Contrary to popular belief, a personal injury doesn’t always deal with damage done to the body. In legal terms, a personal injury can affect the body, mind or emotions, and if any physical, mental or emotional damage has been caused by the negligence of another person, then claims for personal injury are permissible under law. As with most things to do with litigation, personal injury claims can be complicated, with strict time limitations and conditions, depending on everything from the type of injury to the state in which it occurs.
Claims for personal injury most generally occur as a result of one of the following:
- Car accidents. More Americans between the ages of 2 and 34 are killed in motor vehicle accidents than anything else. The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration estimates that nearly 80% of road accidents are caused by distracted drivers, including those talking or texting on cell phones. This clearly represents negligence, as does DUII driving and speeding, both of which account for hundreds of accidents on Oregon roads every year.
- Accidents at work. These can include slip and fall injuries or accidents due to defective materials or products. People have also been injured at work through exposure to toxic materials and dangerous chemicals. Asbestos and benzene are just two of the cancer-causing products that have led to claims for personal injury in the workplace. While many believe this type of injury is a thing of the past, it remains a fact that of the 75,000 chemicals used in workplaces today, only a small fraction has been tested to determine potential health risks.
- Product liability. Defective products injure thousands of Americans each year. They include some types of airbags, tires and seatbelts in motor vehicles; appliances, children’s clothing and toys, as well as medical devices. Products that are sold in Oregon are subject to rigorous liability standards. If a personal injury lawyer can prove that a product was defective and that their client was injured because of that defect, it is not necessary to show negligence or intentional wrongdoing. The simple fact that the product was defective will usually be sufficient to win the case.
- Traumatic brain injury. More than one million Americans suffer sudden physical trauma to the brain each year, and of these, more than 50,000 die. Car accidents would be the number one cause of this type of injury, as well as slips and falls and sport injuries. If these accidents are caused by someone else’s negligence, claims for personal injury would be justified on grounds of pain and suffering, medical expenses, loss of income and ongoing treatment. If the victim dies, the family would also be entitled to compensation for all the above, as well as loss of companionship.
- Animal bites. Dogs make great pets, but they also bite more Americans than any other animal. Sadly, those greatest affected are usually children between the ages of 5 and 9. Oregon laws regarding negligence and liability are very tricky when it comes to dog bites. State laws date back to Revolutionary War times, so it would be wise to seek the counsel of an experienced personal injury attorney before making a claim.
If another person’s negligence has led to someone dying, then claims for personal injury under the heading of “wrongful death” would also be allowable under Oregon law. This is one of the areas where strict time limits can destroy what would otherwise be a completely valid case. Claims must be filed within three years of the injury which ultimately led to the death, not of the death itself, according to Oregon statute 30.010-30.100. If, for example, a pedestrian in a crosswalk is struck by a car and goes into a coma for six months and then dies, the claim would have to be lodged within three years of the accident itself, not of the person dying. Failure to meet this statute of limitations would result in the case being thrown out of an Oregon court, regardless of the other circumstances.
Other areas which would qualify for claims for personal injury would be personal assault, sexual assault, defective drugs and even funeral home abuse. In many instances, these cases can be very difficult to prove, and insurance companies will invariably contest claims and delay making settlement payments. Therefore, anyone considering making an Oregon personal injury claim should always, in the first instance, contact an experienced Portland personal injury lawyer—one who has dealt with all the various types of claims listed above. Personal injury attorneys are used to dealing with the insurance companies, and they will offer guidance on how best to proceed with your claim. They can advise you of what kind of settlement you can expect to receive, and they will fight to get you the compensation you deserve.