My Love Of The Law

How Do Personal Injury Lawsuits Work?

by Alan Medina

If you were injured and feel that another party was to blame, then you have the ability to file a lawsuit and hopefully recover some of your damages. However, the process is quite a bit more complicated than you might imagine, with tons of laws to worry about and dramatic differences between states in how personal injury lawsuits are handled. To help you get a better idea of how the process works, here are some of the most important topics that you will need to tackle:

The Statute of Limitations

First of all, you will need to carefully examine when the injury actually happened and how long you have to officially file your lawsuit. This period of time is the statute of limitations, which varies a lot from state to state. The statute of limitations in most states ends up being 2-4 years, but some are as short as a 1 and others are as long as 6.

There can also be separate numbers for different circumstances, which often arises in cases of medical malpractice. For example, the discovery rule allows you to file your lawsuit long after the statute of limitations expired, but it only applies when you could not have known about your injury prior to discovering it. However, for medical malpractice cases, there is often a hard limit that prevents you from filing after a certain number of years, even if you were physically unable to discover your injury beforehand.

Comparative Negligence

Second, you will need to consider the concept of comparative negligence. The short version is that comparative negligence will reduce your winnings if the court finds that you were partially responsible for your accident. Some states will bar you from receiving any compensation at all if you were even 1% to blame, while other states will allow you to collect some money even if you were 99% to blame. However, the reduction in winnings is almost always proportional to the level of responsibility, so if you were 99% to blame, then you would only get 1% of the money that you would get otherwise.

Damage Caps

Many states also have strict caps on noneconomic and punitive damages. However, there are usually no caps on regular economic damages. This means that your medical bills, auto repair bills, lost wages, and other solidly quantitative damages are not subject to caps. However, damages for your pain and suffering can be capped, which you will need to factor into your considerations.

Personal injury attorneys can help with such situations, so find one in your area if you have other questions or concerns.