Accident law in Q&A

What should I do if I got into an accident or suffered an injury? Where should I call first?

Of course, first of all you should make a call to the police. It is desirable that the injured person capture in documents all injuries received. To do this contact the hospital. If possible, make detailed pictures of the crime scene or accident. Sometimes the accident cause may be a crack in the pavement, slippery floor in the store, open hatch and so on. After you got necessary help from the emergency services, call your lawyer.

How much time passes from the moment of contacting a lawyer to getting compensation?

Everything depends on the complexity of the case. In some cases, the person receives compensation within a few months, in other – waits for a few years. Courts are too overwhelmed, so sometimes affected people have to wait. If you are living in a big city with a developed infrastructure like New York, auto accidents, construction accidents and injuries, unfortunately, become commonplace here. Experience shows that New Yorkers could be affected in a completely anywhere: in your own home, on the street, in private and public transport, elevators, stores, at work, in public parks, etc…

An accident may happen everywhere, and no one is immune from it.

An accident may happen everywhere, and no one is immune from it.

Does a person who receives compensation for pain and suffering save government benefits (Medicare, Medicaid, Section Eight, SSI, etc.)?

This question can not be answered in unambiguous terms. The answer depends on a variety of factors, among them: the amount of compensation and types of benefits received.

What are the most common medical errors committed by doctors?

Every day in the country doctors made thousands of different medical errors, after which people either die or remain disabled for life. As practice shows, errors are done by doctors of various specialties. Also today childbirth errors are very common.

What factors influence the amount of compensation for the victims of personal injury?

A person guilty of causing injury (and, consequently, their representatives from an onsurance company) is obliged to compensate medical treatment costs and loss of income because of the incapacity for work caused by an accident. At the same time it does not matter whether the job was permanent or temporary, full-time or hourly, for another employer or as a freelance worker. In addition, the victim may receive money for physical pain, suffering, disability, damage caused to his family, social or educational future (college, planned vacation or remarkable dates), emotional damage (state of stress, depression, disorder in family relationships), failing to take care of children, stress caused by the consequences of the incident – for example, a stillborn child or sexual disorder. Finally, the amount of compensation includes damage of material property, usually as a result of car accidents.

How to estimate the damage?

It is easy to count the money spent on doctors or car repairs. It is more difficult to specify the figure expressing physical pain or lost job prospects. For this purpose damage assessment formula is used. At the beginning of the negotiations with the insurance company all the medical costs associated with an accident are summed up. This initial figure is the basis for both parties of the accidents (the victim and the perpetrator) to establish the final amount of compensation. For example, if the injury is not very serious, the amount of compensation will be 1.5-2 times greater than the initial figures, in the case of more serious injuries, it will increase to 4 or 5 times. Then, financial losses caused by the incapacity for work are added to the sum. If the opposite side bears full responsibility for the incident, the latter figure becomes final. If the victim is partially to blame for the incident, the amount of compensation will be reduced by this same share of the blame. For example, if it is proved that you acted negligently, which contributed 25% to the incident, you may qualify for compensation for the quarter smaller than if the blame is completely laid down on the opposite party.

Personal injury law: brain injuries

Brain injuries and their consequences are one of the most difficult unsettled problems of modern medicine. They are of paramount importance due to their prevalence and serious medical and social consequences. Typically, the number of people who suffered a head injury significantly increases in periods of wars and years around them. However, in peacetime, due to increasing the level of technical development, injury rates are quite high.

Types of head injuries

Brain injuries are mechanical damages of the brain and skull bones, varied in type and severity. Head injuries are divided into open and closed. When an injury is closed, the integrity of skull bones is not violated, but if it is, the injury is open. Open head injuries can be penetrating and non-penetrating. Penetrating injuries imply damaged brain substance and meninx; with non-penetrating injuries the brain and brain membranes remain intact.

Forensic medical investigation of brain injuries

Forensic psychiatric evaluation of persons in personal injury cases is ambiguous and depends on the stage and clinical implications of the disease. The most complex is expert assessment of the acuity of traumatic disease, because experts do not observe it personally. To assess the mental condition in retrospect, they use medical documentation of surgical hospitals, where the patient usually is sent immediately after getting a head injury, criminal case files and the patient’s description regarding their state in that period. In view of the retro- and anterograde amnesia the information reported by patients is extremely scarce. However, practice shows that in the acute period of traumatic disease serious illegal actions against the person, transport crimes are often committed. The expert evaluation of the victims becomes massively important.

Brain injuries may lead to serious consequences.

Brain injuries may lead to serious consequences.

Forensic psychiatric examination of the victims who sustained a head injury in a criminal situation has its peculiarities. In such case a set of issues is observed, such as
the ability of a person to perceive the facts of the case and to give testimony,
the ability to understand the character illegal acts committed against them,
the ability to participate in the judicial and investigative activities and exercise their right to protection (capacity to sue) regarding their mental state.
In respect of such persons comprehensive evaluation is carried out by the representative of forensics, who state the severity of injuries sustained in the result of the criminal situation in head injuries. If a person got minor injury, he or she can correctly perceive the circumstances of the incident and give testimony, as well as understand the nature and significance of action and to exercise their right to defense with the help of brain injury lawyer.

Injury law: assault and battery

Offences against health appear in their two forms – assault and battery. Originally, these crimes come from English common law and retain its features in the basis. However, in America they have acquired some peculiarities. This is especially true when we are speaking about aggravations by assaults and batteries.

Difference

The distinction between these crimes is drawn by one of fundamental aspect – physical contact of the offender and the aggrieved person. If the accused, for example, waving his fist in front of the latter and threatening to hit him, it is an assault. If the threat turns to action, it is a battery.

According to the common law a slightest touch is enough to reclassify an assault into battery. An assault may be an attempt of a battery and (or) intimidation with causing a battery.

Assault

The criminal codes of different states set different approaches to defining the assault. In some, it is a crime defined as an attempt of battery, in others – as placing someone in the state of reasonable fear of suffering a battery, but more often the two definitions are used. Some of the criminal codes do not define an assault at all, while in many other such provisions either do not exist or an assault in them is delineated as a battery. In the last case, the responsibility for the assault as an attempted battery is considered according to the general provisions of attempted acts. As for the assaults in the form of intimidation, they are usually covered by liability rules for threats or intimidations.

Often the assault results in a battery. However, there are cases when a battery (personal injury) is inflicted without an assault, that is without foregoing threats.

Assault charges should be reasonable.

Assault charges should be reasonable.

Battery

It must be emphasized, that the two terms are rather conventional, especially the term “battery”, as it can mean a variety of actions and inaction as well.

There are some more or less common features of legislation concerning the liability for the battery.

Firstly, the battery are now generally understood in a different way than before according to the common law. For example, the modern statutes prescribe that one touch is not enough for a conviction of a battery. Usually it requires a bodily injury caused by the accused.

Secondly, only a few states have articles about battery in their criminal codes. These include, for example, Wisconsin and California. There are the states, which contain articles entitled “assault” which is a “battery” in fact, or rather, infliction of bodily injury (criminal code of New York). The refusal of many state legislators from using the term “battery” is positive phenomenon, as the term “assault” more accurately reflects the nature of the act.

Thirdly, the legislation of many states divide a battery into degrees, usually three, like in the criminal code of New York, but sometimes a larger number of degrees are described, such as in the criminal code of Kentucky (four).