Harry Potter Meets Personal Injury Law
May 25, 2017
Running Hogwarts and trying to control hundreds of wizard students is no easy task. It is easy to see why Dumbledore had so much white hair. In addition to the usual risks of running a school, the administration also has to worry about spells gone wrong, errant unicorns, magical creatures and the trip-and-fall risks associated with moving stairs.
Personal injury law, whether in the wizarding world or in the Muggle world of Pennsylvania, centers around proving injury, establishing liability and properly filing a claim. While the incidents leading to a personal injury claim may be more fantastical in the world of wizards, and while each personal injury claim is unique, many claims have common elements.
KBG Injury Law has been serving the Muggle Pennsylvania population for more than 30 years. If you think you may have a personal injury claim, contact our offices for a free consultation.
Sources of Personal Injury Law Claims in the Harry Potter World
There are multiple sources of severe injury in the Harry Potter universe:
- Quidditch games can result in head injuries and sport injuries, including mid-air crashes and broomstick accidents.
- Flying cars can result in auto accidents. The Ford Anglia modified by Arthur Weasley, for example, was able to fly and also had an Invisibility Booster, increasing the odds of a collision due to invisibility. The car was further enhanced to fit two owls, eight people, six pieces of luggage and a rat, an overcrowding situation which could lead to a crash.
- Gnomes can cause bites, leading to premises liability claims.
- The Tri-Wizard Tournament can lead to sports injuries, drowning and other injuries.
- Mishaps during Defense Against the Dark Arts class can lead to a variety of personal injuries, including head injuries and fractures.
- The Whomping Willow can lift wizards and Muggles, dropping them from a height or throwing them, causing spinal cord injuries and other possible injuries.
- Visits to the Forbidden Forest can lead to magical animal attacks and resulting injuries.
- Voldemort commits a number of wrongful acts, leading to fatalities.
In addition to these possible injuries in the wizarding world, the Muggle world is full of the more recognizable types of accidents, including truck accidents and pedestrian crashes.
While being hit with a flying car may seem fantastical, the process of pursuing justice in these cases is similar to that of pursuing a claim for an auto accident on any road. You need to be able to prove your injury, determine liability and file a claim correctly.
What Wizards and Muggles Need to Do After an Injury
If an injury has occurred, it is important to take steps to protect yourself and your potential case. You will want to take the following steps.
Take Care of Your Health
If there is any chance of head trauma or any serious injury, get emergency medical attention. Even if you are not sure you have been injured, it is wise to get medical attention. Some significant injuries may not present symptoms at once, and waiting to see a medical professional can result in complications. In the Harry Potter universe, magic can instantly take care of even serious injuries, but in the Muggle world, medical attention and even ongoing treatment may be needed for injuries.
Gather Evidence of Your Injuries
Take photos of the broken tree branch in the Forbidden Forest or the mall parking lot where you were injured. Take photos of your injuries. In the wizarding world, plaintiffs may be able to rely on magic spells to accurately capture the details of an incident, but in the Muggle world, you will need to rely on current recording and camera equipment. Where possible, take multiple pictures of the incident scene, your injuries and other relevant images from multiple angles to capture as much detail as possible.
Get Contact Information
Gather the contact information of any witnesses who have seen your accident or who may have seen anything pertinent. If Voldemort tripped you, make sure you get the contact information of anyone who saw the incident. Contact the witnesses to ensure you have accurate contact information.
Write It Down
Start writing down everything related to your injuries. Write down the time, date and exact location of your injury or accident as soon as you can. Write down everything you remember about the incident leading to your injury, including anything which occurred immediately before the incident and anything which occurred during and after the incident. Even small details can be important.
Write down anything you have stated to anyone else involved in the incident. If you are in a flying car accident with another wizard, note any details about the conversation you had.
Keep a running list of doctor’s appointments and expenses. Keep receipts and any documentation of the treatment you receive and any expenses you incur as a result of your injury. If you have to pay for medication or need a taxi to visit a doctor, keep the receipts. If you lose time at work, note exactly how much time you lose and the wage losses you experience.
Maintain Your Finances
Since claims can take months or years to resolve, work with a budget and focus on maintaining your credit limit. If you are facing financial distress because of your injury, contact a personal injury attorney at KBG Injury Law to determine what steps you can take to protect your finances.
Consider Your Future
Some plaintiffs decide not to file a claim because they underestimate the total long-term costs of their injury. Once you consider follow-up care, time lost at work and other expenses, your costs may be much higher than you imagined. Work with a personal injury attorney at KBG Injury Law to determine how much your case may be worth.
If you plan on filing a lawsuit against anyone, give them notice of your intention. Note that this does not oblige you to file a claim.
Contact a personal injury attorney at KBG Injury Law to discuss your legal options. If you were working at Hogwarts and your injury occurred in the line of duty, you may have a workers’ compensation claim. In other circumstances, you may have a civil claim. The experienced attorneys at KBG Injury Law have experience in multiple practice areas, including insurance, workers’ compensation cases, personal injury claims, disability claims and other practice areas, so you can get the support you deserve.
What You Need to Keep in Mind After Your Injury
Anyone who has been injured in the Harry Potter world needs to keep statutes of limitation in mind. In Pennsylvania, the statute of limitations for a civil claim resulting from an injury to a person is two years. In other communities and in the Harry Potter community, the statute of limitations may vary. Failure to file a claim within the period allotted can mean a civil claim cannot be pursued.
It is always best to consult with a personal injury attorney if you have been injured. If your injury damages are above $8,000 in Pennsylvania — $10,000 in Philadelphia — your injury exceeds small claims court limits, and you will want to consult with an attorney. The legal team at KBG Injury Law, will initially meet with potential clients at no cost to review the potential claim.
If during the consultation the attorney and potential plaintiff reach the conclusion there may be a case, the attorney may decide on an exploratory investigation to determine the viability of the claim. If the case does appear viable, the attorney will become the plaintiff’s legal representative and will enter into a fee agreement with him or her. Anything shared by the plaintiff with the attorney will remain confidential.
In some cases, an attorney will refer a plaintiff to another professional. In other cases, an attorney may decide not to take on a plaintiff’s case, even if the case is viable. In these cases, the plaintiff may choose to seek representation with another attorney or law firm.
Once the plaintiff has an attorney, the attorney will file a complaint, outlining the general claims of the case and naming the defendant. Once the complaint is filed, the attorney has one month to serve the defendants in the case. Service involves a process of physically delivering court documents in a way that is documented. This proves the defendant is aware of the complaint and has a chance to respond. The papers served to the defendant outline the first court date and how to respond to the complaint.
If the defendant has insurance, he or she must inform their insurance company of the lawsuit. The insurer can hire an attorney to defend the case or the defendant may hire their own defense.
During the pre-trial phase, a process known as “discovery” allows both parties to ask the other side for information about witnesses and evidence. Both sides can also schedule depositions, or sworn examinations of witnesses and parties in the claim. Both sides will also appear before a court to determine arbitration or meditation, to tell the judge how the case is moving forward and to set a date for the trial. The pre-trial phase can take months or years.
Once the pre-trial phase is complete, the defendant can seek to have the case thrown out of court because, they argue, the plaintiff cannot prove their case. These motions for “summary judgements” are usually lost.
At any point, both parties may settle and avoid trial entirely. If the case moves forward, however, a jury will need to be selected, motions will be made to establish what evidence will be presented, settlement conferences will be undertaken by both sides and all parties will move closer to the trial process.
If no settlement is reached and the claim goes to trial, the personal injury trial can last a few days. Before the courts, the jury or the judge will determine liability and any damages awarded. Either part in the trial can start an appeals process. This can last for months or years. Once the appeals process has been concluded, the defendant who loses will be ordered to pay any damages awarded to the other party.
Making a Claim Against the Ministry of Magic or Other Government Entity
Making a claim against the Ministry of Magic or any government agency, government or employee of a government is different than making a personal injury claim against an individual or a business. In the wizarding world, you may need to appear before the Wizengamot court if you have a claim because Dementors working for the government have caused undue injury to your person.
In Pennsylvania, if you have a claim against the government, your claim is affected by Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes Title 42, Section 8522. This rule establishes the Sovereign Immunity Act for Pennsylvania, which allows the government to only be sued in specific circumstances outlined in the Act. Under the Sovereign Immunity Act, you can sue the government or government entities if your personal injury was caused by a “negligent act” and the circumstances are such that you would be able to secure damages if the same circumstances had occurred with a private party.
The Sovereign Immunity Act also outlines situations where a government entity is not responsible in Pennsylvania. For example, plaintiffs may pursue a claim if a government employee or agency moved, controlled or stored an animal or property in a negligent manner. However, radioactive materials is exempt from this rule. Even if negligence can be proven, the government is not held responsible if someone is injured due to the government’s negligent handling or storage of any radioactive materials.
To file a personal injury lawsuit against the government, Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes section 5522 stipulates that the injured party must sent a notice of the claim, in writing, to the specific government agency named in the lawsuit. If the claim is against the state of Pennsylvania, the written notice must be sent to the Attorney General. The notice must be sent within six months of the incident leading to the injuries and must contain specific information about the claim, including details of when and where the incident took place and the contact information for the claimant and their attending doctor.
In addition to these limits, there is a limit to amount of damages that can be recovered from the government. For one incident and one claimant, liability of the government is no more than $250,000 and no more than $1 million for any one incident in total.
What Muggles Need to Know About Pennsylvania Personal Injury Law
Even if you have never received your letter indicating you belong to the wizarding world, you still need to be aware of Pennsylvania personal injury law. If your injuries are caused by non-magical incidents, such as auto accidents, pedestrian crashes, workplace accidents and other common causes of injury, you will want to speak with a personal injury attorney at KBG Injury Law to review your case.
KBG Injury Law works extensively with Muggle plaintiffs and works with a large network of professionals to build strong cases. The legal team understands there is no magic available for serious auto accident injuries and other serious injuries. Our team treats all clients with respect and dignity and works hard to get plaintiffs the results they deserve. If you need legal advice or representation after a serious injury, contact KBG Injury Law for a free consultation.