Many of the lawsuits filed in the United States are based on accidents and conduct that resulted in injury. These lawsuits are personal injury claims that seek compensation for the injuries that victims sustain. Before pursuing a legal claim of this nature, it is helpful for victims to have a thorough understanding of these claims.
An Injury Does Not Equate to an Actionable Claim
Simply because a person sustained an injury does not mean that there is an actionable claim. In order to recover in a personal injury claim, there must be legal grounds that hold the defendant accountable. The most common legal theory involved in personal injury claims is negligence. This requires showing that the defendant owed a duty to the victim. For example, if the victim was a customer in the store, the store owner has the duty to maintain a safe premises. The victim must also demonstrate through his or her lawyer that the defendant breached this legal duty. For example, he may have failed to take proper precautions to ensure a safe environment. The victim must also show that she suffered injuries that was caused by the defendant’s breach of duty.
There are other legal theories that may be used, including strict liability or intentional torts. For whatever legal theory that is asserted, the plaintiff has the burden of proof to show that all of the necessary elements in the claim have been substantiated before recovery is possible.
There Are Many Different Types of Personal Injury Cases
When people hear the term “personal injury,” they often think this is the same as pursuing car accident claims. While car accidents are one type of personal injury case, there are many others, including injuries that result from medical malpractice, premises liability, animal attacks, assault, battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress and any other case in which a person suffers harm due to the negligence of another individual or entity.
Personal Injury Cases Often Involve Insurance Companies
Many personal injury cases involve insurance companies, including cases that involve automotive accidents, medical malpractice and accidents that occur in businesses or private homes. The insurance company is vested in protecting the financial interests of the insurance company. The settlement offer that insurance companies make may not always be fair since they are attempting to limit the financial exposure of the insurance company.
Most Personal Injury Claims Settle
Due to the nature of personal injury cases and the flooded court system, many personal injury cases settle outside of court. This means that a judge or jury does not decide the outcome. Instead, the victim’s personal injury lawyer negotiates a monetary settlement with the insurance company or defendant. The victim gets to decide whether or not to accept a proposed settlement. Sometimes settlement occurs after mediation, a collaborative process that involves the participation of the parties to a legal dispute. If a settlement is not accepted, the case may go to trial.
A Claim May Be Pursued Even if the Victim Is Partially At Fault
Many states follow a comparative negligence model which allows a victim to pursue a personal injury lawsuit even if he or she was partially at fault for the accident. In these states, the victim’s recovery may be reduced by the amount of fault that he or she contributed to the accident. For example, if the victim suffered damages of $200,000 and is found to be 10 percent at fault, his or her maximum recovery would be $180,000 since he or she was responsible for $20,000 of the damages.
Personal injury cases are often complicated in nature. When retaining a personal injury lawyer, victims may interview multiple lawyers to determine who will best represent his or her interests. Personal injury victims often suffer extensive damages, so it is important that the personal injury lawyer have adequate experience to help pursue the claim and the maximum compensation available. Personal injury victims can ask about the experience that the lawyer has with handling personal injury claims.
The Victim May Have Limited Time to Pursue a Case
Due to a state’s statute of limitations, the victim may have only a limited amount of time to bring forth a personal injury claim. Once the statute of limitations is expired, a claim can be forever barred. Many states have a three-year statute of limitations for personal injury claims, but this may be shorter or longer depending on state laws and the identity of the defendant.
Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer. For specific technical or legal advice on the information provided and related topics, please contact the author.
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