There is a large body of law that governs your right to recover for personal injuries you sustained.
First, some basic questions:
What caused the injury?
Was it a swimming or boating accident?
A bus, train or plane accident?
A "slip and fall"?
A defective or dangerous product?
Malpractice by a doctor, dentist, lawyer, accountant or other professional?
Somebody defamed you, with a slander or libel?
Was the injury caused by someone's intentional act? That may give rise to punitive damages.
Where did the accident occur?
The law of that state will generally govern your rights to recover.
If the accident occurred "at work" or "in the course of your employment", then Worker's Compensation Laws may govern.
When did the injury occur?
There are requirements for giving timely notice of your claim and/or "statutes of limitation" that require you to file suit within a certain time limit. These limits vary greatly state by state and by type of matter. If you don't give timely notice you forever lose your ability to obtain recovery.
NEVER JUST LOOK AT THE STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS AND CONCLUDE "THE TIME HAS EXPIRED, IT'S TOO LATE". There are many things that sometimes extend or "toll" the time limits, including a party's lack of knowledge of the facts and circumstances, lack of manifestation of the injury, false statements or fraud, or mental incapacity or infancy.
One injury may sometimes give rise to several different rights or theories of recovery, so even if you can not recover on Grounds A you still may be able to recover on Grounds B.
Who was injured?
You -- as well as your spouse -- may be entitled to recover for an injury to just one of you.
The family or estate of a deceased may be entitled to recover for the person's wrongful death.
What was the extent of the injury?
The amount of recovery you can obtain often depends on the nature of the injury, its duration (permanent or short term), your out of pocket costs (such as medical expenses, your loss of salary or wages, damage to property), the residual impacts (such as an inability to engage in sports, etc.), the pain and suffering you incurred, and the skill and experience of your lawyer.
Who was responsible for the injury?
The person you think may be responsible may be just one of many responsible. For example, if you were injured by a car that went out of control, not only the driver of the car may be responsible, but the car's owner, the driver's employer, the manufacturer of the car and the brakes that failed and the repair shop that didn't adjust them properly.
Even if you think you were fully or partially responsible, you may still be able to recover -- in full or in part. People often blame themselves or feel guilty when the injury was not the result of anything they did wrong.
WARNING: IF A STATE OR COUNTY OR MUNICIPALITY MAY BE LIABLE (such as when a transportation facility operated by governmental unit is responsible for the injury) THERE OFTEN ARE VERY SHORT TIME LIMITS TO GIVE NOTICE OF A CLAIM.
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