A personal injury lawsuit is one of the ways in which someone who has been injured–due to the negligence of another–can get the compensation they need to take care of any expenses caused by that accident. Those expenses include medical bills, repair bills for damaged property, and compensation for lost wages due to being unable to work while recovering.
A personal injury attorney is of vital importance when filing personal injury lawsuits. That is because they can help to calculate how much compensation you will need and they can negotiate with the insurance company of the guilty party on your behalf. That means contacting a lawyer should be one of the first steps you take after you have suffered a personal injury.
The Elements of a Personal Injury Case
Before you file a personal injury case, you need to make sure that your case is valid. For a personal injury case to be legitimate, it needs to have the following elements:
- The party that caused the personal injury owed the victim a duty of care. What this means is that the guilty party was obliged to act in a responsible and reasonable manner towards the victim. For example, a driver owes a duty of care to other drivers and pedestrians by following the rules of the road and being attentive at all times. A store owner should make sure that their premises are safe for all visitors. A duty of care means acting in a way that shows consideration to the safety and wellbeing of others.
- The duty of care was breached. This means that the guilty party failed to uphold their part of the social contract to act in a reasonable manner; in other words, they were being negligent. So that means the store owner could leave a dangerous spill untended or that a motorist could be texting while driving.
- The breach of duty led to a personal injury. It is not enough that the perpetrator violated their duty of care, that violation needs to have directly caused injury to another. So someone could have slipped and hurt themselves because of the untended spill, or the distracted motorist could have collided with another vehicle.
- The victim suffered significant losses because of their personal injury. Those losses can be financial, such as the victim having to endure huge medical bills or being unable to work because their injuries prevent them from doing so. Those losses could be emotional or psychological as well, such as the pain and suffering experienced because of the injury.
The key aspect of any personal injury case is negligence. The perpetrator should have acted in a responsible way but they exhibited negligent behavior instead and that negligence caused injuries to another.
Personal Injury Lawsuits
Once a personal injury lawsuit has been deemed to be valid, the victim can then file a lawsuit against the guilty party, but it may not necessarily come to that. Once your personal injury attorney is on board, they will begin gathering material that is important to your case. They will get your medical bills, repair bills, and other expenses to calculate the amount of compensation that you need. They will also gather evidence like witness testimony and police reports to bolster your case.
Once that part is done, your attorney will send a demand letter to the other party, or more specifically, to their insurance company. If the insurance company accepts the demand, then the case ends here and you get your settlement. However, in many cases, the insurance company will try to negotiate a lower settlement amount. If that amount is too low or if the insurance company rejects your settlement demand outright, then you can file a personal injury lawsuit.
However, the case may not necessarily go to trial since both parties will be encouraged to enter mediation first. This is where the involved parties try to negotiate a deal with a neutral third party overseeing the negotiation. If mediation is unsuccessful, then the case goes to trial. It is worth pointing out that few personal injury cases ever go to trial because trials are expensive, time-consuming, and unpredictable, so it may not be worth the effort to the insurance company. So there is a very good chance that you can get the compensation you need without having to set foot in a courtroom.
Consult a Personal Injury Attorney Before You File a Lawsuit
You should always consult an attorney before filing a personal injury lawsuit because they will give you the best chance of success. In fact, you may not even need to file a lawsuit if a personal injury attorney is involved in your case because they can negotiate a settlement before that becomes necessary.
However, if a personal injury lawsuit does become necessary, then you will need an experienced attorney to oversee the proceedings. A personal injury lawsuit can get complicated in a hurry, which is why you need the steady hand of a personal injury lawyer to guide you through the process and give you the best chance of a successful outcome.