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Personal Injury FAQs

What is Personal Injury?

Personal injury refers to damage to one's physical body or mind — as opposed to one's property. Among the most common types of personal injuries that may result in compensation for the injured party are: motor vehicle accidents, slip and fall, dog bites, and wrongful death.

Personal injury may arise from an honest mistake that results in an accident or from sheer negligence — regardless, the high costs of medical care, income loss, and pain and suffering, are often more than an individual, or a family, can manage; requesting compensation through a personal injury claim is an appropriate remedy.

Two issues to be taken into consideration when examining a potential personal injury case are the establishment of damages and liability. A qualified attorney can review how the law in your state may be applied to your circumstances.

What is Negligence?

Negligence is defined as the omission of making reasonable efforts in ordinary circumstances to prevent an accident or situation that lead to personal injury. For example, the owner of a store who is aware of a spilled beverage on the floor but fails to warn customers and does not clean up the wet area in order to prevent a slip and fall accident is negligent.

What is Comparative Negligence?

In some instances, both parties bear a level of responsibility in a personal injury case. This is known as "Comparative Negligence," and a court may assess damages and adjust compensation accordingly. A skilled personal injury attorney can educate you regarding your true level of responsibility in circumstances where both contributed to the incident.

Will the person or institution that caused the personal injury receive a punishment other than monetary sanctions? Will I receive a punishment if I inadvertently cause an accident?

Generally, the law distinguishes between negligent actions and criminal offences, therefore a criminal punishment such as a prison sentence will not likely to be levied for a negligent action. It is also important to note that personal injury claims are handled in civil courts whereas crimes are handled in criminal courts.

However, there is an area of personal injury law that introduces the concept of "intentional wrongs" such as a "practical joke" that goes awry — a personal injury claim falling into this category could result in criminal liability — however, the proceedings for the personal injury claim under these circumstances would commence in a civil court as opposed to a criminal court. Situations such as this stress how complicated the law can be and the importance of consulting with a qualified attorney. For instance, most automobile insurance policies do not cover "intentional wrongs" — therefore, in the hypothetical event that another driver hit your car deliberately, you would most likely not be in a position to make a personal injury claim on an insurance policy. But if you are injured because a drunk driver hit your car, you should be covered for a personal injury claim even though drunk driving is a criminal offense in most states because it is not legally classified as intentional — once again highlighting the complexity of personal injury law and the necessity of seeking sound legal advice in all instances.

What if I am bitten by a dog? What if my dog bites someone?

In almost all instances, the owner of a dog that bites another person, most especially a child, is 100% responsible — even if the dog was provoked and had no history of attacks. Some homeowner's insurance policies will cover dog bite incidents, however, certain breeds may be excluded from a policy. It is always advisable to consult with a qualified attorney if you are involved in a dog incident, either as the dog owner or if you, or a member of your family, have suffered a dog bite.

What if I slip and fall?

"Slip and Fall" personal injury cases have gained a great deal of attention in the media but the laws surrounding these cases remain complex and require the analysis of a qualified attorney. In some instances, a property owner may not be considered liable or negligent if the injured party did not take reasonable care to avoid the accident — for instance, if a store owner warns customers not walk down a specific aisle due to a wet floor, a customer who deliberately ignores the warnings and then has a slip and fall, may not be entitled to compensation. There are many other factors to consider as well when investigating a slip and fall, such as building code violations, poor lighting, and obstacles carelessly preventing safe passage. ("Slip and Fall" is one type of "fall" injury addressed in personal injury claims; other types of fall injuries include: "trip-and-fall" and "stumble-and-fall").

What is No-Fault Insurance?

No-Fault is insurance that is intended to provide compensation to an injured person, regardless of who might be at fault for the accident. Said compensation can be for economic losses such as medical costs incurred, lost wages, as well as other expenses that are viewed as necessary such as expenses that are the result of a car accident. Usually, No-Fault coverage is valued at $50,000 for each person with suffering injuries.

What factors determine eligibility for No-Fault benefits?

You may be eligible to receive No-Fault benefits if: you incur an injury as a result of a car accident; you are hit by a car, a motorcycle, or an ATV (all terrain vehicle) while you are standing, walking, running or riding a bike or snowmobile; or you are injured while using a motor vehicle or performing maintenance (but not as part of your employment — in that case you might be eligible for workers compensation).

What if the injured party is a minor?

If a minor (someone under the age of 18) receives medical treatment as a result of an automobile accident, the parent or guardian is legally responsible for the medical bills. Thus, the parent or guardian must file the No-Fault application, and forward the minor's medical bills to the No-Fault insurance carrier, just as they would their own. Again, the No-Fault application must be filed within 30 days of the accident, or No-Fault benefits may be denied.

What other costs can I recover from No-Fault aside from medical bills?

You may be reimbursed by the No-Fault insurance carrier for lost earnings, prescription medication, travel expenses for medical treatment and household help while you are recovering from your injuries, as well as costs of child care you incurred while visiting medical providers.

Will No-Fault cover all of my lost income?

A. Generally, No-Fault coverage will reimburse lost earnings at a rate of 80 percent of your gross earnings up to a maximum of $2,000 per month for not more than 3 years from the date of the accident. However, you may have "additional" No-Fault coverage on your automobile insurance policy that provides a higher monthly wage benefit.

Am I still eligible for New York State disability benefits if I also have No-Fault coverage?

New York State Disability benefits are defined as temporary benefits paid to an eligible worker who is disabled by an off the job injury. The amount of disability you received will be deducted from your No-Fault income benefits. You must go through a separate application process to receive disability benefits.