Going through a personal injury can be very stressful, from dealing with your immediate medical needs, paying your bills, losing time and wages at work, dealing with insurance companies, and handling any long-term effects of the injury. There is much more to a personal injury than just meeting your medical needs. Frequently, offers from insurance companies don’t consider other types of damages. They want a quick settlement, paying as little as possible.
Suffering a personal injury does not mean you automatically have a personal injury claim.
The lawyers at Trent LawFirm have determined some crucial signs that will help to tell you if you have a personal injury claim.
Someone Else’s Negligence
Negligence is a critical factor in personal injury law. Cornell Law School’s Legal Information Institute (LII) defines negligence as “a failure to behave with the level of care that someone of ordinary prudence would have exercised under the same circumstances. The behavior usually consists of actions, but can also consist of omissions when there is some duty to act.”
A prima facie case, or a case that is sufficient to establish a fact or raise a presumption unless disproved or rebutted, must be established for a claim to be made.
The Key Elements of Negligence
According to Trent Law, four elements are required to establish a prima facie case of negligence.
1. Duty of Care
For negligence to occur, one person must bear the responsibility of preventing harm to another. The plaintiff’s side must prove that the defendant had an obligation to protect and avoid injury to another.
2. Breach of Duty
The injured person must attest precisely how the other party failed to meet that duty. There must be at the very least a causal connection between the injured and the other party.
3. An Injury Occurred
There has to be an actual injury in the form of bodily harm or property damage for there to be negligence. The plaintiff must show that there were economic and non-economic damages.
4. Proximate Cause
The injured person must be able to directly link their injury to the actions or inactions of someone who had a duty of care to them.
Evidence is Important
Without evidence, there is no case, and you can’t prove that another person’s negligence caused your injury. Evidence is anything legally submitted in a court or other decision-making body to authenticate the truth of a matter. There are two types of evidence in a personal injury case, physical and non-physical evidence.
Physical evidence should be able to be seen and understood by a jury. Physical damages include injuries to your body, like bruises, cuts, and broken bones. They can also include damage done to property, for example, a wrecked car or torn clothing.
You will present evidence either in person or through photographs and video to prove physical damage. In the case of premises liability, it is beneficial to have proof of what caused the accident, for example, a wet floor or faulty sidewalk.
Non-physical evidence can add value to the physical evidence in establishing your personal injury case. Non-physical evidence is factual information or testimony presented to the jury.
- Eyewitness Testimony: A person who can attest to and confirm what happened at a scene because they were there.
- Expert witnesses Testimony: Professionals with knowledge or experience in a particular field or discipline who can provide an impartial expert opinion on the situation over information or a piece of evidence.
- Medical records: Detailed records of injuries, including doctor’s notes, X-rays, surgical records, or lab test results.
- Medical bills: They help to demonstrate and determine the financial impact that the injuries have caused, for example, hospital stays, surgeries, medication, or treatments.
- Police reports: Police reports can serve as factual and unbiased information.
- Depositions: A deposition is a witness’s sworn, out-of-court testimony.
Within the Statute of Limitations
All legal cases, except for murder, have a time limit in which they can be filed. It doesn’t matter if it is a civil or criminal case. Time limits vary from state to state. In Illinois, the statute of limitations for a personal injury case is two years from the date of the accident. You can check the statute of limitations in your state in this table.
There are mistakes that someone suffering from a personal injury may make that will hurt their claim. A common mistake is not seeking immediate medical attention following an accident. After an accident, your adrenaline is pumping, and you may not immediately feel an injury. Not seeking immediate medical attention after the accident might give the impression that the injury was not very severe or didn’t affect the victim.
In the era of social media, sharing with your friends and close ones what just happened to you might seem tempting; however, this is something that can impact your claim. What you post can be used against you. In your efforts to share with your friend that everything is ok, you could be telling an arbitrator, judge, or jury that the accident was not as big of a deal as your claim makes it out to be.
A common mistake made by accident victims is making official statements without advice from a personal injury attorney. The opposing side can use these statements to limit their liability for your injury.
Another error is not following the advice of medical professionals by ignoring their treatment recommendations, not taking prescribed medications, or not following precautions to prevent further injury.
Talk to an Attorney
The best way to determine if you have a viable personal injury case is to talk to an attorney who specializes in handling these types of claims. Some personal injury attorneys specialize in specific types of cases like medical malpractice or automobile accidents. In contrast, others may handle a broad range of personal injury cases, including wrongful death and premise or property liability. Another specialty area is attorneys who take on clients suffering from a traumatic brain injury (TBI).
Summing It Up
Contacting a personal injury attorney is the best way to determine if you have a personal injury claim. They can help you through the complicated process and get you the results you deserve.