Many people believe that we live in a litigious society. A quick online search for “sue happy Americans” brings up 1,830,000 results. While some lawsuits are frivolous, many personal injury claims are necessary to compensate victims and their families for physical harm and lost income. Below are five of the most common types of personal injury claims.
- Automobile Accidents
Not all car accidents are the fault of a driver. Sometimes icy, snowy, or wet weather creates unsafe driving conditions, which can lead to no-fault accidents. However, accidents do happen because of negligent or distracted driving. In 2009, according to the US Bureau of Transportation Statistics, there are 254,212,610 registered passenger vehicles in the country. Of these, 7,929,724 were motorcycles, and 193,979,654 were “light-duty vehicles, short wheel base.” This statistic does not include bicycles, but the number of cyclists on the road has increased steadily since 2008, despite the cost of gas decreasing overall. In addition to the huge number and variety of vehicles on the road, drivers are becoming more and more distracted. According to an article in the Washington Post in 2010, 28% of traffic accidents involve talking on a phone, or texting and driving. Other forms of distracted driving include eating, talking to passengers, using a navigation system or reading a map, grooming, or adjusting the car radio. Some estimates state that a person is injured in a car accident every 14 seconds in the United States.
If a victim’s medical bills are very high, they miss work or are unable to work due to injury, or the victim’s family suffers a significant financial loss, the victim or the victim’s family have a right to file a personal injury claim against the perpetrator. However, the perpetrator’s car insurance company will be heavily involved in litigation, as they are liable for damages.
- Work-related Injuries
There are many dangerous jobs that inherently increase a worker’s risk of injury, including jobs that involve heavy lifting or machinery. However, any job carries some risk of injury, whether it’s a repetitive stress injury, or something unsafe in the work environment. While employees should do their best to be safe in their working environment, companies are required to maintain safe spaces, and carry Workers Compensation Insurance. The Bureau of Labor Statistics recorded over 3 million non-fatal work-related accidents in 2009, and 5,000 fatal work-related accidents in 2010. However, many injuries go unreported because employees do not want to risk being fired, so instances of injury on the job are much higher.
As an employee, it is important to report work-related injuries or accidents. If you have a legitimate need, Workers Compensation Insurance exists to help you while you recover from your accident. If your employer does not respect your injury claim, or pressures you to keep it quiet, you may need to seek a personal injury attorney.
- Slip and falls/unsafe conditions
According to the National Safety Council reports, in 2007, 20,000 Americans died because of slipping or falling, and 7 million suffered injuries. While these injuries can happen anywhere, including at home, they sometimes occur on someone’s property, or in a business. Businesses and property owners have a legal responsibility to keep their premises safe to visitors. Slipping or falling can cause serious injury to the head, neck, or spine, and businesses and property owners must do everything they can to prevent those injuries from happening. Sometimes, simply posting a warning sign is not enough. However, these claims are difficult to prove, as negligence must be clearly demonstrated. If you injured yourself on someone’s property, or in a business, and you believe your injury was caused by negligence, consult a personal injury attorney immediately.
- Product Liability
If you use a product for its intended purpose – whether it the product is a toy, vehicle, drug, or food – you have a right to expect the item to work as advertised. One estimate states that nearly 7% of all personal injury claims are product liability claims. Companies have a responsibility to test their products, and make truthful claims about their use and safety. If you or someone you love has suffered an injury because of an unsafe product, you may have a right to compensation.
- Medical Malpractice
This type of personal injury claim is highly controversial, and very common. Medical professionals – whether they are doctors, nurses, anesthesiologists, radiologists, physician assistants, pharmacists, or dentists – have a legal responsibility to provide patients with what is called “reasonably competent care.” Physicians claim that many malpractice suits are frivolous, while lawyers argue that doctors must be held accountable for their negligence. In a controversial op-ed piece in the New York Times, Dr. Sanjay Gupta boldly stated that more medical malpractice occurs because doctors are afraid of such lawsuits, and therefore order more tests and treatments than necessary.
Medical malpractice suits are complicated, as the victim must prove that malpractice is responsible for their injuries. Juries must determine, when evidence is brought forth, whether other doctors or nurses would have followed the same course of treatment – for example, emergency room doctors may or may not have information on hand regarding which drugs you are allergic to. If you suspect your rights as a patient have been violated, you should consult with a personal injury attorney immediately.
The experienced attorneys at Strom Law, LLC work with clients every day on personal injury claims like the ones listed above. If you or a loved one have been injured due to negligence or misinformation, you may have a right to compensation. Please contact us today for a free consultation. 803.252.4800.