Suffering from a severe injury can tear your life apart. The physical pain, mental anguish and emotional upheaval can take their toll. An injury can leave you out of work and facing mounting medical expenses. These circumstances are even harder to swallow when your injury was caused by someone else.
Personal injury lawsuits serve an important purpose in our civil justice system. They provide a person injured by the conduct of another a path to a legal remedy to be “made whole.” The system is designed to hold people accountable for their conduct and compensate any victims.
Here are seven things you should know about personal injury lawsuits:
1. There are many scenarios that give rise to personal injury claims.
Some common types of personal injury cases are:
- Motor vehicle accidents
- Slip and falls
- Unsafe premises
- Medical malpractice
- Defective products
- Birth injuries
- Pharmaceutical litigation
- Wrongful death
2. There are many types of compensation available.
Depending on how the injuries occurred, there are several types of compensation that may be available to the victim. These include compensation for:
- Physical pain
- Mental anguish
- Scarring and disfigurement
- Physical impairment and disability
- Medical bills
- Lost wages or lost earning capacity
- Losses based upon your relationships (loss of consortium)
- Decreased enjoyment of life
- Punitive damages
- Funeral and burial expenses
3. There are four necessary elements you need to prove for most personal injury claims.
The strength of your case and your right to recover appropriate compensation depends on proving the essential elements of a personal injury claim. Most personal injury lawsuits are based on a negligence theory. To prevail, the plaintiff needs to establish four required elements—duty, breach of duty, causation and damages.
- Duty: The defendant had a duty to act reasonably to avoid harm to others.
- Breach: The defendant breached this duty by acting negligently, carelessly, recklessly or in a way that deviates from what other reasonable people would do in the same situation.
- Causation: That breach of duty directly caused the injury.
- Damages: The incident caused the victim to sustain physical and emotional injuries, property damage or lost income.
The elements of a product liability claim over a defective product are a little different. Those case rely on a so-called “strict liability” theory that focuses on the product rather than the conduct of the manufacturer. Under strict liability, a manufacturer is liable if the product is defective, even if the manufacturer was not negligent in producing the defective product. However, you still need to need to prove causation and damages.
4. You should take several important steps following an injury.
It is critical that you immediately collect as much evidence as you can to support your case. Gather any medical bills, hospital records, police reports, photographs of the accident scene and any other documentation. Make a list of all potential witnesses, including others involved in the incident and those who can speak to the effects of the incident.
It is also crucial that you do not speak to representative of the potential defendant or their insurance company. You should always consult an attorney first to ensure your rights are protected.
5. You should get representation.
A personal injury attorney will explain your rights, advise you about the next steps to take, gather the necessary evidence, communicate with potential witnesses, negotiate with insurance companies and opposing counsel and represent you in any court proceedings.
In addition, it takes solid evidence and credible testimony to establish the necessary elements for an injury claim. An experienced attorney with a solid grasp of the law can help build your case, ensure you establish each element necessary to prove your claim and maximize the recovery in your case.
The defendant will most likely have an insurance company and experience counsel providing representation. If you are unrepresented, you would be at a severe disadvantage. Get representation to even the playing field.
6. You can afford an attorney because of the contingent fee agreement.
Personal injury lawyers do not charge hourly rates for their work. Instead, they handle cases on a contingent fee basis. Under a contingent fee agreement, a client in a civil matter does not need to pay an attorney unless the case is successful. Often, attorneys will also front all litigation costs. Thus, the client does not have to pay anything out of their pocket. All fees and costs are paid out of the recovery.
The contingent fee also ensures that the lawyer’s interests are fundamentally linked to those of the client. It incentivizes lawyers to provide the best quality service to clients because if they fail, they will not get paid.
7. We can help.
If you are injured by the actions of another party, you deserve to be compensated. We can help you get the representation you need. We work with a large network of attorneys who handle a variety of legal matters. We can refer you to an experienced personal injury attorney.
Time is of the essence. There are strict deadlines for bringing personal injury lawsuits. The sooner you speak with an injury lawyer, the more power you’ll have to protect your rights and assets.
Please fill out the contact form below on this page to begin your free consultation.