetary amount necessary to compensate you for the losses you have suffered due to your injuries. In Washington, D.C., if this amount is less than $5,000, you may be able to take your claim to Small Claims court. Cases with a larger amount in controversy will be handled through the District's civil court system.
What Do I Do If A Loved One Is Injured?
When someone you love has suffered an injury, there are several ways in which you can assist with a claim on their behalf. One of the most critical steps you can take is to contact an experienced personal injury attorney and provide as much information as possible regarding what happened. This can be especially helpful if your loved one is still hospitalized or otherwise unable to relay information directly. Obtaining copies of documentation such as medical records and police reports can greatly assist in painting the full picture of what occurred when you meet with a lawyer. There are also some critical things that you should avoid doing when a loved one has been injured. It is good practice to refrain from posting details about your loved one's condition on social media as even an innocuous status update could be used as evidence by the defendant. Additionally, it is best to refrain from discussing any details of your loved one's injury with insurance claims adjusters or attorneys representing any parties involved in the claim.
Who Will Cover The Initial Medical Expenses?
A majority of the time, until the case is resolved, you are responsible for any initial medical expenses. Depending on your insurance coverage, you may only need to cover a portion of the expenses. If you do not have health insurance, you will likely be responsible for the entirety of your medical costs. If you chose to pursue a personal injury claim against the party responsible for your injuries, your attorney will include any existing and future medical expenses in the request for damages. It is always a good idea to retain any and all medical records, bills, and doctor's instructions regarding your injuries.
When Should I Contact a Lawyer?
When dealing with serious injuries, many people are unsure of the appropriate time to contact a lawyer. The short answer is: the sooner you contact an attorney, the better. However, you are free to contact an attorney at any time after you have been injured. At Gilman & Bedigian, our team will assist you in each step of your claim. We understand that every case is different, and each client has unique needs. We will stand by your side and fight for the compensation you deserve.
We offer a free phone consultation. When you contact our offices, you will be greeted by our experienced intake paralegal. You will be asked some questions, which will allow us to gain an understanding of exactly what happened. It is important to try to give as much detail as you can, so we can best prepare you for your case. Once our paralegal has obtained all of the necessary information, you will be notified as to whether or not we can move forward on your case, and what you may expect next.
What If I'm Injured On The Job?
If you have been injured at work, the most likely route to obtaining compensation will be by filing a Workers' Compensation claim. These claims are pursued through the Washington, D.C. Office of Workers' Compensation. As such, an employee is generally unable to bring a lawsuit against an employer for the injury. In lieu of having a jury award damages, when a claim is processed through Workers' Compensation, an administrative body will examine the circumstances in which the injury occurred, the severity of the injury, and the prognosis for recovery and/or permanent disability, then assign an amount of compensation. The Washington, D.C. Office of Workers' Compensation has fairly strict requirements and timeframes for reporting injuries which happen on the job. An experienced personal injury attorney can ensure that all guidelines are met and that your claim is filed in an appropriate and timely manner.
What Happens If I'm Injured On Hired Transportation?
If you were hurt while using any type of hired transportation in Washington, D.C., you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries. The law generally requires that transportation providers owe any passenger a duty of care. This duty entails operating any particular method of transportation in a reasonably safe manner which minimizes the risk of harm to passengers. If a provider breaches this duty by failing to take any precautionary measure necessary to safeguard passengers and an injury occurs, the provider may be liable to the passenger. The law governing liability of transportation providers (also known as “common carriers”) can be incredibly complex. An experienced personal injury attorney can examine the details of a specific case and provide guidance as to whether or not you may be able to recover.
What Happens If I'm Injured While I'm A Guest?
If you or someone you love has suffered an injury while visiting the property of another, whether it be a private individual or a public entity, your ability to pursue a personal injury claim as well as the types of damages you are able to recover will depend on several factors. The law classifies visitors to someone's property, or "entrants" as invitees, licensees, or trespassers. The manner in which a potential plaintiff is classified can affect his or her overall ability to recover compensation, as well as the level of liability that an owner or occupier of the land is subject to. Property owners with certain types of features that the law deems to be “attractive nuisances” to children can also have additional liability.
Each personal injury case is unique. The best way to learn more about the law related to a situation you may be facing is to speak with an experienced personal injury attorney. If you or a loved one has been injured and you are considering legal action, contact us today. At Gilman & Bedigian, we offer a free phone consultation and will be happy to answer any questions that you may have.