The personal injury claims process can be confusing and daunting. There are many rules and some very important deadlines associated with personal injury lawsuits. Failure to abide by the rules or meet a deadline can be very damaging to or even bar your rights to compensation completely.
It is extremely important to understand the process from beginning to end. This will insure that your rights to full and fair compensation are fully protected.
In cases involving serious personal injuries or wrongful death, it is very important to have the guidance of an attorney experienced in personal injury law matters.
The Albuquerque personal injury attorneys at Collins & Collins, P.C. can help. Contact us online or give us a call at (505) 242-5958.
Different Types of Personal Injury Claims Involve Different ProcessesDifferent personal injury claims have different processes and different challenges. It is important to understand the distinctions since these may be very important to your claims.
We have attempted to address some of the most common issues regarding personal injury process and procedure in this section. However, each type of personal injury claim will have unique processes, procedure and other requirements.
As such, it is important to understand the processes generally but equally important to understand the specifics of your particular claim. For instance, the processes for an auto accident can be very different in many respects from a medical malpractice claim. Likewise, claims against the government can be different in very critical respects than those in a case against a private party.
Important Steps May Vary According to the Type of Claim
Every personal injury claim has unique requirements and important steps to protect the right to compensation.
There are many early steps that should be taken in a personal injury case. Many of these steps are common to all personal injury matters. Others will depend on the kind of case that is involved.
Again, by way of example, the steps taken in an auto accident will differ from the steps and requirements in a medical malpractice claim. It is very important that these steps are taken to protect your rights. Failure to take the appropriate steps can seriously jeopardize your claims.
For example, among the most important early steps is to determine who is responsible for your injuries. This sounds simple enough but it is not always that simple. Challenges here come up frequently in medical malpractice, work injuries and products liability cases. However, they can even come up in auto accidents.
The reason this determination is important is because the identify of the responsible party will often determine what deadlines, statutes of limitations and filing requirements are involved. These issues, deadlines and other requirements will in large part dictate the early processes of your personal injury claim.
Preparing for Settlement or TrialPreparing the case for settlement or trial is a step-wise process. There are often many issues going at once that must be juggled and coordinated .
Once these matters have been addressed, personal injury cases will proceed toward settlement or trial. There are many steps along the way. These processes are important for you to understand so that you will know what to expect as your claim proceeds.
As the case proceeds toward settlement or trial, there are many issues that will come up. These include a host of matters important to you such as getting medical treatment, determining your injuries, calculating your lost wages and other income, and dealing with insurance and hospital liens to name just a few.
If your case is in litigation, there are many more issues, processes and procedure that will come up. Each of these will probably be new to you if you have never been involved in a lawsuit before. Even if you have been involved in a lawsuit in the past, these issues many still be new and sometimes intimidating. Again, an experienced attorney can both guide you and prepare you for what is to come.
Liability and Fault
In order to bring a personal injury lawsuit in New Mexico, whether it is an Auto Accident, Trucking Accident, Nursing Home Negligence & Abuse, Medical Malpractice, Slip and Fall, Premises Liability, or any other kind of accident, you must first prove that the negligence of the other party caused your injuries.
Without fault on the part of the other party, there simply is no claim for personal injuries. The New Mexico Uniform Jury Instructions 13-801 expressly states that the jury must first find liability on the part of the other party before the jury can address damages or harm. This means that the other party is responsible for your injuries.
This requires that the other party acted negligently and that the negligence was the cause of your injuries. No matter how severe your injuries, if they were not caused by the other party, then the other party is not responsible for your injuries. If there is no responsibility, then there can be no legal claim against the other party.
If you have been injured, it is important that you immediately begin documenting the cause of your injuries as well as the negligence of the other party. This means collecting all incident reports, police reports, medical records or any other documents indicating the cause of your injury as well as the negligence of the other party.
In addition, and equally important, you should identify witnesses as soon as possible. This is very important in auto accidents, trucking accidents, slip and fall accidents, and premises liability cases.in the case of Slip & Fall accidents and other premises liability cases. With medical malpractice and nursing home cases, the witnesses should be identified in the medical records. However, if there are civilian or non-medical witnesses, then you should obtain their names, addresses and phone numbers.
Careful documentation of your injuries, the cause of your injuries and the negligence of the other party must begin early. This documentation will go a long way toward the success of your personal injury claims.
When you are injured in New Mexico as a result of the negligence of another, you are entitled to recover all damages resulting from your injuries.
The law in New Mexico is clear. The damages that may be recovered are set forth in the New Mexico Uniform Jury Instructions. If your case goes to trial, the jury will be issued these instructions at the end of the trial. These Uniform Jury Instructions (UJI) set forth precisely what you may recover. The jury instructions will also play a role in the settlement of your claims if settlement is a possibility.
Of course, the jury must first find that the other party caused your injuries pursuant to UJI 13-1801 which requires that there first be a finding of liability before the jury can get to the issue of damages. In personal injury cases, the issue of liability is often the most hotly contested issue as the Defendant will deny responsibility for the accident and your injuries.
Once liability is determined, the jury must follow the Uniform Jury Instructions on damages. The damages that may be recovered in a personal injury lawsuit include Medical Expense, Non-Medical Expense, Lost Earnings, Pain & Suffering, Disfigurement or Permanent Injuries, Aggravation of Preexisting Conditions/Injuries, Loss of Consortium, and Loss of Household Services.
Under certain, very limited circumstances, you may also be entitled to Punitive Damages. Punitive Damages are above and beyond actual damages. Punitive Damages may be used in situations involving outrageous conduct on the part of the Defendant. Punitive damages are used to punish the Defendant for reckless or dangerous conduct and to deter others from engaging in such conduct in the future.
When you have been injured, it is important that you document each and every injury. The documentation of your injuries will be important in the settlement of your claims. If settlement is no possible, you must prove these damages at trial. There will be no award for those damages that have not been proved to the jury. Careful documentation of your injuries will make your attorney’s job much easier both before and at trial, if a trial is necessary.
No Substitute for the Guidance of an Experienced Attorney
As you prepare to move forward with a personal injury claim, the information provided here is meant to help you to understand what lies ahead in your personal injury case. However, these pages are meant only to inform and not to guide.
Because of the complexity of personal injury law, it is critical that you seek the guidance of an experienced attorney. Moreover, you should do this as early as possible. As stated, there are important early steps to take along with potential early deadlines.
Failure to take required steps or to meet a deadline can be extremely detrimental to your rights.