Injuries to muscles, tendons and ligaments are considered soft tissue injuries. These types of injuries are usually sprains, strains or contusions (bruises) and do not involve the bones or organs. Such injuries may occur over a long period of time (often job related) or due to a single incident, such as an automobile accident. The most common example of a soft tissue injury due to a single event is whiplash, which is an injury to the neck due to a sharp backwards/forwards motion. Additional types of soft tissue injuries may include tendonitis, bursitis, damage to nerves, dislocation or tearing of a ligament, muscle or tendon. These injuries can be very painful and may take an extensive period of time to heal; some injuries may even be ongoing. If you have been injured, it is important to seek medical attention to evaluate your injuries and treat them. If you have suffered soft tissue injuries, a personal injury attorney may assist you in determining your legal options and seeking compensation for your injuries.
Proving Your Personal Injury Case
Soft tissue injuries may occur in many different situations, from a slip and fall while shopping to carpel tunnel syndrome developed after years of typing during the course of employment. The causes of such injuries are as diverse as the injuries themselves. Therefore, the responsible party may be an individual, multiple persons or a company/corporation and will depend on the specific facts of your case. Most often, the injured party will have a claim against the defendant (legally responsible party) for negligence. To establish a case for negligence, certain elements must be proven to the court. First, the plaintiff must show that the defendant had a legal duty to treat the plaintiff with a standard of care; the standard of care may be that of a reasonable person under similar circumstances or an industry standard. Next, the defendant must have breached this standard of care by his or her actions or failure to act. Third, the defendant’s breach must have caused the plaintiff’s injury, or created the situation that caused the plaintiff’s injury. Last, the plaintiff must have suffered an actual injury, which may be legally compensated by monetary damages.
Compensation for Your Soft Tissue Injuries
After the plaintiff’s case for negligence has been established, the court may determine damages. The type and amount of damages may depend on the losses suffered, the applicable law in the state and the jurisdiction of the court. The court may consider many factors when deciding the amount of compensatory damages, such as the severity and extent of the injuries, costs of medical care, costs of future medical treatment, lost wages, future loss of earning capacity, loss of household contribution, pain and suffering, emotional anguish and others depending on the facts of the case.
In some jurisdictions, the judge or jury may also award the plaintiff punitive damages. Punitive damages are awarded in addition to compensatory damages, and are intended to punish the defendant for his or her actions and curb future behavior by the defendant or others, as a deterrent. The amount and availability of these damages differs depending on the state you are in and the circumstances of your case. Speak to an attorney to learn more about punitive damages in your area.