Jacksonville Law Office
When you suffer injuries because of someone else’s actions or negligence, you should not have to foot the subsequent bills or face an uncertain financial future. Through a personal injury claim settlement, you can have your bills covered, stabilize your finances, and get justice.
Should you experience injuries and financial and emotional hardship from a car, slip and fall, or other accident in Jacksonville, connect with Ricci Law Firm Injury Lawyers. Our team is dedicated to advocating for accident victims and securing the compensation they deserve. We are ready to fight for you.
Personal Injury Claims
Personal injury laws are intended to bring justice to victims injured by intentional or negligent acts. This justice comes in the form of monetary compensation, which is not only deserved but needed, as injury victims suffer physically, emotionally, and financially.
To get that settlement, you must prove the defendant’s fault. Your best course of action is to connect with a Jacksonville personal injury attorney from Ricci Law Firm Injury Lawyers as soon as possible after your accident. Your attorney will give you and your case the individualized attention it deserves and will only accept payment once you receive your settlement.
There are four elements of negligence your attorney must establish to prove the defendant’s culpability.
Duty of Care
The at-fault party owed you a “duty” or had an obligation to act in ways to preserve your safety or avoid actions compromising your safety. For example, every driver on the road owes others sharing the roads, whether vehicle operators, bicyclists, pedestrians, or construction workers, a duty of care and must obey all traffic laws and avoid unsafe driving behaviors.
Similarly, property owners, such as retail store owners, must keep their walkways free of ice or other dangerous conditions, remove obstacles or other hazards from store aisles, and mark wet floors. Homeowners must warn guests of potential dangers, such as broken steps or railings, and if they own pools, trampolines, or other “attractive nuisances,” must keep them properly secured.
Breach of Duty of Care
The next step is proving the at-fault party failed to uphold their duty of care. Perhaps a driver texted while driving or blew through a stop sign, or an airbag manufacturer developed a faulty product. Maybe a commercial truck operator failed to properly secure their cargo load.
The Breach Caused the Accident
It is not enough for the at-fault party to have breached their duty of care. To prove negligence, you must prove the breach caused the accident leading to your injuries. For example, your attorney will show that the texting driver’s distraction–not something else–led to your accident, that items released from an unsecured truck load caused you to lose control of your vehicle, or that you slipped because a floor was wet but left unmarked as a place to use caution.
The Accident Caused Damages
Finally, your Jacksonville personal injury lawyer will show how the accident caused by the at-fault party’s breach of duty brought you measurable damages. Physical injuries, damaged property, and other financial losses are easier to quantify, but your attorney will also calculate values for your non-tangible damages, such as emotional distress and physical suffering.
Types of Personal Injury Claims
Any accident leading to injury or death may be grounds for a personal injury claim. When a negligent party causes you harm, it is your right to seek compensation.
Motor Vehicle Accident
Motor vehicle accidents can happen on the roads or even on the water (boats, jet skis, etc.) and typically produce serious injuries and property damage. While the process for filing a claim and pursuing damages is the same for privately owned and driven vehicles, such as cars, motorcycles, or boats, there are particular regulations operators of these vehicles must follow, and your attorney will expose any lapses.
Accidents with rideshare vehicles present other complexities, as do those with vehicles owned by a company, such as commercial trucks. If the vehicle is owned by a government entity, you must follow the specific rules governing those claims.
The various regulations, complexities, and rules for filing make it essential to have a knowledgeable personal injury lawyer on your side.
Premises liability cases are those involving accidents on someone else’s property. Slip and fall accidents are one of the most common types of premises liability cases, though certainly not the only ones. Injuries caused by inadequate security, drownings, and amusement park accidents, among others, are also examples.
Property owners must keep their premises safe for visitors or customers. The legal responsibilities for homeowners welcoming guests to their homes differ from those faced by business owners inviting customers to spend money on their properties.
Product manufacturers must ensure their products are safe for use, work properly, and come with instructions regarding the proper use and any potential dangers. When a product malfunctions, contains toxic materials or otherwise causes injury or illness, the manufacturer may be culpable for damages.
North Carolina follows strict liability laws for dog bites. This means Jacksonville’s dog owners are liable if their dog bites or otherwise injures a person. The victim does not have to prove negligence to collect compensation.
North Carolina’s employees must purchase workers’ compensation insurance if they employ three or more workers. While workers’ compensation provides coverage for medical costs and some income relief, it may not be enough to cover an injured worker’s needs. When a third party’s negligence contributed to those workplace injuries, filing a personal injury lawsuit against that party may be a necessary course of action to take.
For example, if you are injured while working at a construction site by a car passing through that zone, you may have a claim against that driver.
Medical malpractice cases are necessary when a medical professional’s negligence or recklessness leaves you undiagnosed, misdiagnosed, or suffering consequences of botched medical treatment.
Proving these cases usually requires input from expert medical witnesses and often involves scientific complexities. Our personal injury attorneys have relationships with medical experts who can inform these cases.
When a loved one is killed in an accident caused by another’s negligence, survivors can file a wrongful death claim. Since the deceased cannot pursue damages, a wrongful death claim allows those left behind to hold the at-fault party accountable on the victim’s behalf.
Compensation From a Personal Injury Claim
Personal injury laws are designed to help victims be “made whole” after an accident. Of course, being truly restored to their pre-accident condition is not possible for those with serious or catastrophic injuries. Under the “made whole” system, the court determines a monetary value on victims’ suffering to provide some measure of restoration.
No two personal injury cases are exactly alike, which means no two settlements are exactly alike. The amount you collect depends on the specific circumstances of your situation. That said, personal injury attorneys typically secure compensation for both economic and non-economic damages.
Any consequences of your accident that affect your finances are economic damages. Medical costs and anticipated future care expenses are economic damages. Lost wages and, if applicable, lost future earnings also fit within this category, as do new expenses you face. For example, you may need to hire house-cleaning services, childcare providers, or pay for transportation if your injuries prevent you from fulfilling these responsibilities on your own anymore.
If the accident causes damages to your property, perhaps a vehicle or even items inside the vehicle, you can pursue coverage for the value of that property.
Non-economic damages are losses that do not come with a concrete price tag. These damages acknowledge your physical pain and psychological and emotional distress. Your pain matters, and while money cannot remove it, financial compensation is the only recourse the court has to recognize it.
Compensation for non-economic damages also acknowledges loss to your overall quality and enjoyment of life. Severe injuries may keep you from participating in activities you once enjoyed, from socializing and interacting with loved ones as you did before the accident, and may even make it impossible for you to care for yourself independently.
In most personal injury cases, there is no cap on non-economic damages. However, the maximum amount victims can collect for non-economic damages in medical malpractice cases is $500,000, according to Statute 90-21.19. Exceptional situations may remove that cap, such as when victims are disfigured, lose a body part or its function, are permanently injured, or are killed, and the at-fault party’s actions show gross negligence, were intentional, or involved fraud or malice.
North Carolina allows victims to collect punitive damages if they can prove “fraud, malice,” or “willful or wanton conduct” was “present and was related to the injury for which compensatory damages were awarded.”
While economic and non-economic damages compensate the victim for the losses sustained, punitive damages are intended to “punish a defendant for egregiously wrongful acts and deter the defendant and others from committing similar wrongful acts.”
Punitive damages are capped. Victims can be awarded three times the amount of the combined economic and non-economic damages, or $250,000. They receive whichever amount is greater.
Wrongful Death Settlements
If your loved one is killed in an accident and you file a wrongful death claim, you can receive compensation for:
- Accident-related medical costs
- Lost earnings and benefits
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Loss of relationship and affection
Why You Should Partner With a Personal Injury Lawyer
It is not in your best interests to manage a personal injury case on your own. Though victims may be frustrated, vulnerable, and tempted to say “yes” to whatever settlement the at-fault party’s insurance company offers so they can move on with their lives, doing so denies them the compensation they rightfully deserve and that they will need for a secure future.
Once you partner with a personal injury lawyer, the complications and legalities are in your attorney’s hands, leaving you the time, space, and peace of mind needed to focus on recovery. A personal injury lawyer is far more prepared to build a case and work it through the legal system to get you a just settlement.
Investigate and Identify
A successful outcome only occurs if you can prove the at-fault party’s negligence. Identifying the true at-fault party is essential to your case. While you may think a driver’s negligence caused your accident, your attorney’s investigation may reveal a different or additional cause, such as a brake malfunction. If you filed against the wrong party without this investigation, you would discover too late that you could not prove the claim.
Personal injury attorneys have resources allowing them to conduct comprehensive investigations of your accident to determine its actual cause and identify the at-fault party.
Prepare and File
For most personal injury cases in Jacksonville, victims have three years to file a claim. Three years is the legal filing deadline, called the statute of limitations. Though three years might seem like a lot of time, it is still in your best interest to partner with an attorney promptly after your accident.
Also, if your case is against a government entity as per the criteria established in Statute 143-291, the process for filing follows different rules than those governing a personal injury claim against a private person or company.
Prompt access to your case gives your attorney time to investigate thoroughly, gather evidence while it is still available, and speak to witnesses while their memories of the incident are still fresh.
Compile and Present Evidence
The investigation of your accident will produce important evidence. In some cases, personal injury lawyers recruit help from accident reconstructionists. In most cases, they will seek evidence from sources such as:
- Video footage or photo images from bystanders, traffic, or security cameras
- Accident scene evidence, such as roadway conditions, skid marks, traffic signals, vehicle damage, or premises conditions
- Witnesses. The sooner your attorney can document their observations, the better
- Medical reports documenting your injuries, treatments, and prognosis
- Medical experts regarding your continued care and the consequences of your injuries
- Other relevant experts depending on the type of accident. For example, your attorney may consult with experts from the automotive industry if you were in a car accident or the manufacturing or chemical industries if you were harmed or became ill from a faulty or toxic product
- Caregivers who testify to your limited capabilities and daily needs
- Family and friends who testify to your changed emotional state and quality of life
- Official accident reports, either from law enforcement or a business owner, manager, or supervisor
Your attorney will use this and other evidence to build a solid case. Clearly, this evidence collection requires time, “know-how,” and strategy beyond what typical victims usually have, especially when their focus is on getting through each day and recovering. Put this process in the capable hands of a personal injury attorney in Jacksonville.
Negotiate and Communicate
It is very important that you have a personal injury lawyer handle communication and negotiation with the at-fault party’s insurance or other representatives. In fact, it is best if you do not communicate with these parties at all, as they will use your words against you.
North Carolina’s personal injury laws follow a system of contributory negligence. This system, followed by only four states and Washington D.C., makes it difficult for victims to collect a settlement. Contributory negligence laws prevent victims from seeking damages if they have contributed to the accident causing their injuries, even to a minor extent.
You can expect the insurance companies to work hard to assign fault to you, even just 10% of the blame, stopping you from seeking damages and allowing them to avoid a payout. An innocent statement you make to the at-fault party or their representatives, such as “I’m sorry about the whole situation,” can be twisted into an admission of fault.
Even if the defendant finds a way to put the blame on you, there are strategies an experienced personal injury attorney can use to fight for a settlement, such as the “last clear chance doctrine.”
If you hold no fault, you still should not speak to insurance representatives. They will attempt to coerce you into accepting a far-too-low settlement, often through intimidation or manipulation. The attorneys at Ricci Law Firm Injury Lawyers have years of experience managing insurance negotiations and will not be not shaken or taken in by unethical tactics that put your settlement and your recovery at risk.
Advise and Represent
While most personal injury cases settle out of court, there are situations when the at-fault party’s side refuses to offer a just settlement. If this happens, your attorney will advise you of all options for proceeding.
When your case is strong, you may choose to go to court and have a jury decide the outcome. Your personal injury attorney will continue to offer you superior representation, putting you in the best position to see a favorable outcome.
We Are Here to Help You Today
Recovering from the fallout of an injury-causing accident can be a painful, even lifelong, process. Having the financial resources to support your household, cover your medical needs, and restore your lost property and income is essential for that recovery. And while money can not heal all physical or emotional wounds, a settlement provides some measure of justice for your non-tangible losses and holds the at-fault party accountable. Ricci Law Firm Injury Lawyers is here to help you get the compensation the at-fault party owes you. Reach out to a compassionate, experienced Jacksonville personal injury lawyer today. You deserve to be made whole.
Visit Us at Our Jacksonville Office
2421 Gum Branch Rd Suite 150, Jacksonville, NC 28540