Serious injuries can occur in a variety of ways through no fault of the injured party, and the rehabilitation process can be lengthy. In addition to the physical and mental pain caused by the injuries, there is the added burden of figuring out how to pay all of the medical bills, related medical expenses, lost time for work, and support their family during this time. Due to the numerous elements involved in personal injury law, actions to recover damages for serious injuries are frequently quite challenging.
It does not matter what limitations a serious injury has placed on one’s life. Whether it prevents a person from work, engaging in specific activities, or simple life enjoyment, as long as there were serious injuries sustained and some damages incurred, a person has the right to file a personal injury lawsuit against the responsible party.
Oklahoma statute §47-11-90 terms serious injury as “great bodily injury” and defines it as “bodily injury which creates a substantial risk of death or which causes serious, permanent disfigurement or protracted loss or impairment of the function of any bodily member or organ.”
Serious injuries are similar to typical bodily injuries; however, it is far more severe. A serious injury usually entails a significant danger of death, visible disfigurement, and/or the loss or impairment of the function of a body part, limb, or organ. It entails much more than a tiny or superficial wound.
To include severe injuries in a lawsuit, generally, they must result in long-term incapacity and/or disfigurement. Additionally, they could be permanent and necessitate one or more procedures. Often, a long rehabilitation procedure is required, and the individual may never entirely recover.
A person who experiences a significant or catastrophic injury may be unable to return to work in their chosen profession for a long time, if ever. The individual’s quality of life is typically affected as a result of the injury, as they are no longer able to accomplish things they once could. Some people may never be able to work again, while others may be forced to take a lower-paying position because they cannot handle the responsibilities of their previous career. While most people associate “serious” with physical injuries, “serious” can also refer to severe brain injuries that result in mental impairment.
Serious injuries may be straightforward to diagnose, while others necessitate a doctor’s qualified medical assessment. Diagnostic testing and record of therapy progress can assist a clinician in determining whether or not an injury is a serious injury under Oklahoma law.
Typically, under the legal definition, the following classification of injuries will be deemed a serious injury:
Injuries can occur in a multitude of ways, and serious injuries can come in many forms depending on how they were caused. A serious injury can be a severe back injury that causes lifelong issues. It can also be a broken bone or torn ligament that requires multiple surgeries and rehabilitation to mend. Each accident and each serious injury is different and will require different attention both medically and legally.
It is important to keep diligent records of all injuries and all expenses incurred from any injuries sustained in an accident. Regardless of who is at fault for the accident and how serious a person may think their injuries are, any evidence can help support a personal injury claim for a serious injury and assist in gaining the compensation needed for recovery.
Accidents or acts of aggression can result in serious injuries, which can happen at home, at work, or at leisure. They can be caused by blunt instruments striking the body or by objects penetrating the body. Head injuries, back injuries, broken bones, joint dislocations, torn ligaments, disfigurement, and paralysis are all common examples of serious injuries.
Serious injuries can happen at any time of the day, any day of the week. Auto accidents are the number one cause of serious injuries. Additional scenarios where a serious accident can occur include but are not limited to:
Additional factors can lead to the development of serious injuries. Those that have inherent workplace hazards are more likely to face serious injuries on a daily basis. Moreover, age, health impairments, failure to follow safety guidelines and instructions, vision issues, and hearing issues will also have an impact on one’s propensity to suffer a serious injury.
The party liable for a serious injury will depend on how the serious injury occurred. There are instances, more common than one may think, where multiple people can be found responsible for an accident victim’s injuries. Additionally, even if one is partly at fault for their injuries, there are still options for recompense.
When serious injuries are sustained through the fault of someone else, it is possible to recover damages for the injuries and related expenses by filing a personal injury lawsuit.
Liability in a car accident: Proving fault in an accident can sometimes be easy, especially when the other party admits to their wrongdoings. However, there are instances where the parties disagree on who was at fault and require further investigation. A police report, accident pictures, eye-witness testimony, and expert witnesses (accident reconstructionists) can all help prove fault when liability is in question. The other driver, a third party, or a manufacturer can all bear liability in a car accident.
Premises liability: The owner or occupier of a property is held liable for certain accidents and injuries that occur on the property. A prime example of an owner’s responsibility is when a person is injured at a supermarket when hazards have not been properly secured or marked. When a serious injury is sustained at a store where the owner owes a duty to the shopper, they will be held liable for the victim’s injuries.
Product liability: In product liability, regardless of the defendant’s intent, a defendant is responsible if the plaintiff establishes that the product is defective and caused them serious injuries. It makes no difference whether the manufacturer or supplier exercised caution and great care; if the product has a defect that causes serious injury, he or she will be held liable.
Negligence is defined as the failure to conduct oneself with the level of caution that a reasonable person would in a similar situation. When there is a duty to act (for example, a duty to assist accident victims of one’s previous actions or drive with proper caution and obedience to the rules of the road), then there is a duty of care that must be given to those around us. If one fails that duty, they are deemed to be negligent.
Ensuring success in a personal injury case involves proving four elements of negligence. The following are the elements of negligence that must be present in order to succeed in a personal injury lawsuit.
Every serious injury case is unique and must be examined carefully. Personal injury lawyers have the experience necessary to investigate these claims and find the evidence needed to prove the elements of negligence. In order to bring a successful case, each aspect must be met.
Other than injury, proving that the defendant owes the plaintiff a duty of care is usually the easiest factor to establish. If a relationship has been developed, there is almost certainly an obligation due (drivers to other drivers, employer to employee, caretakers to the elderly, nanny to a child etc.).
Courts frequently utilize the Hand Formula to evaluate whether a defendant has breached a duty. The person who bears the expense of precautions will be held accountable if the cost of safeguards is less than the risk of injury multiplied by the severity of any resulting injury.
To demonstrate injury, one of two things must occur: (1) bodily harm or (2) harm to one’s property. Economic loss alone will not suffice to meet the burden of proof for the harm element.
Finally, demonstrating that losses have occurred. This usually occurs in conjunction with an injury. If you can show the injury, you’ll almost certainly have to pay damages to make the plaintiff whole again—whether it’s for serious injury or property restoration or replacement.
A serious injury victim might seek financial compensation for their damages by hiring a personal injury lawyer. Legal difficulties in serious injury situations can be quite complicated. A serious injury lawyer will also need to figure out how much money one has lost due to the serious injuries sustained in an accident. This will assist the attorney in seeking damages to compensate the plaintiff for their losses. Serious injuries can affect each person differently and also vary in severity and cost. Some costs can be quite substantial and last throughout a person’s entire life.
In any situation, an experienced Oklahoma personal injury attorney will need to determine a wide range of expenses to gain compensation in a lawsuit. For serious injury cases, damages can include items like:
Depending on the facts of the case, a serious injury victim may be qualified to seek punitive damages. Punitive damages exceed normal compensation in personal injury cases and are awarded to punish the wrongdoer. Punitive damages may be available if the at-fault party was grossly negligent or behaved maliciously in causing the serious injuries.
When an employee is seriously injured at work, they are unable to sue their employer for compensation. The workers’ compensation system is designed to compensate loss benefits, medical bills and expenses, pain and suffering, lost wages, and other benefits to people who have sustained a serious workplace injury. Workers’ compensation serves two purposes: it ensures that employees receive benefits in the event of a serious injury, and it protects employers from being sued if a worker is injured while on the job.
Even though one cannot bring a lawsuit against their employer for serious injuries sustained at work, there are other alternatives to gain compensation for the injuries sustained. The most common practices available for injured workers are:
A worker may be eligible for both workers’ compensation and Social Security Disability benefits if he or she gets injured on the job. To get Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) compensation for a work-related serious injury, one must show that their symptoms preclude them from returning to any job they have held in the previous 15 years. Employees may also need to demonstrate that they are unable to perform additional activities or employment, depending on their age, education, and work experience. It is easier to qualify for SSDI or SSI if an employee is 50 or older.
Most serious injuries do occur through negligence, which means they are deemed unintentional serious injuries, and the CDC has reported on accidental and unintentional injuries each year:
According to the National Floor Safety Institute (NFSI), “falls account for over 8 million hospital emergency room visits, representing the leading cause of visits (21.3%). Slips and falls account for over 1 million visits, or 12% of total falls.”
The Association for Safe International Road Travel has found that “approximately 1.35 million people die in road crashes each year [and] an additional 20-50 million suffer non-fatal injuries, often resulting in long-term disabilities.”
Findings from the Insurance Information Institute stated that there are roughly 80,000+ motorcycle injuries each year, most of which result in some form of serious bodily injury.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 2.8 million workplace injuries were reported in the latest reporting year and over 25% of these injuries caused workers to miss a substantial amount of time at work and face lasting effects from the injuries.
Choosing the correct personal injury law firm can mean the difference between receiving the fair compensation and damages an injury victim deserves or walking away with nothing and a mountain of debt.
An experienced Tulsa personal injury lawyer will be able to help with all aspects of an insurance claim and dealing with insurance companies and insurance adjusters, as well as filing a personal injury lawsuit. If the injured party does not get the compensation they wanted through filing a claim with the insurance companies, then seeking more extensive legal measures will likely be necessary. No one should face the legal system on their own, especially after sustaining serious injuries.
A Tulsa serious injury attorney will be able to collect any evidence necessary to bring a lawsuit against the culpable party or parties. Additionally, if liability is a question, a personal injury lawyer will be able to prove liability and bring a claim for negligence.
Graves McLain Tulsa Personal Injury attorneys in Oklahoma can be reached at 1-800-390-6600, through email, or by requesting a free consultation online. An expert attorney will analyze your situation in a free case evaluation. Trust our team; we are here to assist you.
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