If you or someone you know has been injured as a result of an accident the first steps to preserving your rights and maximizing your chances for receiving a full and fair recovery begin immediately. Therefore although state law may allow you one, two, or three years to bring your case before the courts, depending on the nature of the claim, the time to see a lawyer is now.
Most of us are required by law or by the terms of our mortgage or other contracts to provide and pay for various forms of insurance throughout our adult lives. Our premiums are paid in exchange for the insurance company's promise to reimburse others in the unlikely and extremely rare event that we somehow accidentally or carelessly cause injury to another. In most cases, the person or company who caused your injury will have paid for similar insurance to cover your injuries.
Accidental injury may be the result of a property owner's failure to maintain his or her premises in a safe condition, from an automobile or motorcycle accident, from a poorly designed or defective product, or from the negligence of a medical professional or other caregiver. In order to make a claim against someone who is at fault for your injuries it is not necessary that you, yourself, be completely free of responsibility. Most often accidents result from a combination of factors and it is the job of the courts to decide what share of responsibility if any, belongs to the injured party and to what extent, if any, an award of damages should be reduced to account for that shared responsibility.
Your visit to us to discuss whether you may have a valid claim for personal injuries is free of charge. In fact, in most cases involving accidental injuries, no fees are charged for the services you retain us to perform unless and until you have received a settlement or award in your case. Injuries caused by the intentional act of another person, such as an assault, are a special case. Because insurance generally does not cover such injuries, our fee structure for this type of lawsuit must be determined on a case-by-case basis in consultation with you. During your free initial consultation we will begin to evaluate your case and will give you advice regarding the steps you should take to preserve and maximize your claim.
One type of case about which little is generally known is the spousal tort claim. This is an action for damages resulting from domestic abuse. A claim based on spousal tort can be brought at the same time as an action for dissolution of marriage and, in appropriate cases, may even be brought following a dissolution of marriage as long as the victim of abuse did not sign a Separation Agreement containing a general release. The reason Connecticut courts allow such claims even after fault issues have been litigated in a family case, is that the family court must limit its award to a percentage of the assets available for distribution whereas in the separate civil case for damages, the amount of damages is based on the nature and extent of the injuries and may therefore be much greater. If you or someone you know has been injured as the result of domestic violence a lawyer should be consulted as soon as possible just as in any other injury case.
Here are a few things you should do if you have been injured in a situation where someone else might be responsible, intentionally or not, for your injuries: First, make sure you get medical attention. Make notes of the circumstances of your accident as soon as possible while events are fresh in your mind. Also take notes about your injuries and symptoms. The more completely you describe your injuries and symptoms to your doctor, the more complete your medical records will be when they are provided as evidence for your case. Also, it is likely that you will be reimbursed not just for your medical expenses, but also for your loss of income from missed work, your loss of enjoyment of ordinary activities, and for the pain and discomfort you suffer. In many cases, this might include psychological pain as well as physical pain. By all means, seek appropriate treatment for both.
Your notes should also include the names and addresses of individuals involved as well as individuals who may have witnessed the accident or the aftermath as it affected you. To the extent possible, you should supplement your notes with photographs. Photographs can be used to document the accident scene, the product or animal that caused your injuries, and the injuries, themselves. It is easy to appreciate how much more effective than written reports, such photos can be, a year or more later, in conveying the nature of your injuries.
The process of documenting the accident should continue for as long as you continue to be affected by it. For instance, you should keep notes describing all aspects of the healing process including a thorough description of any rehabilitation treatments you undergo.
It is also important to know what not to do after an accident. First and foremost, while you should move out of the zone of immediate danger, you should not leave the scene of an accident except to seek treatment for injuries. Do not move your vehicle after a motor vehicle accident except as directed by police or to protect the safety of others. Do not discuss fault with others. While your apology may simply be your way of expressing your regret that the accident happened at all, it may later be construed as an admission that you were primarily at fault. Next, do not throw away potential evidence such a defective product and do not let a witness or party leave the scene without first requesting his or her name, address and phone number.
Finally, do not discuss settlement terms with an insurance adjuster without first discussing your rights with a qualified personal injury lawyer. What may sound to you like a generous settlement offer may in fact be inadequate to compensate you for entire categories of physical, financial and future damages which you might otherwise overlook
We, at Lochiatto and Lawrence appreciate your confidence and will do everything possible to process your case quickly, efficiently, and -- as we do in every area of our practice -- consistently with your own opinions and priorities.