What Is A Personal Injury Claim, and Why Do You Need To Know?

Every state has laws giving a person injured through the fault of someone else the right to recover compensation through a personal injury claim. Personal injury laws not only give you the right to make a claim, but they also control how long you have to file it. 

According to currently available data from the Oregon Department of Transportation, motor vehicle accidents in 2020 killed or injured 28,505 people, but car and truck accidents are only one type of personal injury claim. In order to help you to have a better understanding of personal injury laws and how to take full advantage of your rights under them, we offer the following information about the various types of personal injury claims, the damages recoverable, and time limitations on pursuing a claim.

What is a personal injury claim?

A personal injury generally involves physical or mental harm to a person. It does not include harm or damage to real or personal property, which is defined as “property damage.” It’s an important distinction to keep in mind because someone injured in a car accident may pursue a personal injury claim and a property damage claim in one lawsuit, but they remain two separate and distinct claims.

If you are injured through the careless or reckless behavior of someone else, you have the right to make a claim for compensation under the personal injury laws of your state or the state in which the accident occurred. There are different types of personal injury claims with automobile crashes being the one most people may associate with personal injury lawsuits, but other types of personal injury claims include the following:

  • Premises liability claims, which include slip-and-fall accidents, injuries related to a failure to provide adequate lighting or security, and injuries caused by the poorly maintained condition of a building or outdoor area.
  • Workplace accidents, which is a general heading for injuries occurring through accidents at construction sites or in work settings. A worker injured in a workplace accident has a right to file a claim for workers’ compensation under Oregon law, but the worker also has a claim against third-parties, excluding the worker’s employer and co-workers, whose negligence or careless conduct caused the accident. An example would be a worker injured at a jobsite when struck by a truck owned and operated by a company delivering supplies.
  • Defective products claims, which result when commercial or consumer products fail to perform as intended and cause injuries to users. The failure may be mechanical, such as the explosion of a lawnmower engine during normal use, but it can also be the result of the absence of warning labels or inadequate instructions provided by the manufacturer. For example, the lack of label or sticker warning the operator of a machine to keep loose clothing away from moving parts may give rise to a personal claim if a glove worn by the operator becomes entangled in the machine resulting in injuries to the hand.

When the injuries caused by the negligence or wrongful conduct of another person, business or organization results in a death, Oregon and other states have laws permitting a wrongful death claim on behalf of surviving family members specified in the law. 

For instance, the Oregon wrongful death statute specifies that the representative of the deceased may bring a wrongful death claim on behalf of the following surviving family members of the deceased:

  • Spouse
  • Children
  • Parents

The law also includes stepchildren, stepparents, and other individuals entitled by state law to inherit personal property from the deceased.

Compensation recoverable for personal injuries

The compensation that you may be entitled to recover through a personal injury claim typically include out-of-pocket expenses, such as medical expenses, lost earnings, lost or diminished future earnings, and anticipated future medical expenses. Compensation for pain and suffering, diminished enjoyment of life, and other damages that cannot be proved with a bill or receipt are non-economic damages. 

Time limitations on personal injury claims

State laws limit how long an injured person has to pursue a personal injury claim against the party who was at fault. These time limitations are called the “statute of limitations,” and they can differ depending on the state where the claim arises and the type of claim. For instance, a personal injury claim for injuries that you received in a car accident in Oregon must be filed within two years from the date of the accident, but if a person injured in a car accident dies from their injuries, the wrongful death claim must be filed within three years from the date of death.

Get help with a personal injury claim

If you believe that you have a claim against someone for injuries that you sustained in an accident, you need to contact an experienced Bend personal injury attorney right away. Scheduling a consultation with a skilled attorney as soon after an accident as possible avoids running into problems with the statute of limitations and allows your attorney to begin gathering evidence to support your personal injury claim for compensation.

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