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Everyone is at risk for a personal injury and it could happen in many different ways. If you are in an accident and sustain an injury you should first seek any and all necessary medical treatment. If you have been involved in an auto accident, for example, make sure to stay clear of traffic and then call 911 in order to address your current medical needs. Once you take care of your immediate health and treatment needs you may consider a legal claim. At Berkshire & Burmeister, we stand committed to educating you on your personal injury matter and are ready to help you seek the compensation you may be entitled to receive.
Next, you should collect evidence about the injury such as photos, notes, accident reports, medical records, sales receipts and any other information you think might be relevant. If there were witnesses to the event, you will want to get their contact information as well. It is best to keep notes in a daily diary throughout the case so that you have a clear and complete record of events as they happen.
After collecting documents you may decide to hire an attorney and file a lawsuit against the person or entity that is legally responsible for your injury. A personal injury suit is considered a civil case (not a criminal case). The person bringing the suit is the plaintiff and the person alleged to be responsible is the defendant. It is important to keep in mind that there are time limits for filing lawsuits, which are called “Statutes of Limitations” and these vary by state and the type of case. In Nebraska, most personal injury cases must currently be filed with a court within 4 years of the date of injury. If, however, you are filing a different type of case such as a suit for dental malpractice, the time frame for bringing the lawsuit could be different. For instance, in dental malpractice cases a suit must currently be filed with a court within 2 years from the malpractice or, if you didn’t know the malpractice had occurred until later, within 1 year from the time you discovered the malpractice as long as the suit was filed within 10 years of the malpractice. It is critical that you consult with an attorney to ensure you do not lose your right to recover for your injuries because of a Statute of Limitation restriction. These statutes also change and can be confusing, so we highly recommend consulting with an attorney for any personal injury claims to protect your rights.
Generally, filing a Complaint with the court through an attorney will start your personal injury lawsuit. A Complaint is a legal document that briefly recites the circumstances of the accident, explains why the defendant is believed to be legally responsible, and asks the court to award relief (usually money damages) in compensation to you. Most personal injury cases are based on the legal theory of negligence. Basically, negligence means that someone acted carelessly and that carelessness caused (or contributed to) the accident. In your Complaint you will likely allege that the defendant was negligent.
Damages in a personal injury suit are often divided into economic (expenses having a specific dollar value such as medical bills and lost wages) and non-economic (more intangible expenses like pain and suffering). In some cases, there are limits on the damages that can be recovered. In Nebraska, considerations that go into determining damages include the extent of your injuries, the cost of medical care and treatment, your lost wages, your lost earning capacity, and your physical pain and suffering.
Please contact the personal injury attorneys at Berkshire & Burmeister for specific questions and recommendations regarding your personal injury claim.