Personal injury cases do not result in a guilty or innocent verdict. They are civil actions, and the victim is rewarded by receiving financial compensation through injury settlements and court judgments.
Understanding Financial Compensation
Financial compensation given to a victim of a personal injury is referred to as compensatory damages. They are categorized in two different ways: general damages and special damages. The purpose of this compensation is to help a victim get back to the position they were in prior to the injury.
What Are Special Damages
Special damages are directly connected to the accident or to the injury. They are very easy to quantify, document and prove. They are divided into four principal categories:
Medical Costs– This is designed to reimburse the victim for any medical treatment they received right after the accident as well as any continued treatment they received.
Lost Income– Lost income is any money that was lost from the day of the injury to the present day, as well as any income that will be lost in the future.
Out-Of-Pocket Expenses- This includes any costs connected to the injury that the victim would not have had to pay for if they were never injured.
Personal Property Damage– This is any personal items that were damaged or destroyed during the accident. It could include repairing a vehicle as well as replacing cell phones, laptops, or any other items that were damaged.
When people think about personal injury, they relate it only to the physical injuries that the victim suffered from. However, many overlook the long-term emotional distress and mental anguish that victims experience as a result of the negligence or the willful act of another. Claims adjusters tend to think that emotional stress is a trick that victims use to get more money out of their insurance company, on top of the physical injury itself. Nothing could be farther from the truth.
Emotional distress is very real, indeed, and it can have a debilitating life-altering consequences on the victims. Sufferers usually go through intense emotional periods of processing and living with the experience. Whether the injury was from an assault, a car accident, or an attack by a dog, both the physical and emotional injuries caused can change a victim’s life forever.
Emotional distress will present itself in different degrees, depending on the type of injury and the circumstances. An attorney can negotiate with an insurance adjuster compensation for emotional distress, and this is quantified by focusing on the following symptoms:
• Loss of consortium
Attorneys should provide clear evidence of how the symptoms of emotional distress have affected their client. They must present specific examples of how their client has suffered—whether it’s from lack of sleep, or inability to focus on work responsibilities. The proof should show the tangible evidence of emotional distress, and the accident’s emotional toll on their client and the victim’s family.
When an individual has been injured or has become too ill to work, long-term disability insurance can provide them the financial protection they need. It can be frustrating for a sick or injured employee when their company’s insurance plan denies them their benefits.
There is a stark difference between disability claims that are filed with the federal government, such as Social Security disability, and those that are filed with private insurance companies. The government strives to be impartial whereas private insurance companies generally do not. The more claims private insurance companies are able to deny, the healthier their bottom line becomes.
To this end, some insurance companies might use certain tactics in order to deny benefits unfairly. For example, it is not uncommon for them to use surveillance to monitor the activity of individuals applying for benefits. They may take photographs or record video of an applicant taking out the trash, grocery shopping or bending over to pet a dog. They may even accuse the applicant of lying about their condition.
Video footage is deceptive because it does not show the entire picture. An applicant may be recorded bending over to pick up a heavy bag, however, the video may not even show the pain the applicant is in for the rest of the day because of making that small movement. Attorneys work with their clients to fight partial video evidence with the goal of painting an accurate picture of their client’s condition.
You’ve been hurt in an accident, but you’re not sure whether to contact a lawyer. No one wants to imagine the hassle of a legal battle, but it’s important that you seek legal consultation right away in cases of personal injury. Otherwise, you could miss your opportunity due to what’s known in legal terms as “statute of limitations.”
What is Statute of Limitations?
A statute of limitations is the amount of time you have to file a lawsuit from the time of injury. The general deadline in Massachusetts is three years. That may seem like a long time, but there are factors that can limit or affect the time you have to file.
Why Seek Legal Help Now?
Depending on your personal situation, the statute of limitations could actually be less than three years. For example, if a suit is against a government entity, the deadline could be shortened. In addition, the full extent of injuries aren’t always apparent. You may discover that your health and lifestyle are greatly diminished long after the accident occurs. Seeking legal assistance now will at least present you with your options.
What Kind of Compensation is Possible?
The costs of an accident can be great. There are physical and emotional tolls, as well as financial obligations. If you are not at fault, you should not be stuck with the bill. In order to receive financial compensation, it’s imperative that you file before the statute of limitations expires.
When it comes to dealing with the at fault driver, or more specifically that person’s liability insurer, there is no duty to cooperate. Quite the contrary. Liability carriers will want to limit liability by minimizing the severity of injuries or by trying to find ways to shift blame to the injured person or another driver. You must exercise caution and not rush into a settlement until the full extent of your injuries are determined and other damages are assessed completely, and you will want to have an experienced personal injury attorney acting on your behalf. You will want your settlement or damage award to fully compensate for your injuries.
Legal firms serving the residents of Massachusetts, such as The Law Offices of Terrence A. Low and Anthony J. Canata, have extensive experience handling personal injury cases. A personal injury attorney can provide legal advice for dealing with no fault or PIP insurers and satisfying the requirements to help you avoid costly mistakes.
In Massachusetts, the statute of limitations for filing for workers compensation benefits is four years. Chapter 152 under the General Laws of Massachusetts states “for injuries on or after January 1, 1986, a claim must be filed with the insurer within four (4) years of the date an employee becomes aware of the causal connection between their disability and their employment.” Note that the law focuses on the time when the claimant became aware that his injury is work related, which in some cases can be some time after the time of the injury. This is especially important for claims in which the claimant develops an injury or disease after repeated exposure to a toxic substance at work, or develops an injury over time and only later learns that it was something she was doing at work that caused the problem.
If your employer an LTD plan and you are a participant in that plan, chances are that the plan contains a “discretionary clause.” This means that the plan administrator’s decisions about your eligibility for benefits can only be challenged in federal court on the grounds that the decision was an abuse of discretion. As the case of McDonough v. Biogen shows, whether or not a plan contains a discretionary clause is vitally important when it comes to obtaining LTD benefits. If you have an LTD plan through your employer and are in the process of obtaining benefits, consult with disability lawyers to determine whether your plan contains a discretionary clause and what you need to do if it does.
Be prepared and know what you must do to obtain and protect your long term disability benefits in Massachusetts. Consult with your local Northampton, MM lawyers like Terrence A. Low and Anthony J. Canata who can help you to fight for your rights.