My clients have asked me many legal questions throughout the years, but sometimes neglect to ask the most basic ones. We talk a lot about depositions and IME’s, but what follows is at the core of the area of law that I practice – personal injury.
First, you should understand that personal injury law cases are civil lawsuits. That means that they address civil wrongs, and they do not result in anyone being convicted of a crime or being sentenced to prison. The only compensation for these wrongs is financial; that is, the wronged individual receives money from the individual or entity determined to have caused that wrong. My firm focuses on cases involving motor vehicle accidents, slip and falls, and construction site accidents as a result of negligence. However, this area of the law, also known as tort law, also includes medical malpractice, assault, and defective products leading to injury, among others.
Sometimes, so angry at the negligence that caused their accidents, clients will ask whether we can sue to send the person responsible to prison. The answer is, absolutely not. Cases that seek to impose that kind of punishment are all addressed in criminal court. An injured person may be involved in both a civil litigation as well as a criminal case for the same accident, but they are separate entities, and if you are retaining me, the only thing we will seek is monetary compensation.
As I mentioned, The Noll Law Firm mostly handles slip and fall accidents, motor vehicle accidents, and construction site accidents. But in some of these cases, who to sue can be complicated. For instance, if you slip and fall on uneven pavement, the negligent individual or entity can be multi-layered. That is, street and sidewalk maintenance may be the responsibility of the city/town, the business owner (if you fell in front of a retail business or office building), or the property owner. Sometimes, the responsibility is shared among 2 or 3 entities. In which case, all would be involved in the lawsuit.
There also are times when a motor vehicle accident involves more than one negligent person or entity. For instance, if you are hit by a truck owned by a separate corporation, that corporation would be the focus of our lawsuit.
We also handle workplace accidents and negligence. This might include being injured due to faulty equipment, or dangerous working conditions (including toxic chemicals and fumes). Often, these cases are handled (and compensation is limited) through the Workers’ Compensation Board. However, there are circumstances where you could sue for damages in a civil suit as well.
In that instance, an experienced personal injury attorney would have to review all the facts of the case, and look at the history of the company and its adherence to OSHA laws (Occupational and Safety Health Administration).
Why Can’t My Family Lawyer Handle My Case?
Your family lawyer could, handle your case, but that is not particularly advantageous to you, unless that person is experienced in personal injury law. Like most professions, the law has its areas of specialty. And, the law changes constantly, making it difficult for someone who is a generalist to stay on top of it. For example, if you have an ulcer, you typically want to see a gastroenterologist, not an orthopedic surgeon. That is because the doctor who specializes in gastroenterology has the most current information at his/her fingertips, has studied gastroenterology exclusively for many years, and can offer you a sounder opinion of your condition as well as better ways to resolve your problem. The same is true for an attorney who focuses solely on personal injury law.
How Will I Handle The Expenses From My Injury?
Typically, your medical expenses should be covered by no fault insurance from your automobile insurance policy. You should not have to pay out-of-pocket for office visits, treatments, or diagnostic tests. As for loss of income, that should be a part of the damages we seek in your personal injury lawsuit. Ideally, if we win the lawsuit, you should be reimbursed.
I Cannot Afford An Attorney
At The Noll Law Firm, we work on a contingency basis. That means, that our fee is deducted from the award, at the end. Meanwhile, we will review your case, free of charge, to see whether you have a viable claim.
What Happens if The Negligent Person Has Little To No Insurance?
Although this would make it difficult to recover all damages, you should be able to recover some, under New York State Law.