Personal Injury/Wrongful Death/Medical Malpractice
Personal Injury/Wrongful Death/Medical Malpractice
1. What is the first thing I should do if I’m involved in an accident?
Regardless of whether you are injured as the result of a motor vehicle accident, slip and fall, dog bite, etc. the first and most important step is to make sure you seek the appropriate medical care. The kind of medical care you may require will depend on the nature and severity of your injuries. Sometimes, your injuries will be obvious right away, and you will be brought to the hospital by ambulance. Other times, such as if you sustain a neck or low back sprain, you may not realize you are injured until several days after the accident.
If you are injured in an accident, but do not have health insurance (or have high deductibles/co-pays) you may be hesitant to seek medical care. In some situations, your attorney may be able to find a doctor to treat you on a “letter of protection.” Under this agreement, the doctor agrees to hold off on collecting payment until after your case resolves, and will be repaid out of your recovery.
2. How long do I have to bring an injury case?
In Connecticut, you generally have two years from the date of the accident to bring a personal injury or medical malpractice action against the person or entity that causes you harm. This means that you must have filed a lawsuit against the defendant(s) or resolved your case within 2 years from the date of the accident. There are certain exceptions to this general rule, such as the one year time limitation to bring a Dram Shop claim (i.e. a claim against a bar or restaurant for over-serving someone who has caused you harm as a result of their intoxication). In certain situations, you may need to provide written notice to a defendant of your intention to bring a claim within a much shorter time period. For instance, you must provide written notice to a town or city within 90 days for a sidewalk defect case. Likewise, if you must provide written notice to a bar or restaurant within 120 days in order to bring a Dram Shop claim. These notice letters must meet very strict requirements as set forth by the Connecticut legislature, and should therefore be crafted by an experienced personal injury lawyer.
Unfortunately, if you miss these time deadlines, you will almost certainly be barred from recovering from the person or entity that caused you harm. To ensure that you do not miss any necessary deadlines, we highly recommend that you consult with a lawyer within a few weeks once you sustain your injuries. <
3. What if the person who injured me has no insurance?
If you are injured in a car accident that was caused by a person with no car insurance, or with an insufficient amount of insurance coverage, you may still be able to recover compensation for your injuries through your own car insurance company. If you have car insurance, you have something called uninsured/underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) coverage. This coverage is in place specifically for situations where you are injured at the hands of a driver with either no car insurance or not enough car insurance to fairly compensate you for your injuries. UM/UIM motorist coverage is a protection that all of us pay for in our monthly premiums, and your car insurance company cannot legally raise your rates in retaliation for bringing a UM/UIM claim. Even if you don’t own a car, you may be able to pursue a UM/UIM claim if you reside with a family member who does.”
4. Can I recover compensation for my injuries without actually filing a lawsuit?
In some cases, yes. Once you have finished treatment for your injuries, the defendant and/or their insurance company may express an interest in resolving the case without formal litigation. Cases that settle without litigation may resolve for a smaller total sum than would be achieved settling on the eve of trial, but may also lead to a greater net recovery for the client because the costs of litigation are avoided. Furthermore, clients are spared a long and drawn-out case where they may be subject to the discovery and deposition process. Car accident cases where one party was clearly at fault are most often the cases that can settle without a lawsuit.
In certain situations, such as medical malpractice cases or cases involving serious injuries with disputed liability, it may make sense to file a lawsuit immediately rather than waste time trying to resolve the case without litigation. When to file a lawsuit depend on the facts and circumstances of each particular case.
5. What is my personal injury case worth?
In a personal injury case, the injury victim is entitled to be compensated for both their “economic damages” and “non-economic damages”
Economic damages are essentially those financial losses which incurred because of an injury. Economic damages include:
- Past Medical Bills- You are entitled to be compensated for the past medical bills you have incurred as a result of your accident.
- Future Medical Bills- In addition to past medical bills, you are entitled to compensation for any future medical bills that you will likely incur as a result of your personal injuries.
- Past Lost Wages- You are entitled to all of the lost pay you incurred as a result of your injuries. Unbeknownst to most clients, personal injury claimants are entitled to be paid a full day’s salary even for those days where they were paid with sick or vacation time.
- Future Loss of future earning capacity- In some unfortunate situations, a person’s injuries may be so severe that they will prevent that person from earning a living in the future. This is common among those who suffer traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) or paralysis. When someone suffers a loss of future earning capacity, they are entitled to all of the money they would have earned from working had they not been injured
- Other past/future out-of-pocket expenses
Non-economic damages, also known as “pain and suffering”, are those losses which do not have a set monetary value. Quantifying non-economic damages can be extremely difficult, and often injured parties and the opposing defendants will have vastly different opinions as to how to value a person’s non-economic damages. For this reason, it is extremely important to have competent and knowledgeable representation for an injury case.