Do I have a personal injury case? That is the question we will address in this article. Being injured in an accident can be an instantaneous life-altering event, especially if the accident was not your fault. Any number of events, like a car accident, injuries at a place of business, or being mistreated, can leave you wondering if you have a legitimate claim of negligence or even intentional harm. You may be able to mitigate your losses.
Do I have a personal injury case? You may, but let’s first look at…
What is considered a personal injury case?
According to the Legal Information Institute (LII) at Cornell Law School, “Personal injuries include every variety of injury to a person’s body, emotions, or reputation.” Personal injury law or tort law revolves around the idea that if you or your property are injured or damaged because of another person’s actions or failure to take action, you have the right to compensation. Personal injury law covers a vast array of incidents; it is designed to provide financial restitution for individuals who receive injuries due to another person’s negligent act or failure to act.
Negligence is a critical factor in whether or not there is legitimate reasons to file a personal injury claim. The LII defines negligence as the omission to do something which a reasonable person, guided by those considerations which ordinarily regulate the conduct of human affairs, would do.
Strict liability can be another factor when considering a personal injury case. Strict liability is when a person is responsible for causing harm to someone, despite their intent or mental state. It includes owning dangerous animals, participating in hazardous activities, defective products, and attractive nuisances. An attractive nuisance is the existence of a dangerous circumstance on a landowner’s property that may attract children and put their safety at risk.
The committing of an intentional tort, like assault or battery, is an additional reason for pursuing a personal injury case.
How do I know if I have a personal injury claim?
Do I have a personal injury case? Before answering that question, we should consider the essential factors that play a role in the determination to pursue a personal injury claim. The first is identifying the party responsible for the injury, such as the other driver in a car accident or the manufacturer of a defective product.
Next, we need to determine if the injured party can provide evidence and justification that their injuries were a result of another person’s violation of a duty owed to them. While every personal injury case is different based on the context and circumstances of the specific situation if an individual can demonstrate that the negligent actions of another person caused them harm, there may be a personal injury claim worth pursuing.
What are the three basic requirements for a personal injury claim?
Those based on the theory of negligence are the most common types of personal injury claims. Do I have a personal injury case? To answer yes, you must be able to substantiate three primary assertions.
- The defendant owed the plaintiff a duty of care. A duty of care, generally speaking, is a legal obligation imposed on someone which requires them to act within a reasonable standard of care. For example, the driver of a vehicle owes a duty of care to all other drivers on the roadway to operate their vehicle safely and reasonably following all relevant traffic regulations to avoid a car accident.
- The defendant violated a duty of care owed to the plaintiff. In the case of a car accident, it has already been established that every driver owes a duty to every other driver to avoid causing injury. This specific duty of care can be violated in multiple ways. For example, an individual who runs a red light and causes a car accident in the intersection could reasonably be determined to have violated their duty of care. Additionally, a driver who chooses to operate their vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol also demonstrates a negligent action.
- The plaintiff must prove that they suffered damages due to the defendant’s breach of the duty of care. The plaintiff must substantiate that they sustained injuries, incurred medical expenses, missed time at work and lost wages, or suffered another type of identifiable monetary damage due to the defendant’s action or inaction.
Determining whether the event in question forms the basis for a personal injury claim can be a confusing and challenging process, which is why it is important to consult with an experienced personal injury attorney, who can advise on the potential for making a personal injury claim and the likelihood of achieving a positive outcome with your case.
What are personal criminal injuries?
Do I have a personal injury claim? Yes, if another individual deliberately caused you harm, you may have a personal injury claim. A person can take intentional actions that result in an injury to another. These acts, such as assault and battery, may create civil and criminal implications for the perpetrator. Additionally, the outcome of a criminal case does not necessarily erase liability for the defendant in a civil lawsuit and vice versa. Personal injury claims are civil actions designed to assist victims of crimes in recovering monetary damages they may have incurred due to someone else’s actions.
Perhaps one of the most common examples of the intertwining of personal injury claims with criminal charges is a car accident caused by an intoxicated driver. In the United States, driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol is a criminal offense of varying severity depending on the state where the incident happened. A drunk driver who causes an accident and injures another driver may be held criminally liable for driving under the influence, but this does not absolve them or otherwise address the personal injury claim that the injured driver can choose to make against them. The courts see them as two separate issues.
Maybe, I do have a personal injury claim, but…!
Do all personal injury claims go to court?
After reading this far, you may be thinking that you have a personal injury claim but are concerned about the possibility of a long, drawn-out court case. You might be relieved to hear that many personal injury claims are settled before stepping foot inside a courtroom. Many personal injury lawsuits will reach a settlement well before going to trial.
When a personal injury case goes to trial, neither side can be sure that a jury will decide in their client’s favor. There is just no way for the attorneys to know how the jury will decide and what, if any, the amount of the award will be. The judgments may be much higher or lower than anticipated. The plaintiff may even owe the defendant money, in court costs and legal fees, should the case be ruled against them.
To avoid this uncertainty and the sometimes astronomical costs of going to trial, many attorneys will work to settle cases well before the trial stage to reach an amicable solution for all parties involved.
Even though most personal injury cases settle before trial, your choice in representation is still as crucial as ever. It is the job of defense attorneys to protect their clients from reputational and financial harm. They will seek to take advantage of a less experienced and untested plaintiff’s attorney. Hiring a tenacious, dedicated, and experienced personal injury attorney can help ensure that you maximize the value of any potential settlement offer.
Who pays for personal injury claims?
Who pays depends heavily on the case’s circumstances. In some personal injury claims, the defendant carries liability insurance to assist in defending against the claim and possibly pay damages should they be found responsible.
The type of insurance depends on the incident, and more than one insurance company may be involved. For example, most states require drivers to carry liability insurance if they are involved in an accident deemed their fault. Similarly, businesses carry property liability insurance for injuries on their premises. A defendant may not have the proper insurance that they should have or may be entirely uninsured; the law refers to these cases as either underinsured or uninsured claims.
Under or uninsured coverage can be included in a liability insurance policy. When a defendant does not have the insurance coverage or funds to cover the damages incurred by the plaintiff, the plaintiff may choose to seek a claim against their own insurance policy. A plaintiff could also attempt to sue the defendant directly to recover damages, but any judgment awarded may be difficult or even impossible to recover from a defendant with little to no available funds or assets.
Do I have a personal injury case?
For further information and help with answering that question, contact Trent Law Firm. It is best to consult with an experienced personal injury attorney before deciding if you have a case. The personal injury attorneys at Trent Law Firm in Chicago are determined to fight for the compensation you deserve so that you can focus on healing and recovery. If you think you may have a personal injury claim, contact us today at (866) 599-8601 to discuss your case and how our dedicated and experienced personal injury attorneys may be able to help.