It may shock some to learn that nurses work in one of the most dangerous industries in the United States. On any given day, these dedicated caretakers have to navigate a maze of hazards and hope that they get to go home healthy and in one piece. For many, however, their day ends in pain and tears after being seriously injured in an accident. While many nurses are aware of the fact that they can file a workers’ compensation claim, they typically don’t realize that they may also be eligible for a personal injury lawsuit.
What Is A Personal Injury Lawsuit?
A personal injury lawsuit is filed when someone who has been injured by another party files a lawsuit alleging that they believe the other party’s negligence caused them harm. By pursuing this form of legal action, the plaintiff hopes to recover compensation for the losses they have suffered.
What Is Considered Negligence?
In order to determine if someone has behaved negligently or not, the plaintiff needs to be able to prove four things:
- A Duty Of Care Existed: This means that the defendant legally owed a duty to behave in a way which would prevent the plaintiff from being harmed. For example, every driver has the legal duty to keep their eyes on the road so that they can stop their vehicle from hitting another car.
- A Breach Occurred: The plaintiff must be able to show that the defendant breached the duty they owed to them by either failing to behave in a certain way or behaving in a way that put others at risk. For example, drunk drivers place others at risk when they get behind the wheel of a car and breach the duty they owe others to drive responsibly.
- These Actions Caused The Plaintiff Harm: In order to have a case, the negligent actions made by the defendant must have injured the plaintiff and it must be shown that the injuries were directly caused by the negligent act.
- The Plaintiff Suffered Losses: The plaintiff must show that they suffered losses, such as medical expenses and lost wages due to the injuries they sustained.
In most cases, it is fairly easy to show how the defendant’s actions caused injury to the plaintiff, however, you do still need to keep records regarding the accident.
The Stages Of Pursuing A Case
This is what you can expect if you choose to file a personal injury lawsuit:
You Will Need To Seek Medical Care
It is very important that you seek medical care as soon as possible, even if you think that the injuries you sustained are minor and will go away with time. Some injuries can get worse over time without treatment and need to be addressed as quickly as possible.
Consult an Attorney
Don’t hesitate to contact one of our experienced and dedicated attorneys – our initial consultations are free so you have nothing to lose. We can review your case together and advise you of all legal options available to you.
File Initial Papers
An attorney will help you fill out and file the appropriate documents needed to move forward with a legal claim.
During this phase, both parties will investigate the accident, collect evidence, interview witnesses, and review all records.
Offers To Settle
In most cases, the legal team for the defense will present a settlement offer to the plaintiff. If this occurs, the plaintiff has the option to accept or decline the offer. If they accept, the case will not go to trial. In fact, the majority of personal injury cases settle instead of going to trial.
If the case goes to trial, both sides will present their arguments and the jury or judge will determine if the plaintiff has a legitimate case. If the plaintiff wins their case, they will be awarded damages – monetary compensation for the losses that were suffered.
How Much Money Can I Obtain?
Until the facts of the case have been reviewed, there is no way of knowing how much a plaintiff may be able to obtain. The actual damages awarded may include payments for:
The cost of treating an injury can be very expensive. It doesn’t take very long for exams, blood tests, x-rays, ultrasounds, surgeries, and medications to add up and leave the victim feeling like they are drowning in debt.
When an injury is serious, it is rare that the victim is able to immediately return to work. In a country where most households need a monthly paycheck to survive, this can mean that their debt just grows even larger – all because of an accident that wasn’t their fault.
Pain & Suffering
If the injuries sustained by the victim are so severe that they are disfiguring or leave the patient in a state of constant pain, they may be awarded non-monetary damages.
PTSD is not uncommon for after being injured. If there is long lasting emotional trauma and the plaintiff can show this, the court may award additional damages.
Loss Of Enjoyment
If the plaintiff is no longer able to take part in activities that they previously enjoyed because of permanent damage sustained due to the accident, it is possible to obtain compensation for that loss.
Doesn’t Workers Comp Covered All Of These Losses?
No. A workers’ compensation claim only provides compensation for medical expenses and a fraction of your lost wages. This is why the law allows injured nurses to file both a workers’ compensation claim and a personal injury lawsuit. The only restriction is that the personal injury lawsuit cannot be filed against the injured nurse’s employer. However, in most cases, the negligent party is not the employer.