Accidents, Dog Bites, Defamation… All Kinds of Injuries Can Be Personal
“Personal Injuries” are sometimes actual physical injuries that require medical treatment, such as:
“slip and fall” injuries, such as slipping on an icy step
being hurt by faulty equipment or falling debris
injuries from a bike or auto accident
illness from tainted food
And sometimes they are mental or emotional injuries that interfere with your life. If careless or malicious actions by someone else have caused significant measurable distress in your life resulting in:
a psychological condition needing treatment, like anxiety;
damage to your reputation;
or loss of income or a job;
When someone’s actions or carelessness result in these or other injuries, you may have grounds for a personal injury suit.
What to do first
If emergency aid is needed, call 911 first! Then take pictures with your phone, get the names and contact information for any witnesses and everyone involved, and write down an account of what happened while it is fresh in your memory - and call us for an appropriate attorney.
Talk to a lawyer before you talk to the other sides’ insurance company!
No matter how nice or helpful their insurance person sounds, their job is to limit your claims against them as quickly as possible. Do NOT fill out any forms, sign anything, or accept any check without consulting your own attorney. If the other side’s insurance company is willing to offer you anything without being pressed, chances are they are hoping you don’t realize that you could actually be entitled to much more. Accepting a settlement usually closes the door on being able to collect any more, no matter how much worse your injuries turn out to be over time.
In any personal injury claim, you must be able to prove that you were harmed because of the negligent or malicious actions or omissions of another person, company, or corporation. Some accidents and injuries are just accidents – there is not always someone at fault. An attorney can help you assess what you can realistically expect for your injury, and help you decide whether to pursue it or not.
Have your facts ready – and don’t wait.
When you call us for a referral, have the basic “who, what, where, when, why, and how” facts organized so you can explain clearly what happened and who the other parties are.
When you speak with the attorney, have the names of the other parties and insurance companies, and an outline of what happened when.
When you meet with the attorney, bring copies of any records – police reports, hospital bills and reports, insurance information, any correspondence with the other party or witnesses or your own insurance company – and the names and contact information of everyone involved, including the lawyer or insurance agent for the other parties, if you know them. Be able to sum up how much money the injury has cost you to date in care and lost income, and try to estimate how much more it may cost you in the future.
Related Legal Terms
Conflict of Interest – a relationship with someone on the other side of your legal conflict that might appear to prejudice their work for you. One of the first things an attorney must determine when you ask for assistance suing someone is if the attorney or anyone in the same firm has ever represented the other side, or if they have any professional or personal relationship with the other side that might appear to prejudice their work for you. If they have, then they are ethically required not to take your case and will let you know that they “have a conflict.”
Contingent Fee Agreement – the arrangement most people think of when they think of personal injury cases, as advertised with slogans such as “we don’t collect unless you win.” These fees are negotiable, but are commonly one-third to 40% of the money won. Understandably, attorneys are unlikely to take a case “on contingency” unless they believe that there is a good chance that they can win, and that the damages awarded will be enough to make it worthwhile for both the attorney and the client. However, even under contingency agreements, a client may be required to invest money to conduct the case. These expenses are separate from the attorneys’ fees, and may include research, payment for expert witnesses, filing fees, travel, material preparation and other costs.
Negligence – a legal assessment that someone did not take reasonable care regarding actions or property under their responsibility, resulting in unintentional harm to someone else
Vicarious Liability – legal liability of an entity, such as a store or school, for the actions or omissions of its employees while undertaking their duties
Statute of Limitations (SOL) – the window of time after the injury takes place during which the law allows you to sue someone. In Maine, the statute of limitations for suing someone for personal injury is 6 years from the date the action or omission took place. Sometimes that is very difficult to determine, so you should talk to an attorney immediately.
Special Damages – the amount of money a person may be awarded for expenses directly caused by the injury, including hospital and ambulance bills. This is a specific amount tallied from actual bills and expenses.
General Damages – the amount of money a person may be awarded for current and future effects of an injury, which can range from shortened life span and inability to perform certain acts, to pain, suffering, humiliation, and mental anguish
For a Maine Personal Injury Attorney
This is for general information only. It is not intended as legal advice.