Categories of personal injury and wrongful death claims
Personal injury and wrongful death claim are usually one of three types of claims:
- claims for negligence,
- claims for an intentional tort, or
- claims for strict liability.
Of the three types, negligence claims are the most common. Generally, a defendant is negligent if he does something a person of ordinary prudence would not do under the same or similar circumstances or he fails to do that which a person of ordinary prudence would do under the same or similar circumstances. Negligence law thereby imposes a “reasonable man” standard on a defendant's conduct. Intentional torts are torts where the defendant's actions were intentional rather than negligent. Examples include assault, libel and slander. Finally, claims for strict liability are based on the dangerousness of a product or premises. No negligence or intent need be shown.
Damages are available for personal injury and wrongful death claims
Persons or their families who have suffered serious injury or death may be entitled to compensation for their losses. Such compensation can be for economic or non-economic damages. Economic damages are those which can be calculated or quantified, including lost wages, past medical bills, loss of earning capacity, future medical bills and funeral bills. Non-economic damages are for intangible injuries such as physical pain, mental anguish and loss of companionship. In a case involving a serious injury or death, economic and non-economic damages can easily be in the hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars.
It is important to understand that personal injury and wrongful death claims must be brought within a certain period of time, called the “statute of limitations.” Claims not brought within such time are barred as a matter of law. Figuring out the statute of limitations for a particular claim can be extremely difficult. Different states have different statutory time periods. Some states recognize the “discovery rule” which allows a plaintiff to bring a claim within a certain time of learning they have a claim rather than within a certain time of suffering their injury.
The classic example of such a claim is a one based on a doctor leaving a sponge or other foreign body inside a patient after surgery; in most states, the time to bring a claim under these facts does not begin to run until the patient actually learns that some foreign body was left inside him, rather than from the date of the surgery. In the context of a claim for wrongful death, most states apply their statute of limitations beginning on the date of death, regardless of whether the decedent's family knew they had a claim at the time.
Statutes of limitations for personal injury and wrongful death claims vary from one to six years, with two years being the most common among the various states. Because of the complexity involved in determining the applicable statute of limitations, it is very important that victims contact a qualified attorney the moment they feel they may have a claim for personal injury or wrongful death. If they delay, they can lose their claim forever.
Many clients are concerned that they cannot afford an experienced, qualified attorney to handle their personal injury or wrongful death claim. Heygood, Orr & Pearson, however, handles almost all such claims on a “contingent fee” basis. A contingent fee is a fee based on a percentage (usually 40 percent) of any actual recovery. Under such an agreement, the attorney typically pays all out-of-pocket expenses necessary to prosecute the case and is reimbursed for such expenses only in the event the client recovers money through a trial or settlement. Similarly, the attorney only earns a fee – a percentage of the money received – if the client recovers money. Contingent fees allow injured persons and their families to afford top-notch legal representation without taking any personal financial risk.
Hiring the right lawyer for a personal injury or wrongful death case
To successfully bring about a personal injury or wrongful death claim, clients need an experienced, educated attorney on their side. They also need an attorney with the financial resources to take the case to trial.
At S.D. Matthews & Associates, we have tried literally hundreds of cases to verdict and have settled hundreds more. Stewart D. Matthews & Associates also has the financial resources to handle personal injury cases from beginning to end. In fact, there are many instances when we have invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in a case in order to take it to trial. Based in Ennis, Texas, our law firm is prepared to handled cases involving personal injury and wrongful death that have occurred not only in North Texas but in other states as well. At Stewart D. Matthews & Associates, we are committed to achieving justice for our clients, whatever the cost.
If you have suffered a serious personal injury or a loved one has suffered a serious injury or death as the result of the actions of another person or entity, you may have a claim for compensation. Contact us by calling (972) 398-6666 for your free case evaluation and to learn more about your legal right to compensation.