You may hear it all the time on television–do you need a personal injury lawyer? Well, what is a personal injury? All injuries are to someone’s person. What exactly are they asking?
If you have been injured, physically or psychologically, as a result of the negligence or wrongdoing of another person, company, government agency, or other entity, you have suffered a personal injury. You may also have a legal claim for damages. The basic question is someone other than yourself liable (responsible) for your injuries? If so, what is the nature and extent of your damages? When someone else is responsible for the cause of your injury, the legal system cannot restore you back to the state you were before you suffered the injury. So, the only remedy you can receive is monetary damages.
There are basically two (2) types of damages for personal injury–compensatory damages and punitive damages. Punitive damages are meant to deter the injurious behavior from repeating itself in the future and are not available for every injury claim. Compensatory damages are special damages, which are economic losses such as loss of earnings, property damage and medical expenses, and general damages, which are non-economic damages such as pain and suffering and emotional distress. Pain and suffering are legal terms for the physical and emotional stress caused from an injury. Some damages that might come under this category would be: aches, temporary and permanent limitations on activity, potential shortening of life, depression or scarring.
Examples of personal injury claims include car accidents, slip and fall incidents, and medical malpractice, among other types of cases. You should note that a personal injury claim, by definition, does NOT include a claim for damage done to property, such as an automobile or its contents. Finally, all states, including Pennsylvania, place time limits for filing lawsuits. For most personal injury matters such lawsuits must be filed within two (2) years of the date when the injury occurred. It is strongly recommended you meet with a personal injury attorney as close to the time of your injury as possible.