One of the first things a person wants to know after they’ve been in a serious accident is whether or not they have any legal recourse to file a personal injury claim. While every case is different, there are generally three initial criteria that must be met in order to have a claim worth pursuing:
If you believe your situation satisfies the criteria above, it would be wise to seek the counsel of a personal injury attorney as soon as possible.
The viability of your claim and the amount of compensation you may receive depends in large part on how severe your injuries are, the amount of medical bills you incurred, and the length of your recovery and rehabilitation. Injuries sustained in an accident range from minor scrapes and burns to more traumatic and catastrophic injuries that are permanent and debilitating. An insurance company will want to know how the injury has specifically affected your life. Do you have difficulty conducting your usual daily activities? Can you no longer perform the tasks of your job? Will you require long-term care?
Soft Tissue Injuries: A soft tissue injury involves damage to the muscles and tendons in the body. The most common soft tissue injuries include sprains, tears, and strains in the back, neck, shoulder, knee, or legs.
Traumatic Injuries: A traumatic injury results from blunt force or trauma to some part of the body which can cause lacerations, contusions, bruises, muscular injury, bleeding, and other internal and external injuries.
Scarring Injuries: Some accidents can cause a victim to receive lacerations or burns on their skin which can lead to permanent scarring, deformity or disfiguration.
Broken Bones: Broken bones are common in motor vehicle accidents and falls. Broken bones may heal with time but others require surgery to install plates, screws or other hardware to stabilize the injury.
Facial Injuries: Injuries to the face frequently occur in car crashes when one’s face makes contact with a steering wheel, airbag, windshield, window, dashboard or broken glass. This can lead to eye injuries resulting in partial vision loss or blindness; injuries to the ear that result in loss of hearing; facial or jaw fractures; and dental injuries, including loss of teeth.
Head and Brain Trauma: A head injury can occur in any accident. A closed head injury happens when an object strikes the head causing injury to the brain whereas a penetrating brain injury occurs when an object pierces the skull and enters the brain tissue. A traumatic brain injury (TBI) can be as mild as a concussion and as serious as partial or full impairment of motor skills, speech, vision, concentration, memory and emotional control.
Neck and Back Injuries: Neck and back injuries are common in traffic accidents and falls. Car accident victims often experience “whiplash” — a sudden jarring or hyper-extension of the neck in which it stretches and snaps back into place upon impact. Whiplash can damage the vertebrae, ligaments or disks, or the spinal cord itself, in the neck and back. In severe cases, it can cause spinal cord damage which may affect mobility and cause paralysis. Other back injuries can include bulging discs, herniated or ruptured discs, pinched or damaged nerves.
Spinal Cord Injuries: Spinal cord injuries occur when trauma causes a bruise or tear in the bundle of nerves which make up your spinal cord. These injuries can occur in the cervical (neck), thoracic (chest), lumbar (lower back) and sacral (pelvis) regions and can result in total or partial paralysis. Spinal cord injuries require surgery, assistive devices, and ongoing rehabilitation.
Amputations: loss of a body part
Psychological Injuries: emotional distress, depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder