Have you ever been injured in a car accident and been stuck with overwhelming medical bills? Or have you ever slipped and fallen because someone else didn’t de-ice a surface? Preventable injuries and even death happen more often than anyone would like. The CDC reported that more than 2 million people were injured in car accidents in 2018, more than 8 million were injured in falls, and over 300,000 in dog bite incidents.
- Does Your Case Qualify as Personal Injury?
- The Top 11 Types of Personal Injury Claims in Tulsa
- How Soon after a Personal Injury Accident Should I See a Doctor?
- How Much is a Typical Settlement and What Can I Be Compensated For?
- How Long Does it Take to Settle a Personal Injury Claim?
- Don’t Accept the First Offer from Insurance
- How Much Does a Personal Injury Lawyer Cost?
- Will My Personal Injury Case Go to Trial?
- The Statute of Limitations on Personal Injury Cases in Oklahoma
- No Pay, No Play Is Gone: If You Don’t Have Car Insurance, You Can Still Recover Damages from an Injury
- What Is Negligence? Will it Affect My Personal Injury Case?
- Tips for Your Personal Injury Case
- Strengthen Your Personal Injury Case with the Help of a Tulsa Personal Injury Attorney
If you have ever been injured or lost a loved one due to the negligence of someone else, you are not alone. Whether you are worried about covering the cost of medical bills, you’ve lost time at work, or other costs related to a personal injury, the experienced personal injury attorneys at Norwood Law Firm are here to help.
We’ve created this comprehensive guide to answer your questions about personal injury. Keep reading to discover what events personal injury covers and how a lawyer can help you get the compensation you need so you can focus on recovering.
Does Your Case Qualify as Personal Injury?
First, it’s important to know what personal injury is. Personal injury is an area of law that covers accidents and injuries that were caused by another party and cause the victim physical or emotional harm. These injuries are most often caused by the negligence of someone else, but some are caused intentionally. The victim of a personal injury may face loss of income from missed days at work, medical costs, loss of work, pain, emotional suffering, and other expenses related to adjusting after an injury, recovery, and more.
If you have suffered harm from an accident or injury and someone else is legally responsible for that harm, then yours is a personal injury case. Let’s look at 11 of the most common types of personal injury and how a lawyer can help.
The Top 11 Types of Personal Injury Claims in Tulsa
Assault Injury: Unlike other types of personal injury where the harm may be accidental, assault injury is no accident. Physical assault is defined as any intentional act that causes physical harm or causes another person to fear they are about to suffer physical harm. Broadly, assault is a violent physical act between two or more people.
In Oklahoma, assault injuries are divided into two categories: simple assault, where the harm is not intended to be life-threatening and no weapon is involved, and aggravated assault, where weapons are involved and the intent is to cause serious harm or injury. Cases of assault injury include:
- Hitting or punching
- Throwing objects at someone
Bad Faith Insurance Claim: In Oklahoma, insurance companies are expected to meet their obligations as outlined in the policy when claims arise. In some cases, however, insurers use bad faith tactics to avoid paying full benefits after an accident or injury. Examples of bad faith insurance practices include:
- Unreasonably denying benefits
- Undervaluing a claim
- Failing to investigate a claim or delaying investigation
- Misrepresenting benefits and coverage
- Delaying payment of a claim
If you have experienced any of these practices after filing an insurance claim, know that you can seek additional compensation for the harm resulting from bad faith insurance tactics. A qualified attorney can help hold the insurer accountable and you may receive additional compensation on top of the original claim.
Bicycle Accident: Bicycle accidents are another type of personal injury claim. Sharing the road with motorists means having similar rights and responsibilities as drivers, but it means there is risk. Most often, bicycle injury cases are caused by negligent drivers and cyclists are left with expensive injuries and other harm. Bicycle injury cases can also be caused by:
- collisions with trailers or boats pulled by vehicles
- dooring, or getting hit when a person opens the door of their vehicle
- collisions with distracted or impaired drivers
- faulty bicycle parts
Car Accident: Car accidents may be one of the most well-known types of personal injury cases. In Oklahoma, car accident injury cases are limited by modified comparable negligence. This means that if you are injured in a car accident, but the accident investigation determines you were at least 50% at fault for the accident, you are not eligible to recover damages. If you are less than 49% at fault, however, you will be able to sue for damages. In these cases, a car accident attorney will investigate the cause of the accident to establish fault and protect your interests.
Medical Malpractice: Medical malpractice occurs when a healthcare provider, a doctor, nurse, or other medical professional, fails to follow the accepted standard of care and causes an avoidable injury or death as a result. In most cases, these errors in treatment or diagnosis are the result of negligence. Examples of medical malpractice include:
- Birth trauma
- Emergency room errors
- Infections related to treatment
- Delays in diagnosis or misdiagnosis of serious conditions
- Surgical errors
- Medication errors
Motorcycle Accident: It’s estimated that motorcyclists are 27 times more likely to die in a vehicle crash than passengers in a car. They are also more likely to be injured. In Tulsa alone, 324 motorcyclists were injured or killed in crashes from 2017 to 2019. If you are injured in a motorcycle accident due to the negligence of another driver, you may have a personal injury claim.
Motor Vehicle Accident: Injuries and collisions are not limited to car or motorcycle accidents; occupants in any type of motor vehicle may be victims of a collision or accident. Common causes of accidents include:
- Reckless driving
- Distracted driving, such as texting and driving
- Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- Defects in the roadway or road signs
No matter the type of motor vehicle accident, if you have been injured in a collision that was not your fault, personal injury attorney Joe Norwood can help you seek compensation.
Slip & Fall: Slipping and falling on a wet floor, falling downstairs that are missing handrails, or tripping over torn carpeting are all examples of slip and fall injury cases. If you are injured in a slip and fall incident on someone else’s property, however, pursuing compensation is more complex than simply suing the property owner. In slip and fall cases, the injury must be caused either directly or indirectly by the property owner. The property owner may be at fault if they knew about dangerous conditions and failed to fix the problem, or if they could reasonably have been expected to have known about the dangerous surface.
Product Liability: Defective products, from children’s toys to improperly installed medical devices, can cause serious harm to the user. They may cause broken bones, illness, choking, or other hazards. If you are injured due to an unsafe product, the manufacturer or distributor may be held responsible for the injury and be held liable for the costs of any medical care, suffering, or other loss. Sources of product liability cases also include:
- Dangerous pharmaceutical drugs
- Faulty electronics
- Hazardous materials
- Dangerously designed machinery and tools
- Vehicle defects
Truck Accident: Because semi-trucks haul heavy loads, have large blind spots, and have a large presence on the road, truck drivers and trucking companies have increased responsibility to watch out for other vehicles and promote safe driving practices. When truck accidents do happen, injuries are likely. If truck drivers or their employers violate safety standards or are negligent in their driving, they may be held liable for any injuries or fatalities in the case of a crash.
Wrongful Death: Wrongful death claims arise when a loved one’s death is caused by another person’s negligence. Wrongful deaths may be caused by any of the previous ten types of accident or injury; they may be the result of a car accident, a faulty product, a fall, or other accident. In cases of fatal accidents, loved ones may pursue compensation for their loss to help offset end-of-life expenses and emotional pain and suffering.
How Soon after a Personal Injury Accident Should I See a Doctor?
If you’ve been involved in an accident, whether a car crash, a fall, an assault, or other personal injury incident, you should seek medical attention as soon as possible. Victims of personal injury are encouraged to see a doctor within 72 hours of the accident. A quick medical response will help ensure you get the treatment you need to recover from an injury. Seeing a doctor soon after an accident will also help establish the accident as the cause of any related injuries, allowing treatment costs to be included in the settlement amount for your claim. If injuries go undiagnosed, they may be excluded from the settlement, leaving you to deal with any pain and medical costs.
How Much is a Typical Settlement and What Can I Be Compensated For?
A 2019 survey found that most settlements for personal injury cases range from $3,000 to $75,000, though depending on your injury and circumstances, you may be entitled to more or less than those averages. Every settlement amount is calculated based on the cost of a few types of compensatory damages. These damages include:
- Medical treatment, which includes the cost of your medical care associated with the accident and an estimated cost of any medical treatment you will need in the future because of the accident.
- Loss of income. Injuries can have an impact on your salary, either through missed workdays, job loss, or because of the loss of earning capacity due to an injury.
- Property damage includes the cost of repairing any damage to vehicles, clothing, or other items that were damaged in a personal injury accident, or in some cases the value of replacing those items.
- Pain and suffering. This type of compensation covers physical pain from the accident, physical discomfort from required medical treatment for accident-related injuries, and the mental anguish, emotional distress, and psychological effects of an accident.
How Long Does it Take to Settle a Personal Injury Claim?
Every personal injury case is different; one case may take only weeks to settle while another may take one to two years to reach a settlement. The process of a personal injury case includes investigating the accident, gathering facts, and gathering information about damages, medical treatment and costs, and negotiating with the insurance provider. At Norwood Law Firm, we know that waiting for a settlement is not easy—you have medical and other bills to pay which may be putting undue strain on your finances and mental health. Our team will work to build a thorough case so you can receive the amount of compensation you need and deserve as soon as possible.
Don’t Accept the First Offer from Insurance
In personal injury cases, it is important to remember that insurance companies are a business. They are trying to make money, not pay it out in large amounts to victims of personal injury or accidents. An insurance adjuster may attempt to lower the settlement amount or avoid paying it altogether by attempting to blame you for the accident or by trying to claim another party is liable for the injury.
In other cases, companies may offer the lowest possible settlement, rather than the settlement you need and deserve. Even if the initial settlement offer seems reasonable, you may find that your expenses actually exceed that amount. If you accepted the offer, you will be unable to seek further compensation.
In order to get the compensation you deserve, you need a personal injury attorney on your side. If the insurance company is denying your claim or is offering an unreasonably low settlement, a lawyer can help. An experienced attorney from Norwood Law will keep your needs in mind throughout the settlement process and work to achieve the compensation you deserve.
Insurance companies also know it’s more difficult to take advantage of individuals who have legal representation. Having a lawyer on your side will give you greater negotiating power, allowing you to get the successful resolution you need to move forward.
How Much Does a Personal Injury Lawyer Cost?
Unlike some other types of cases, in personal injury cases, lawyers are paid on a contingency fee basis. This means there is no upfront cost and the lawyer will not receive a fee unless you receive a settlement. Upon recovery of damages, your attorney will receive a percentage of the settlement amount, usually from 25 to 50%. Since personal injury attorneys don’t get paid unless you do, they are motivated to pursue the compensation you deserve.
At Norwood Law Firm, we make sure everyone has access to a personal injury lawyer by offering free consultations as well.
Will My Personal Injury Case Go to Trial?
The majority of personal injury claims are settled out of court through negotiation or mediation and never go to trial. In most cases, the insurance company will extend a settlement offer and your personal injury lawyer will respond with a counteroffer or demand until the settlement falls within a range acceptable to both parties. In the case of a trial, a judge or jury will determine the settlement amount. Whether your case goes to trial or settles out of court, your personal injury attorney will be by your side to fight for your rights.
The Statute of Limitations on Personal Injury Cases in Oklahoma
Personal injury cases rely on evidence from the incident that caused the injury and on medical information and other evidence surrounding the injury. Because of this, it is best to file a personal injury case as soon as possible after an accident. The sooner you file, the better a lawyer will be able to help you navigate insurance claims and reach a beneficial settlement.
The statute of limitations on personal injury cases in Oklahoma is two years. This means you have two years from the day the injuries were suffered or discovered to file a claim. If you fail to file within that two-year window, you will be unable to recover damages from the injury.
No Pay, No Play Is Gone: If You Don’t Have Car Insurance, You Can Still Recover Damages from an Injury
From 2011 to 2015, Oklahoma’s “No Pay, No Play” law dictated that if a person was a victim in a car accident, and if they were not at fault for the accident, but at the time of the accident they did not have auto insurance, they could not recover damages for pain and suffering in a personal injury claim. This law put undue strain on victims of accidents. In 2015, personal injury attorney Joe Norwood brought this law to the Oklahoma State Supreme Court and succeeded in having the law repealed. Now, whether or not you have car insurance, if you are injured in an accident, and you are not at fault, you can seek compensation and get the settlement you need.
What Is Negligence? Will it Affect My Personal Injury Case?
Whether or not you are at fault in an accident will have a significant effect on your personal injury case. Negligence helps to determine fault in an accident, and determining fault helps to determine who is liable to pay damages in a personal injury case. Negligence is generally defined as acting in a careless manner which results in someone else being injured or in property being damaged.
In Oklahoma, comparative negligence is used to determine each party’s level of fault in personal injury cases. This means that when a victim is partially at fault for their injuries, the amount of compensation they are eligible for will be reduced proportionately to their level of fault. For example, in a case where a driver was going 5 mph over the speed limit and another car runs a red light and hits the first driver, a court might find the first driver 10% at fault for the accident because they were speeding. Because of this, their compensation would be limited to 90% of the potential settlement. If an injured person is found to be 50% or more at fault for an accident, they are unable to recover damages or seek compensation in a personal injury case.
A personal injury attorney will investigate the injury-causing incident to determine fault and work with you to help maximize your settlement.
Tips for Your Personal Injury Case
At Norwood Law Firm, we know that suffering an injury through no fault of your own can be overwhelming. Seeking reparation through a settlement can help you move forward. Working with an experienced personal injury lawyer and following these simple tips will help you get the greatest compensation for your injuries:
- Don’t assume an accident is your fault. Contact a lawyer to better understand the circumstances of the accident and find out if your case qualifies for seeking a settlement.
- Get medical treatment as soon as possible.
- Keep a record of your injuries and pain.
- Take pictures of any property damage.
- Beware of insurance agents and adjusters. In conversations about the accident, an insurance adjuster may try to argue your injuries or pain are less than they are or otherwise try to lessen your claim. Don’t make statements to an insurance adjuster without consulting an attorney.
- Don’t let the insurance adjuster pressure you into a settlement. Work with an attorney to get the full compensation you deserve.
Strengthen Your Personal Injury Case with the Help of a Tulsa Personal Injury Attorney
If you or a family member has been injured in an accident, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries. The experienced personal injury attorneys at Norwood Law can help you file your personal injury claim and work with you to seek the maximum settlement for your pain and suffering. Joe Norwood has fought to protect the rights of personal injury victims through to the Oklahoma Supreme Court and he will fight to defend your rights.
Get an experienced attorney on your side and contact Norwood Law Firm in Tulsa today for a free consultation.