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A personal injury occurs when a person has suffered some form of injury, either physical or psychological, as the result of an accident or medical malpractice.
The most common type of personal injury claims are road traffic accidents, accidents at work, tripping accidents, assault claims, accidents in the home, defective product accidents and holiday accidents. Indeed, there are a multitude of types of accident and the term personal injury also incorporates medical and dental accidents (which lead to numerous medical and dental negligence claims every year) and conditions which are often classified as industrial disease cases. Industrial disease type cases include asbestosis and mesothelioma, chest diseases (e.g. emphysema, pneumoconiosis, silicosis, chronic bronchitis, asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and chronic obstructive airways disease), vibration white finger, occupational deafness, occupational stress, contact dermititus, and repetitive strain injury cases.
Where the accident was the fault of someone else, the injured party may be entitled to monetary compensation from the person whose negligent conduct caused the injury. At least in the United States this system is complex and controversial with critics calling for various forms of tort reform. Attorneys often represent clients on a "contigency basis," in which the attorney does not charge for services until the case is resolved.
In England and Wales, under the limitation rules, where an individual is bringing a claim for compensation, court proceedings must be commenced within 3 years of the date of the accident, failing which the claimant will lose the right to bring their claim. However, if the injured party was under the age of 18 at the time of the accident, then they have up until the day prior to their 21st birthday to commence proceedings. Legal Aid for personal injury cases was largely abolished in the late 1990s and replaced with "no win, no fee" arrangements.
Structured Settlements in Personal Injury Cases:
Often, the use of a Structured Settlement is desired by the injury victim to help protect them financially after an injury settlement.
Structured Settlements provide injury victims with tax benefits and enable proper financial planning for future needs of the injury victim as a result of the injury.
Pain and Suffering:
Pain and suffering is the legal term for the physical and emotional stress caused from an injury (see also pain and suffering). Some damages that might be under this category would be: aches, temporary and permanent limitations on activity, potential shortening of life, depression or scarring. When filing a lawsuit as a result of an injury, it is common for someone to seek money both in compensation for actual money that is lost and for the pain and stress associated with virtually any injury. In a suit, pain and suffering is part of the "general damages" section of the plaintiff's claim, or, alternatively, it is an element of “compensatory” non economic damages that allows recovery for the mental anguish and/or physical pain endured by the plaintiff as a result of injury for which the plaintiff seeks redress.The amount of money damages a claimant gets for pain and suffering will first depending upon the amount claimed in a lawsuit if such is filed or the amount demanded to the responsible party in the underlying claim if it is an insurance claim. Even though a lawyer representing a client in an injury negligence based lawsuit may claim a certain amount for pain and suffering, the jury or the insurance adjuster will award pain and suffering money for differing reasons. Jury awards for pain and suffering vary depending upon the socioeconomic and political factors motivating them at the time in the particular jurisdiction of the suit. In most states the maximum monetary amount awarded for pain and suffering is capped at what is listed in the particular suit or written complaint. In some states under the banner of tort reform there are maximum caps that are codified statutorily at which a jury may not exceed in awarding their damages when they do. The personality of the plaintiff, their witnesses and overall affect of the injuries which befell the victim plaintiff will play a powerful role in any damage award if damages are even awarded once liability issues are satisfied. The power and personality of the lawyer representing her or his client also may factor into a high money damage award case.
Apart from money damages awarded in trial, money damages are also given informally outside the judicial system in mediations, arbitration (both of which may be court annexed or non litigated claims) as well as in routine insurance settlements. Individual claimants or those represented by lawyers often present demands to insurers to settle for money. These demand for bodily injury compensation monies often set out damages that are similarly used in the court litigated pleadings. Demands are usually written summaries of a claimant's medical care and the facts which resulted in the injury.
Such awards may follow in house insurance guidelines with some leeway grated to adjusters to adjust the claim in order to prevent the claim from being fully litigated in court. There is a wide range of levels of compensation which may fluctuate seasonally and with the economy and dictates of the insurance industry setting the varying levels of compensation to claimants. Some insurers have experimented with using computers which tabulate the data that is presented and grant the adjuster a level of money authority for which to settle the claim.
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