How is Compensation for Personal Injury Determined?

Keith Koons

Claiming compensation for personal injury involves many different factors, such as the extent of injury, the circumstances of the incident, the burden of proof, and the time limit in which the claim must be entered. Under most personal injury guidelines, it must first be determined whether or not the injury was caused intentionally or unintentionally and if the action constitutes failure to use responsible care. In view of the fact that compensation is determined on a case-by-case basis, lawyers often represent their clients on a contingency fee basis, which means that legal fees are paid only when the case has been won, at which time a lawyer is entitled to a percentage of the compensation for personal injury.

Personal injury lawyers specialize in representing clients who have brought suits involving injuries.
Personal injury lawyers specialize in representing clients who have brought suits involving injuries.

An injured party can file a compensation claim for general damages, which can include payment for pain and suffering and the loss of future earnings; he or she also can file a claim for special damages, which are awarded for financial loss caused by the accident. Some of these factors may include medical expenses, long-term healthcare costs, and travel costs. In the case of shared damages in which the injured party is partly to blame for the accident, damage and compensation awards can be substantially reduced. The amount of information gathered can also affect the compensation for personal injury since insurance companies tend to offer lesser settlements when abundant proof is not available.

Many personal injury claims come from people involved in auto accidents.
Many personal injury claims come from people involved in auto accidents.

Another type of compensation for personal injury might be damages that apply to actions such as slander, libel, and false imprisonment. Once it has been determined whether the injury was intentional or negligent, a degree of fault typically is defined. Depending on the outcome, the defendant can be awarded payment of the losses caused by an accident or additional punitive damages. Often, the intention is as much to reform the defendant as it is to discourage him from any similar future action. In the case of negligence, when the injury wasn't caused intentionally, the swaying factor is often the defendant's overall actions regarding the matter and how much effort was placed toward correcting the plaintiff's claim.

Workers that are injured while at work may be entitled to workers' compensation disability benefits.
Workers that are injured while at work may be entitled to workers' compensation disability benefits.

Workers compensation, on the other hand, is based on workers waiving their rights to sue the employer in exchange for medical care if an injury should occur during course of a work shift. This arrangement is called "the compensation bargain," and it allows workers to have limited coverage and guaranteed benefits that would be payable to the families in case of accidental death or dismemberment that occurs during a work shift. General and punitive damages for employer negligence are not usually included in compensation for personal injury.

Punitive damages may be awarded in addition to compensatory damages after a car accident.
Punitive damages may be awarded in addition to compensatory damages after a car accident.

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