Accident Information

What Is Emotional Distress in a Personal Injury Case?

Posted in Accident Information on August 24, 2021

A traumatic accident, such as a motor vehicle wreck or slip and fall, can cause considerable emotional distress for a victim. Emotional distress is a broad phrase in civil law that can refer to many different negative feelings and personal consequences related to an accident, aside from physical injuries and property damage. In Nebraska, you can seek financial compensation for emotional distress during a personal injury case.

emotional distress in a personal injury case

What Does Emotional Distress Mean?

Emotional distress in personal injury law is a component of recovery. It falls under the umbrella of pain and suffering damages (another word for financial compensation), also referred to as noneconomic or general damages. The type of emotional distress suffered by a victim can vary according to the specific individual and the circumstances of the accident. It can include:

  • Mental anguish
  • Psychological trauma
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Fear or anxiety
  • Stress or inconvenience
  • Humiliation
  • Depression
  • Nightmares or loss of sleep
  • Loss of self-esteem
  • The inability to participate in favorite activities
  • Lost quality or enjoyment of life
  • The grief of losing a loved one

Emotional distress in a personal injury case may be related to the trauma of the accident itself or the injuries suffered. The degree of emotional distress often correlates with the severity of the injuries. A catastrophic injury, for example, would most likely cause greater emotional distress than a minor injury.

How Can You Prove Emotional Distress in a Personal Injury Case?

It is possible to obtain financial compensation for emotional distress during a personal injury lawsuit in Nebraska. Before you can receive a financial award for this noneconomic loss, however, you or your Omaha personal injury attorney will have to prove emotional distress. The burden of proof rests with you, the plaintiff, in a personal injury case. 

Establishing emotional distress is more difficult than a physical injury, as you do not have hard evidence such as an x-ray available. One of the best things you can do to support your claim is to see a doctor or psychologist after your accident to describe what you are feeling. This can create a track record of you experiencing mental, psychological or emotional distress related to the accident.

When it comes to proving your claim, your attorney can help you gather evidence such as testimony from your friends and family members about how the accident has impacted you, testimony from a mental health expert, photographs and videos that demonstrate the severity of your injuries, and your own injury journal. A lawyer can help you fight for maximum financial compensation for both economic and noneconomic losses.

How Is Pain and Suffering Calculated?

Emotional distress is also more difficult to quantify in terms of the value that it will bring to your case. Pain and suffering damages are determined by a jury. Judges, however, do not give juries a lot in terms of guidelines for calculating the value of emotional distress. Instead, jurors are instructed to use their own common sense and reason to determine a fair and reasonable figure based on the facts of the case.

That being said, a jury may use a calculation method to place a value on emotional distress. One of the most common is the multiplier method. A multiplier is a number between 1.5 and 4, in most cases, that represents the severity of the victim’s injuries and losses. The victim’s economic damages are multiplied by the multiplier assigned to determine a fair amount in pain and suffering. Keep in mind, however, that a jury does not have to use this equation – or any equation at all – to calculate pain and suffering damages.

The best way to maximize your financial recovery for emotional distress in a personal injury case is by hiring an attorney in Omaha to represent you. An attorney can help you prove this intangible loss and illustrate the severity of your pain and suffering in a compelling way to a jury. Consult with a lawyer today for more information about emotional distress in your case.

How Do I Get a Copy of My Police Report?

Posted in Accident Information on August 12, 2021

If you get into a motor vehicle accident, the police report can provide a staple piece of evidence for your automobile insurance claim or a personal injury lawsuit. The police report contains important information about the accident from an unbiased law enforcement officer. Most insurance companies ask for a copy of your police report to process a claim. Find out how to obtain a certified copy of this document after a car accident in Omaha, Nebraska.

police report copy

Call the Police From the Scene of the Accident

First, you will need to make sure that a police report is drawn up. The only way to do this is by contacting the local police station as soon as possible after your collision. Best practice is to use your cell phone to call 911 while still at the scene of the accident. This is legally required by Nebraska Revised Statute 60-699 if a car accident causes any injuries, deaths or property damage in excess of $1,000. Even if your accident is minor, calling the police can help you document the crash with an official report.

When the police arrive at the scene of the accident, give them your side of the story but do not admit fault for the collision. Do not speculate about the facts of the crash, such as who is responsible. Stick to the facts as you know them to be true. Also, do not answer any questions about your injuries right away. Instead, state that you are not sure if you are injured and will be going to a hospital in Omaha.

Wait Up to 10 Days

It may take up to 10 days for the responding police officer to submit the accident report to the law enforcement office and for them to process the paperwork. It could take less time than this, however, depending on the case. You can call as soon as the day after your accident to check to see if the report is available, but expect to wait a few days, if necessary.

You are also legally required to report the accident to the Nebraska Department of Transportation within 10 days if it meets any of the above-mentioned parameters. You can report your accident online, in person to the nearest office, by mail to “Highway Safety, Nebraska Department of Transportation, P.O. Box 94759, Lincoln, NE 68509-4759,” or by calling (402) 479-4645.

Call Your County’s Police Office

Once the investigating officer’s accident report is processed, it will become public information. If you are a party that was directly involved in the crash or a relative of someone who was involved, you can call the law enforcement office and purchase a certified copy of your accident report. You can also give your car accident lawyer permission to obtain the record for you. The current price for a certified copy is $13.00 plus tax. 

The correct office is the one in the county where the car accident took place. You will need the following information for the clerk to locate your accident report:

  • The date of the collision
  • The location of the crash, including the county
  • The name of the motor vehicle driver

You can either call the law enforcement office or send a written letter to their mailing address with a check to obtain a copy. Note that you can only access your own accident report, not the other driver’s. Every report is confidential and only accessible by certain parties. If you were required to file a report with the Nebraska Department of Transportation, you can also obtain a copy of this report by searching for it on their website.

Why Do You Need a Copy of Your Police Report?

A police report can help you prove details of your accident to an insurance company, such as which direction both vehicles were traveling. It may also contain the police officer’s opinion on the cause of the crash. While this won’t confirm liability in itself, it could be used as evidence against the other driver. For further assistance proving a car accident case in Omaha, consult with an attorney today.

 

 

What Is Legal Discovery?

Posted in Accident Information on July 30, 2021

If a personal injury case goes to trial in Nebraska, it will go through a process known as legal discovery. Discovery is a fact-finding phase, where both parties involved in a legal dispute have the chance to gather information and evidence from one another. Although certain aspects of legal discovery may seem daunting, such as attending a deposition, a personal injury lawyer in Omaha can guide you through this step of a lawsuit if it is necessary for your case.

what is legal discovery

About Legal Discovery

In general, you will only need to go through legal discovery if your personal injury lawsuit goes to trial. The vast majority of personal injury cases achieve settlements, meaning the plaintiff and defendant reach an agreement on how to resolve a dispute without involving a judge or jury. Legal discovery is not necessary to achieve a settlement. 

If the insurance company refuses to offer a fair or reasonable settlement, however, or wrongfully rejects the claim, the personal injury case may need to go to court for a resolution. After you or your lawyer file the paperwork to initiate a personal injury lawsuit in Douglas County, you will wait for a response from the defendant. If the defendant does not accept liability, a court date will be set and you will enter into the legal discovery phase of your lawsuit.

What Does Legal Discovery Involve? 

The goal of legal discovery is to make both parties privy to the same information and evidence. This can prevent unwelcome surprises to either party during the trial, as well as eliminate redundancies to make the claims process more efficient. Legal discovery is a methodical process that involves three basic stages: 

  1. Written discovery. You may receive written questionnaires known as interrogatories that you must fill out to the best of your knowledge under penalty of perjury. Interrogatories ask for your version of the events related to a claim. The questions can be broad or specific. If you receive an interrogatory, you can work with an attorney for assistance answering the questions and replying by the deadline. 

 

  1. Production of evidence and documentation. Next, both parties can subpoena the other side of the case (request a court order) to require the production of records, documents, photographs, computer files and other evidence for inspection. Both parties have the right to see documents that relate to a case. This stage may also involve an independent medical exam required of the accident victim.

 

  1. Oral depositions. Finally, the discovery phase may involve depositions. These are oral statements given under oath that answer questions asked by the attorney representing the other side. Depositions are often taken in person. A court reporter is in attendance to create transcripts of the meeting. You may have an attorney present during an oral deposition to guide you on what to say and what not to say.

 

A personal injury lawyer can give you advice during legal discovery to protect you from making mistakes that could hurt your claim. For example, it is important not to guess or speculate when answering questions. Stick to the truth and the facts as you know them, keep your answers short and simple, and respond that you don’t know if you do not have the answer to a question. 

How a Personal Injury Attorney Can Help

Legal discovery can take a long time and feel intrusive. It may be the last thing you wish to do while also dealing with a serious injury from an accident in Omaha. However, it is an important step of your personal injury lawsuit that can strengthen your claim if done correctly. 

Hiring a personal injury lawyer to represent you can make the discovery phase more manageable and less stressful for you and your family. A lawyer can prevent you from doing or saying something that could hurt your case. For more information about legal discovery, as well as assistance with every step of your personal injury case, contact an attorney in Omaha today.

What Is a Hematoma and What Causes It?

Posted in Accident Information on July 21, 2021

If you are involved in an accident in Nebraska, you may be diagnosed with an injury known as a hematoma. This type of injury forms when a blood vessel leaks or is ruptured. Depending on the location and severity of your hematoma, it could be dangerous and have wide-ranging health complications.

hematoma

What Is a Hematoma?

A hematoma is a collection or pocket of blood that has leaked from a damaged blood vessel. Essentially, it is a serious type of bruise. A standard bruise is a mild and confined type of hematoma. A hematoma is not a blood clot, nor will it cause a blood clot. It is blood that has leaked or burst from a damaged blood vessel. When something ruptures a blood vessel or makes it leak blood (hemorrhage) into the surrounding tissues or body cavity, it forms a hematoma. 

There are different types of hematomas based on where they occur. A subcutaneous hematoma occurs beneath the skin, while an intramuscular hematoma occurs within the muscles or other soft tissues. A hematoma inside the nose is a septal hematoma, and inside the ear is an auricular hematoma. A patient can also experience a hematoma inside of the skull from bleeding in the brain. These hematomas are epidural, subdural, subarachnoid or intracerebral.

Common Causes of Hematomas

Trauma is the number one cause of hematomas. Trauma from an external force can injure the blood vessels enough to cause them to rupture or leak blood into the surrounding area. Trauma or an injury that affects the small blood vessels can cause a simple bruise. Damage to larger vessels, however, can cause more severe hemorrhaging and larger hematomas. Some of the most common causes of hematomas are:

  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Falls
  • Bumps or blows to the head
  • An explosion or blast
  • Gunshot wounds or stabbings
  • Bone fractures or orthopedic injuries

Medications can also cause hematomas, such as blood thinners. If you are involved in a traumatic accident and have reason to suspect a hematoma, see a doctor for an official diagnosis and treatment plan. Although a minor hematoma will go away on its own without special medical treatment, a severe hematoma may require medications or even surgery.

How to Tell if You Have a Hematoma

When blood collects and pools beneath the skin, it can cause visible symptoms, such as a reddish or purplish discoloration of the skin, or skin that changes from red to blue to green to yellow over time, similar to a typical bruise. A hematoma can also cause swelling, pain, redness and warmth around the affected area. If the hematoma occurs as part of a head injury, symptoms may also include confusion, headache, weakness, vomiting, trouble breathing, lethargy and sudden changes in mood.

Is a Hematoma Serious?

This answer depends on the location of the hematoma and potential related complications. If the hematoma is part of a brain injury, it is serious and requires emergency medical care. If you notice any of the above-listed symptoms of a head injury alongside a hematoma, go to a hospital in Omaha without delay. Other signs that a hematoma may be a symptom of a life-threatening injury include:

  • Abnormal pupil size
  • Neck or back pain
  • A rapidly progressing hematoma
  • Severe bleeding from the face or head
  • Seizures 
  • Loss of consciousness

A hematoma could also be serious if it occurs in a confined space, such as the lining that covers the outside of the heart (the pericardium). A hematoma that expands within an enclosed space can place pressure on the surrounding arteries and veins, interrupting the blood flow and causing serious complications such as organ damage. It is important to see a doctor if you believe you have a hematoma.

If you have a hematoma due to someone else’s carelessness or recklessness, contact a personal injury lawyer in Omaha to discuss your ability to file a claim.

What Are Liens and How Will They Affect My Settlement?

Posted in Accident Information on July 17, 2021

You may have many unpaid bills and debts after an accident in Omaha. It is common for an accident victim not to have the means to pay for expensive medical treatments and property repairs out of pocket. This can result in liens, or legal claims to a portion of your settlement. 

what are liens

What Is a Lien?

A lien is a claim placed on something that you own by a creditor. A lien gives the creditor (also known as a lienholder) the legal right to take the property in question if you fail to repay your debt. If there is a lien against your vehicle, for example, a creditor can retain ownership of your vehicle and sell it to pay off your debts if you don’t make a payment by the deadline. Liens are often part of an agreement to purchase an item, such as a vehicle or home. Liens can also be part of a legal action.

Common Types of Liens in Personal Injury Cases

It is possible to have a lien against your settlement or judgment award in a personal injury case. The most common type is a medical lien, brought by a hospital or health care provider to pay for an injured accident victim’s medical costs. In many cases, a hospital will pay for the costs of an injured accident victim’s care upfront and seek reimbursement from another party later, such as the patient’s health insurance company.

The party that pays for your medical care may make you sign a lien agreement before treating you. This document states that you agree to pay the health care provider back, either out of your own pocket or out of a settlement achieved with a personal injury lawsuit. It also gives the health care provider the right to take a part of your settlement to pay off your medical debt. You may also be able to provide a letter of protection from an attorney promising the health care provider a portion of your settlement if the provider offers care.

Other types of liens that may be involved in a personal injury suit include a Medicaid or Medicare lien, a Veterans Affairs lien, a mechanic’s lien, a private insurance provider lien, and a workers’ compensation lien. You may also encounter a judgment lien if someone wins a lawsuit against you. If you are found liable for someone else’s injury, that person may become a lienholder if you cannot pay the full amount of the settlement or judgment award upfront.

How Are Liens Paid?

If there is a lien against your settlement or judgment award in Nebraska, it will be paid before you can keep the remaining amount of the award for yourself. First, your lawyer will file your personal injury claim and fight for the financial compensation that you deserve for losses such as your medical expenses, property damage, lost wages, and pain and suffering. If your personal injury case is successful, the defendant will have to pay for your injuries and related losses.

Before you can keep a settlement or judgment award, however, you will be legally obligated to pay off any outstanding liens. Priority typically goes to a medical lien to pay off your health care debts. Then, the remaining amount of your award will pay off any other liens and debts, as well as paying your attorney. Only then will you be able to keep the remaining award – usually the amount awarded in pain and suffering.

Can You Negotiate Liens Down?

Yes, it is possible to negotiate the value of a lien down. The best way to do so is with help from a personal injury lawyer in Omaha. A lawyer can assess all of the liens against your personal injury settlement and contact the creditors directly to try to negotiate the liens down to a fairer value. A lawyer can also carefully review your medical bills and other invoices for discrepancies, such as a hospital billing you for a test that you did not receive. A lawyer can take many steps to protect you against liens that maximize your financial recovery after an accident and injury.

 

What Are Common Soft-Tissue Injuries in Car Accidents?

Posted in Accident Information on July 11, 2021

A car accident can inflict many different types of injuries on a victim, including both hard-tissue and soft-tissue injuries. While hard-tissue injuries, such as broken bones, may be immediately obvious, it often takes time to notice a soft-tissue injury after a car accident, especially when adrenaline is masking the pain. If you are diagnosed with a soft-tissue injury after a car accident, you may be entitled to financial compensation.

soft-tissue injury

Common Soft-Tissue Injuries in Car Accidents

A soft-tissue injury refers to injury or damage to the body’s muscular system. It can encompass injuries to the muscles, tendons, ligaments and connective tissues. Common types of soft-tissue injuries are sprains and strains. A sprain means that a ligament has stretched or torn and can no longer properly support the body’s joints. A strain is a muscle or tendon injury.

Soft-tissue injuries that are frequently associated with automobile accidents include:

  • Whiplash and other neck injuries. Whiplash is one of the most common types of soft-tissue injuries from car accidents. It happens when the forces of a car accident whip the head and neck rapidly backward and forward, stretching or tearing the soft tissues of the neck.

 

  • Wrist and ankle sprains. Torn or stretched ligaments are most common around the body’s main joints, such as the wrists and ankles. These parts of the body are often sprained in car accidents due to their proximity to pedals and the steering wheel.

 

  • Rotator cuff (shoulder) tears. A torn tendon or ligament in the rotator cuff could impede the stabilization and movement of the shoulder joint, making it painful to lift and rotate your arm. A rotator cuff may be partially or completely torn in a car accident.

 

  • Back strains. A muscle in your back could suffer a strain from the gravitational forces exerted on your back and spinal cord in an auto accident. For example, you could pull or damage a muscle in the back-and-forth motion of the spine in a wreck. Back strain can cause pain, muscle spasms and immobility.

Many parts of the body can sustain a soft-tissue injury in a car wreck depending on the dynamics of the collision. The location and severity of your soft-tissue injury can determine the symptoms you experience, as well as the level of physical debilitation, if any.

Symptoms of a Soft-Tissue Injury

If you suffer any type of soft-tissue injury in a car accident, you may experience painful symptoms for days, weeks or longer. Where you notice the symptoms will depend on the area of the body that was injured in the accident. Always take a moment to check yourself for injuries in the immediate aftermath of an accident. The following symptoms may point to a soft-tissue injury:

  • Pain
  • Swelling or inflammation
  • Lost range of motion or immobility
  • Muscle spasms
  • Bruising or contusions
  • Weakness
  • Cramping

Some soft-tissue injuries are immediately apparent, while others come with delayed or hidden injuries that you might not notice right away. This is why it is important to tell a police officer and insurance company that you’re not sure whether you are injured after a car accident. Explain that you will be seeing a doctor. If you say you are not injured and discover a soft-tissue injury later, your original answer may be used against you.

Can You Recover Compensation for a Soft-Tissue Injury?

A soft-tissue injury can result in expensive medical bills and lost wages from having to take time away from work. Although most victims will fully recover from soft-tissue injuries with treatments such as rest, ice and elevation, some soft-tissue damage can be permanently debilitating or require invasive treatments, such as surgeries. 

You may be eligible for financial compensation for all of your losses after suffering a soft-tissue injury in a car accident. If one or more parties caused or contributed to the crash, their insurance company may be financially responsible for your losses. To learn how to file a car accident injury claim in Omaha, Nebraska for a soft-tissue injury, contact an Omaha personal injury lawyer near you.

What Information Do I Need to Give the Insurance Company After an Accident?

Posted in Accident Information on June 28, 2021

Knowing how to communicate with an insurance company after an accident is a critical part of your injury claim. The insurance company will be looking for holes in your claim and reasons to deny benefits. The more you know about what information to give – and to withhold – the more you can protect yourself during negotiations with an insurance carrier. If you do not wish to communicate with the insurance company on your own, you always have the right to hire a car accident lawyer in Omaha to do so for you.

Basic Facts of the Crash

First, the insurance company will request basic information about your car accident. This may include the number of parties involved, the number of vehicles damaged, and the time, date and location of the crash. You may also need to give the other driver’s information, including his or her name and the name of the driver’s insurance carrier. Finally, the insurance company will ask for your police report number. If you did not call the police to report the car crash, this could hurt your claim.

It can help to gather this information beforehand so that your conversation with the insurance claims adjuster – the professional assigned to your claim – goes smoother. The more information you have about your car accident, the stronger you can make your claim. Write down as much as you can remember about the car accident immediately afterward, while the memories are still fresh in your mind. Speak to eyewitnesses and request a copy of your police report for more information.

Proof of Your Losses

Once the insurance claims adjuster obtains information from you by questioning you as a witness, he or she will contact the other driver with similar questions. Then, the insurance company will investigate the accident further by reviewing evidence and photographs, revisiting the scene of the accident, examining property damage in person, and taking other actions.

Next, the insurance company will ask you for proof of your losses. It is your responsibility to demonstrate that you suffered losses in the car accident, such as physical injuries and property damage. You can do this by submitting evidence in the form of your medical records, bills, paystubs, letters from your doctor and employer, photographs, and videos.

What Not to Say to an Insurance Company

Perhaps even more important than knowing what to say to an insurance claims adjuster is knowing what not to say. During your conversations with a claims adjuster or another representative from the insurance company, be careful not to say anything that could hurt your case. The insurance company will be looking for reasons to deny coverage or reduce your payout. The adjuster may twist what you say around to use against you.

Keep the following tips in mind when discussing your car accident claim with an insurer:

  • Do not admit fault for the accident or injuries.
  • Do not speculate about fault if you aren’t sure who is to blame.
  • Do not give long, narrative answers to questions.
  • Do not say you don’t have any injuries until you’ve been to a doctor.
  • Do not agree to give the adjuster a recorded statement.
  • Do not give the insurance company permission to access your medical records.
  • Do not accept a settlement until you’ve spoken to an attorney.

You do not have to handle the claims process on your own after a serious car accident in Omaha. You have the right to hire legal representation to take over insurance claim negotiations on your behalf. A car accident lawyer can communicate with the claims adjuster for you, protecting your right to recover maximum financial compensation every step of the way. A lawyer will know how to handle conversations with claims adjusters, as well as what documents and information to submit to the insurance company for a stronger claim.

For more advice about how to handle the insurance claims process after a car crash, contact an attorney near you.

What Is a Lien on a Personal Injury Settlement?

Posted in Accident Information on June 20, 2021

A personal injury case can involve many complicated issues, including liens. A lien is a legal claim to a portion of an injured victim’s settlement money in a personal injury case. Insurance companies, hospitals and others may have a legal claim against your injury settlement if you could not pay out of pocket for all of the expenses related to an accident in Nebraska, such as your medical costs and property repairs. Learning more about liens can allow you to protect yourself financially after receiving a settlement or judgment award.

What Is a Lien? How Do Liens Work in Personal Injury Claims?

If a lien is placed against your personal injury settlement, it means that a third party has ownership over part of the settlement or judgment award won to pay for a debt you owe. The most common example is a medical lien. If you required emergency medical care immediately after your accident and did not pay out of pocket for this care, the health care provider fronted the costs of your medical treatment. The medical provider will then have the right to place a lien against your settlement to recoup what it spent on your medical treatments.

Other common types of liens include:

  • Health insurance lien
  • Medicare or Medicaid lien
  • Workers’ compensation lien
  • Veterans benefits lien
  • Auto insurance carrier lien
  • Mechanic’s lien

With a lien against your settlement, you will have no choice but to pay the third party the debt that is owed. If you recover financial compensation through a personal injury settlement or judgment and there is a lien in place, a portion of your award will go toward fulfilling the lien before you can use the rest of the amount to pay for other injury expenses. You will also have to use part of your settlement to pay for your legal representation, if applicable.

How to Handle a Settlement Lien

If you find out that someone has placed a lien against your personal injury settlement, learn as much as you can about the lien. Keep and review all documentation you receive from the third party about the lien, including the lien notice. Learn the laws in your state regarding personal injury settlement liens to confirm if the private or public lienholder has the legal right to claim part of your settlement.

Keep in mind that a federal lien will take precedence over any other liens against your settlement. This means you will have to pay the federal lien before paying the others. Finally, contact an attorney to safeguard your settlement and fully understand how one or more liens may affect your claim.

Can You Negotiate a Lien Down?

Whether or not a lien is legal and valid depends on the circumstances. Many states have laws that control how long a lien is legal. There might be an exception that takes away the third party’s right to file a lien against your settlement. If the lien against your settlement is valid, you may be able to negotiate it down with help from a personal injury lawyer in Omaha. An attorney can work with the medical provider or another third party to negotiate how much you owe, as well as protect you by ensuring that you get a fair share of the settlement.

A lawyer will also recommend other ways to maximize your financial recovery, such as not settling too quickly or accepting less than you are eligible to receive in compensation. Your lawyer will have knowledge about liens and reimbursement that can help you protect your legal rights through every phase of your personal injury lawsuit Hiring a lawyer from the beginning can save you money, time and stress, as well as protect your family’s financial future after a serious accident.

For more information about liens in personal injury law, contact Knowles Law Firm to speak to an attorney today.

Are Liability Waivers Enforceable in Nebraska?

Posted in Accident Information on June 15, 2021

If you signed a liability waiver before participating in the sport, event or activity that injured you in Nebraska, you may wonder if you still have the right to file a lawsuit for your injuries and losses. The answer depends on the exact language of the liability waiver and the actions of the at-fault party. Discuss your accident in more detail with a personal injury lawyer in Omaha to find out if you have a case.

What Is a Liability Waiver?

Certain activities come with inherent injury risks, such as watching a live baseball game or going rock climbing. Even a day spent at the gym or a daycare center could lead to serious physical injuries. Liability waivers are binding legal documents that protect individuals and organizations from liability, or legal and financial responsibility, for injuries or deaths suffered during a risky activity. With a liability waiver in place, a defendant may avoid liability even if he or she was negligent.

Negligence is a legal term that refers to any type of careless or reckless acts or rule violations that cause harm or injury to others. Most personal injury lawsuits are based on the argument that one or more defendants were negligent and that this is what caused the injury in question. If there was a liability waiver in place, however, the injured victim may be barred from bringing a lawsuit against the defendant, even if there is proof of the defendant’s negligence or mistake.

What Does a Liability Waiver Protect Against?

A liability waiver effectively releases a party from all legal responsibility for injuries, illnesses, property damage or deaths associated with an event. This includes damages connected to an inherent risk of the activity as well as damages suffered from the defendant’s negligence. For a liability waiver to be enforceable in Nebraska, it must:

  • Be in writing and signed by the plaintiff or plaintiff’s parent or legal guardian.
  • Be clearly worded and unambiguous in its language.
  • Be prominent rather than hiding in the fine print of a long or confusing contract.

If the contract is legally enforceable, it means the plaintiff knowingly agreed to assume the risks of the activity, and that the plaintiff therefore cannot file a lawsuit for any personal injuries suffered while on the premises or engaging in the activity in question. If it is not enforceable or there are loopholes, however, the victim may still have recovery options.

Do You Still Have Grounds for a Lawsuit?

Liability waivers are most common when participating in risky activities such as scuba diving, horseback riding and whitewater rafting. They are also commonly used at gyms, daycare centers, sports stadiums, cruise ships and spas. Other words for liability waivers are release of liability waivers, waivers of rights, waivers of liability, assumption agreements, indemnity agreements and pre-injury releases. Be careful before signing any type of liability waiver in Nebraska, as you may be signing away your right to hold someone responsible for serious injuries.

Even if you did sign a liability waiver or assume the risks of a dangerous activity, you may still have grounds to file a personal injury lawsuit. Liability waivers are not foolproof. Some waivers are not legally enforceable due to a mistake such as ambiguous phrasing or the failure to properly warn participants of foreseeable injury risks. It is important to bring your case to a personal injury lawyer in Omaha for an in-depth assessment.

A lawyer can carefully look over the liability waiver that you or a loved one signed to check its validity and legality. Then, the lawyer can investigate the accident to determine who or what caused your injury. Next, the lawyer can determine if you still have grounds to bring a lawsuit against the defendant for negligently or recklessly causing the injury despite signing a waiver. If so, your lawyer can help you fight for fair financial compensation for your medical bills, property repairs and other losses.

What Is the Duty to Mitigate a Personal Injury Case?

Posted in Accident Information on June 8, 2021

As the victim of a personal injury accident, you may not realize that you have certain duties of care. For example, you have a responsibility to mitigate your damages and losses as much as possible. If you fail to fulfill the duty to mitigate, you could receive a reduced payout from an insurance company – or a denied claim altogether. Learn more about your duty to mitigate to better protect your right to recover financial compensation in Nebraska.

What Does it Mean to Mitigate Your Damages?

Mitigate means to reduce or minimize. In personal injury law, the duty to mitigate is a victim’s responsibility to take reasonable steps to minimize the consequences of an injury or accident. If you get injured in an accident in Omaha, you could be eligible for financial compensation from the person or party that caused the accident. If you contributed to the extent of your injuries by failing to mitigate your damages, however, you could be partially at fault and less eligible for recovery.

The responsibility to mitigate only goes as far as what is ordinary and reasonable. You do not have an obligation to take extraordinary steps to reduce your losses following an injury. You must only act in good faith and with due diligence to exercise an ordinary amount of care and reasonable judgment when seeking treatment for your injuries. Failing to do so, resulting in exacerbated injuries or losses, could negatively affect your injury claim.

How Can the Duty to Mitigate Impact Your Case?

If a prudent plaintiff reasonably would have done more to lessen the extent of your injuries or losses, you may be accused of failure to mitigate. This could lead to the loss of your right to recover the portion of damages that could have been prevented. Since Nebraska is a comparative fault state, if you are found to be 50 percent or more at fault for your current injuries and damages because of the failure to mitigate, you could be barred entirely from financial recovery.

If you are less than 50 percent responsible, however, you can still recover a partial award. The courts will simply reduce your recovery by your percentage of fault. For example, if you reasonably could have prevented an additional surgery and several weeks of being unable to work had you gone to a hospital right away, the courts would leave your preventable damages out of your recovery award.

Ways You Can Mitigate Your Damages

It is important to take your duty to mitigate seriously as an injured accident victim. The duty to mitigate requires a plaintiff to take reasonable steps to minimize the severity and effects of an injury. What is reasonable depends on the circumstances and what a rational victim would have done in the same circumstances to reduce the extent of the injury. In general, you should take the following steps to protect your wellbeing and fulfill the duty to mitigate:

  • Go to hospital or doctor right away
  • Follow your doctor’s treatment plan exactly
  • Follow your doctor’s recommendations, such as by undergoing surgery
  • Attend all follow-up appointments
  • Act reasonably to minimize your injuries

Delaying your doctor’s appointment after an accident, choosing not to undergo a surgery that could significantly lessen the consequences of an injury or ignoring your doctor’s treatment plan could all lead to an allegation that you failed to reasonably mitigate your damages. This could ultimately reduce the payout you receive for your injuries, medical bills, pain and suffering, and other losses.

Taking reasonable actions to reduce your losses after an accident, on the other hand, can maximize the outcome of your injury claim. It will prevent the defendant from using the defense that you failed to mitigate your damages. This can help you and your family obtain fair financial compensation for the full extent of your injuries and related losses.

For more information about how to mitigate your damages, or for assistance combatting this defense in a personal injury case, contact an attorney in Omaha.