FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT PERSONAL INJURY CASES
What is a Personal Injury Case?
It is not possible to list every type of scenario which may give rise to a personal injury claim. However, most commonly, personal injury cases arise from car accidents, slip/trip and fall injuries, motorcycle accidents, and also from work injuries. Basically, a simple way to know whether there is a possible personal injury claim is look for whether someone was harmed or injured by the fault of another person or entity. You will need to discuss your situation with a personal injury lawyer to assess whether you have a viable personal injury case.
What is Negligence?
A fundamental principal of American jurisprudence is that all people and entities are expected to act with "reasonable care". In other words, people and/or companies cannot act so carelessly or “negligently” that they expose others to undue risk of harm. The specifics of what constitutes reasonable care vary somewhat from state to state and also from situation to situation. The basic purpose of the law is to encourage the formation of a safer society where all people and companies are acting in a careful and prudent manner, so that all people in society have a safer place to live their lives in.
When someone fails to act with the “reasonable care” required by a given circumstance, that may be considered negligence. In order to recover for most personal injuries, you and your personal attorney will have to prove that another person or a business was negligent, and that the negligence caused your personal injuries.
Do I have a Personal Injury Case?
You will need to speak with a personal injury lawyer to discuss the detailed facts of your case and the attorney will advise you as to whether you have a viable personal injury case or not. In order to have a viable personal injury case, the injured party has the burden to proving that the other party owed the injured party a “duty of care”, that the conduct of the other party was negligent such that it “breached” its duty of care, that the “breach” or “negligence” was the actual and proximate cause of the injures or damages suffered by the injured party. And finally and perhaps most importantly to your case, you will need to prove that you have been “damaged” or “injured”. These “elements” form the basis of a typical personal injury case and each element must be proved with evidence.
Even if you have a valid claim, your personal injury attorney will have to investigate whether or not you would be able to collect on your claim. Unfortunately, sometimes the party that causes injury to another has no money, insurance or assets that can be sought to compensate the injured party. In such a situation, if the other party does not have insurance and does not have other assets that could be used to compensate you, then it may be that you have a valid claim but will be unable to collect compensation for it.
What is the value of my personal injury case?
There are a number of factors that go into “valuing” the case. One of the major factors that goes into putting a value on your case are your medical bills. Also, lost income because you were not able to work or run your business is important in assessing the value of your case. Property damage and other financial harm is factored into the damages. Finally, and often most importantly, your pain and suffering that resulted from the accident is a component in estimating the value of your case.
Even when these factors are considered, there be major variations in the value of a personal injury claim based on the amount of insurance involved or the assets of the defendant, any partial fault on the part of the injured person, the victim's willingness/ability to invest a long period of time in litigating the claim versus the need for a relatively quick settlement, and more.
Putting a value on your case is not an exact science. It is not possible for your attorney to give you an exact or definite “value” of your case to you at the outset of the case. This is especially true because you may not even have completed your medical treatment when you first meet your personal injury lawyer. However, a good personal injury lawyer can weigh the various factors to give you an overall picture of the strengths and weaknesses of your case.
What Should I Do if I'm Hurt in an Accident?
Get medical attention. Keep tract of each and every medical provider that you get treatment from. File a police report.
As soon as you are able to, you should write down your recollections of how the accident happened and all related information about the accident. If you can take photographs of your injuries, the damage to your vehicle or property or the scene of the accident, then you should take the photographs.
You should retain an attorney as soon as possible so that you can focus on your health, and let the attorney take care of dealing with the other party or their insurance. You should not deal with the other parties’ insurance company on your own. Their insurance company is not concerned with your best interests. In fact, they may try to deny your claim altogether by claiming that the accident was your own fault, or that you did not suffer any injuries. The insurance company’s claims adjusters handle claims all day long and are extremely well trained to try to minimize or outright deny your claim. They are not on your side.
Will my case go to trial?
Very few personal injury cases go to trial. Most cases can be settled prior to trial, and many cases can be settled even before filing a lawsuit.