Scura, Wigfield, Heyer, Stevens & Cammarota Blog
Items to Consider in Deciding Whether to Pursue a Personal Injury Claim
Many clients want to know whether they should pursue a claim for personal injury and feel uneasy about doing so. It's important to know that you can pursue a claim for personal injury without filing suit or a legal action. In fact, many personal injury cases are settled without a lawsuit of legal action with the insurance company or defendant settling before any case is filed. Unfortunately, because many insurance companies are unreasonable, cases do wind up in a lawsuit or litigation in order to force them to pay.
Factors to weigh in considering whether to pursue a personal injury claim are:
- Some else was at fault in some way
- You are seriously injured with a permanent or temporary injury
- You have received treatment for the injury
- You have lost time from work or school
- You have medical bills resulting from the injury
If these factors do not weigh heavily, then perhaps you want to consider whether you want to do something about the injuries. On the other hand if these factors weigh heavily, then you most likely want to pursue a claim.
Our Law Allows for Full Recovery for Damages from Personal Injury
Always remember that you are not doing anything wrong in pursuing a claim for personal injury. Our law allows for full recovery of a loss a person sustains in order to put them back to the same position - as much as money can do - to where they were before the accident or injury.
I often discuss with clients the factors contained in the model jury charge on damages in a personal injury action in New Jersey to show them what our law allows for. This is the instruction judges give juries in New Jersey when instructing on damages generally. There are other more specific instructions depending on the case, but the general charge gives a great summary and explanation on the items of damage considered in a personal injury case in New Jersey.
A person should also realize that there are Statute of Limitations that govern how long a person has to bring a claim.
The General Model Jury Instruction on Damages in New Jersey in a Personal Injury Case is as follows:
"A plaintiff who is awarded a verdict is entitled to fair and reasonable compensation for any permanent or temporary injury resulting in disability to or impairment of his/her faculties, health, or ability to participate in activities, as a proximate result of the defendant's negligence (or other wrongdoing). Disability or impairment means worsening, weakening or loss of faculties, health or ability to participate in activities. It includes the inability to pursue one's normal pleasure and enjoyment. You must determine how the injury has deprived plaintiff of his/her customary activities as a whole person. This measure of damages is what a reasonable person would consider to be adequate and just under all the circumstances of the case to compensate plaintiff for his/her injury and his/her consequent disability, impairment, and the loss of the enjoyment of life.
The law also recognizes as proper items for recovery, the pain, physical and mental suffering, discomfort, and distress that a person may endure as a natural consequence of the injury. The measure of damages is what a reasonable person would consider to be adequate and just under all the circumstances to compensate plaintiff.
Here are some factors you may want to take into account when fixing the amount of the award for disability impairment, loss of enjoyment of life, pain and suffering. You may consider plaintiff's age, usual activities, occupation, family responsibilities and similar relevant facts in evaluating the probable consequences of any injuries you find he/she has suffered. You are to consider the nature, character and seriousness of any injury, discomfort or disfigurement. You must also consider their duration, as any award you make must cover the damages suffered by plaintiff since the accident, to the present time, and even into the future if you find that plaintiff's injury and its consequence have continued to the present time or can reasonably be expected to continue into the future.
The law does not provide you with any table, schedule or formula by which a person's pain and suffering disability, impairment, loss of enjoyment of life may be measured in terms of money. The amount is left to your sound discretion. You are to use your discretion to attempt to make the plaintiff whole, so far as money can do so, based upon reason and sound judgment, without any passion, prejudice, bias or sympathy. You each know from your common experience the nature of pain and suffering, disability, impairment and loss of enjoyment of life and you also know the nature and function of money. The task of equating the two so as to arrive at a fair and reasonable award of damages requires a high order of human judgment. For this reason, the law can provide no better yardstick for your guidance than your own impartial judgment and experience.
You are to exercise sound judgment as to what is fair, just and reasonable under all the circumstances. You should, of course, consider the testimony of plaintiff on the subject of his/her discomforts. You should scrutinize all the other evidence presented by both parties on this subject, including, of course, the testimony of the doctors who appeared. After considering the evidence, you shall award a lump sum of money that will fairly and reasonably compensate plaintiff for his/her pain, suffering, disability, impairment, and loss of enjoyment of life."
New Jersey Model Jury Charge on Damages 8.11E.
As can be seen, New Jersey law recognizes that personal injuries and the loss of quality of life are compensable items. Basically, our law tries to put a person, as much as it can do so, to that position had the person never been injured. Stated simply, our law recognizes that if you are hurt through the fault of another, you should be compensated.
Give one of our New Jersey Personal Injury Attorneys a call to discuss your personal injury case or contact us online for a free initial consultation.
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