Frequently Asked Questions: Personal Injury & Wrongful Death

What is Negligence?

If you have a been injured in an accident of some kind you may have a claim for the personal injuries you have suffered. When you have a personal injury action (or any tort claim), you must be aware of negligence. The defendant may be the negligent party and his or her negligence caused your injury. However, if you were injured as the result of your own negligence, this may also affect your claim. Negligence is failing to provide reasonable care for the safety of others or yourself. The court considers the level of care a “reasonably prudent person” would have employed in the same circumstances. If an individual fails to act as a reasonably prudent person would, he or she may be shown to have failed to protect others (or him or herself) against foreseeable harm and may be seen as contributing to the injury that occurred as a result.

Can I Get Compensation for My Injuries if an Accident Might Have Been Partly My Fault?

If you may be partly to blame for your injuries, you may or may not be able to recover damages. It depends on the jurisdiction you are in. A minority of jurisdictions follow contributory negligence: Under this rule, if your own negligence caused your injury, or played a part in causing your injury, you may not be able to recover for your injuries. However, the majority of jurisdictions follow comparative negligence. In comparative negligence, you may still recover damages for your injuries if your own negligence was a partial cause of those injuries. The amount of damages you may receive will be lessened in comparison to the amount of your own negligence. You will still be able to recover for your injuries, but the sum is contingent on your amount of fault.

Can I Get Compensation for My Accident Injuries if I Have a Preexisting Medical Condition?

Generally, if an individual has a preexisting condition, he or she may not recover damages for injuries related to that condition. However, the preexisting condition does not bar an injured person from recovering damages that were caused by the accident and not the preexisting condition. For example, if a person has a permanent back injury and is hit by a car while crossing the street, that person may recover damages from injuries sustained from being hit by the car, but not for the previous permanent back injury. Likewise, if a person already has a condition that is worsened by a accident, he or she may be able to recover damages for the injuries sustained by the worsened condition and medical treatment for the worsened condition, but not the original condition that they already had. In some jurisdictions, there may also be a separate claim for aggravating a preexisting disease, illness or condition. It is important to speak to an attorney to find out how preexisting conditions are treated by the court in your area.

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