If you are injured as a result of an accident or incident, the personal injury legal system allows you to recover damages, in the form of financial compensation, for all losses you experience as a result of the accident. The purpose of the system is to allow you, as the injured person, to be made whole after experiencing a loss, whether it is a loss of health, a loss of income, a loss of quality of your life, or a loss of ability to compete in the workplace.
In the case of slip and falls and other non-automobile accidents, this compensation flows from the person at fault for the accident.
It is possible for you to know, or be acquainted with, the person who is at-fault. For example, consider the following situation: You are on your way to visit a friend, and while walking up to your friend’s walkway toward the front door, you slip and fall on ice or snow that wasn’t removed. You injure your ankle in the fall, which when healed, continues to prevent you from enjoying your favourite activities, such as running and playing with your children and taking long walks. You are also forced to take one month off work because you are unable to put weight on your ankle for extended periods of time. In order to receive financial compensation for your losses, you are required to pursue an action against your friend.
Another common situation in which an injured person knows the at-fault party in a personal injury action involves dog bites and attacks. We were recently presented with the following scenario: a beautiful young woman, while visiting her new boyfriend’s parents in their home, was attacked and bitten in the face by her boyfriend’s parents’ dog. When she came to see us, the young woman had a large very visible scar along the side of her mouth and across her chin. The young woman was clearly traumatized by the appearance of her permanent scars but was hesitant to “sue” her new boyfriend’s parents.
To help take this “personal” aspect out of the decision to pursue damages for personal injuries sustained in an accident involving someone you know, it is helpful to have an understanding of how the process of personal injury works, and the role the at-fault party will have in the process.
The financial compensation you receive is typically paid for by the insurance company of the at-fault person, not by the person themselves, and it is the insurance company who responds on behalf of the person at fault. This means that when the person at fault for an accident or incident is “sued” by receiving a Statement of Claim, or receives notice that he or she will be “sued”, that person simply notifies their insurance company, and the adjuster, who is an employee of the insurance company, investigates and negotiates the claim. If negotiations are unsuccessful, a personal injury lawsuit will be commenced, and a lawyer for the insurance company will become involved.
In the case of the young woman with facial scarring, the parents of her boyfriend had very little involvement in the claim process, and there was no point during the process when the young woman had to face them in an adversarial way. When her boyfriend’s parents received a letter from us stating that the young woman was intending to bring an action for damages as a result of the dog bite, they handed the letter to a representative of their insurance company. All communication from that point forward was between the insurance adjuster and our law firm. Apart from having an initial conversation with the boyfriend’s parents about the details surrounding the incident, the adjuster did not involve the boyfriend’s parents. The settlement was reached between the adjuster and our firm soon later, and the injured person received financial compensation that included an amount for laser cosmetic surgery that was expected to improve the appearance of her scars significantly.
It is possible that the at-fault party will have more involvement in a personal injury action. If negotiations with the adjuster for the insurance company are unsuccessful, and legal action is commenced, it is likely that the at-fault party will be interviewed by your lawyer under oath in an Examination for Discovery. You, as the injured person, will not be present during this interview.
So, while the at-fault party may have some involvement in your claim for damages for personal injuries, their involvement is relatively small, and your respective involvement will not overlap unless a trial is required, which is highly unlikely.
A personal injury lawyer can serve as an important guide to help you through the decision to pursue a claim for damages for a personal injury sustained when the at-fault person is someone you know. In the decision to pursue damages to potentially improve the quality of your life that has been diminished by a personal injury, is helpful to know that the process is not as “personal” to the at-fault party as it may seem.
Contact Graves & Richard at 226-401-5306 to get started on your free one-hour consultation. Our lawyers practice strictly personal injury law for individuals to recover damages for injuries and losses suffered as a result of motor vehicle accidents, slip and falls, dog bites and many other areas, all of which are listed on our site.