If you or your loved one has been injured in an accident that wasn’t your fault, you may be eligible for compensation.
Personal injury cases can be complex, but with the right legal guidance and representation, you can win a settlement that helps cover your injuries in addition to other damages and losses.
This comprehensive guide will walk you through the personal injury process, from filing a claim to receiving compensation. We’ll cover everything you need to know about personal injury cases, so read on for more information.
Table of Contents
- What Is a Personal Injury Claim?
- What Are the Common Types of Personal Injury Cases?
- What Are the Key Elements of Negligence in a Personal Injury Case?
- What Are Some Common Injuries in Personal Injury Cases?
- What Damages Can I Seek in a Personal Injury Claim?
- What Is the Potential Settlement Amount in a Personal Injury Claim?
- How Can I Maximize the Value of My Personal Injury Claim?
- What Are Some Common Defenses to Personal Injury Claims?
- Can I Sue for Emotional Distress?
- Will My Personal Injury Case Go to Trial?
- Final Thought
What Is a Personal Injury Claim?
A personal injury claim is basically a legal way to seek compensation for an injury or damages caused by someone else’s negligence or wrongful action.
In other words, the plaintiff claims they sustained an injury (mental, physical, or both) due to an act of carelessness or wrongdoing by another person, business, government agency, or any entity.
The basis of a personal injury claim is that the negligent party should have reasonably known their actions could cause harm and failed to take proper precautions.
For example, if you were in a car accident caused by a drunk driver, you could file a personal injury claim against them.
What Are the Common Types of Personal Injury Cases?
There are many different types of personal injury cases, but some of the most common include:
- Car accidents
- Truck accidents
- Motorcycle accidents
- Bicycle accidents
- Slip and fall accidents
- Dog bite attacks
- Product liability
- Medical malpractice
- Workplace accidents
Each case has its own unique set of circumstances and determining factors, but some general principles apply to each type.
What Are the Key Elements of Negligence in a Personal Injury Case?
Proving that someone else is responsible for your losses means showing that they acted negligently. There are four key elements to negligence: duty, breach of duty, causation, and damages.
The defendant must have owed the plaintiff a duty of care. This means they had a responsibility to take reasonable precautions to prevent reasonably foreseeable injuries.
For example, all drivers have a duty to operate their vehicles safely and obey traffic laws. If they break this duty and cause an accident, they may be found negligent.
2. Breach of Duty
The defendant must have breached their duty of care by failing to take reasonable precautions or taking actions that increased the plaintiff’s risk of injury. For example, a driver who runs a red light has breached their duty of care.
The defendant’s negligence must have caused the plaintiff’s injuries. For example, if a driver hits a pedestrian because they were distracted by their phone, but their distraction didn’t actually cause the accident, it wouldn’t be considered negligent.
Finally, the plaintiff must demonstrate that they suffered actual damages as a result of the defendant’s negligence. These damages can be physical, emotional, or both.
For example, if a driver hits a pedestrian and the pedestrian suffers broken bones and severe emotional trauma, they would have suffered damages that could be compensated by a personal injury claim.
What Are Some Common Injuries in Personal Injury Cases?
Many different types of injuries can be caused by negligence. Some common examples include brain injuries, broken bones, and whiplash.
a) Brain Injuries
These range from concussions to traumatic brain injuries and can have lifelong effects on the victim’s health and wellbeing.
b) Broken Bones
Even a seemingly minor break can cause significant pain and require extended recovery time.
This is a neck injury caused by sudden, violent head movement and can lead to chronic pain and stiffness.
These are just a few examples of common injuries in personal injury cases. If you’ve been injured due to someone else’s negligence, it’s important to seek legal advice and explore your options for compensation.
What Damages Can I Seek in a Personal Injury Claim?
There are two types of damages you can seek in a personal injury claim: economic and non-economic.
Economic damages are quantifiable financial losses, such as medical bills, lost wages, and property damage.
Calculating economic damages requires gathering detailed documentation of your losses, such as bills and proof of income, but the process is relatively straightforward.
Non-economic damages are more subjective and may include emotional trauma, pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, and more.
Determining the value of non-economic damages can be complex and will depend on several factors specific to your situation.
Typically, non-economic damages are calculated as a multiple of your economic damages, with the multiplier depending on the severity of your injuries.
For example, if you have suffered severe injuries that will cause long-term pain and suffering, you may be awarded a higher multiplier than someone who has only suffered minor injuries.
In some cases, the court may award punitive damages meant to punish the defendant for egregious misconduct and deter similar behavior in the future.
Regardless of the type of damages you may be seeking; it’s important to work with an experienced personal injury lawyer who can help you build a strong case and advocate for fair compensation on your behalf.
What Is the Potential Settlement Amount in a Personal Injury Claim?
The amount of your settlement will depend on several factors, including the severity of your injuries, the extent of your economic damages, the strength of your case, and more.
In general, the greater the damages you have suffered, the higher the potential settlement. However, even if you have suffered relatively minor injuries, it’s still important to seek legal advice and explore your options for compensation.
It’s also important to remember that insurance companies may try to lowball your settlement offer, so it is essential to have an experienced personal injury attorney on your side who can help ensure you receive the full amount you deserve.
How Can I Maximize the Value of My Personal Injury Claim?
Winning a personal injury claim and receiving fair compensation for your damages requires building a strong case and presenting it effectively. Some key steps to maximizing the value of your personal injury claim include:
1. Preserve Evidence on the Spot
Your first step to getting maximum compensation for your personal injuries starts at the accident scene. You must do everything possible to preserve as much evidence as possible.
If you have been involved in a car accident, this can include noting down the vehicle registration number of the at-fault driver, taking clear photos of the accident scene, and gathering eyewitnesses’ contact information.
If your injuries are so severe that you cannot preserve evidence, be sure to seek help from the people around you. Typically, the more evidence you have, the stronger your case.
2. Seek Medical Treatment
The faster you seek medical attention after an accident, the better. Not only will this improve your health and wellbeing, but it will also create a clear link between your injuries and the accident itself.
This is important because if you wait too long to seek treatment, the other side may argue that your injuries are not as serious as you claim them to be, or were caused by something else.
3. Stay Off Social Media
One of the biggest mistakes you can make when pursuing a personal injury claim is posting about your accident or injuries on social media.
Anything you post on social media, even if it is private, can be used against you by the other side. For example, posting photos of yourself participating in activities that you said were too painful to do because of your injuries may undermine your claim.
To protect yourself, always be mindful of what you post on social media, and consider disabling any social accounts altogether until after the case has been settled.
4. Value Your Claim Fully
If you want to maximize your personal injury compensation, ensure you value your claim fully. You can rely on an expert attorney to help you with this process.
Don’t consider your current injuries only. Instead, add the cost of future medical treatment, lost earnings, and any other impacts the accident has had or will have on your life. Consider using a personal injury calculator to help you value your claim.
5. Bring in an Expert Witness
If you want to enhance the value of your personal injury claim, bringing in an expert witness may be the key. An expert witness can provide professional testimony to support your claims.
For example, if you have suffered a back injury in a car accident, an expert witness could be a doctor who specializes in treating this type of injury. This doctor could provide testimony about the extent of your injuries and the long-term effects they are likely to have.
6. Hire an Attorney
Finally, it’s important to work with an experienced personal injury attorney who can help you build a strong case and navigate the complicated legal process.
An attorney will assist with gathering evidence, working with medical experts, negotiating with insurers, and more. With their help, you can maximize the value of your personal injury claim and get the compensation you deserve.
As with any legal matter, maximizing the value of a personal injury claim requires knowledge and expertise.
By following these key steps and working with an experienced attorney, however, you can be well on your way to getting the justice you deserve for your injuries.
What Are Some Common Defenses to Personal Injury Claims?
There are several defenses that the defendant may try to use in response to your personal injury claim. Some of the most common include:
- False or insufficient evidence: The other party may try to argue that there is not enough evidence to support your claim, especially if there are no witnesses or physical evidence at the accident scene.
- Comparative negligence: If you were partially at fault for the accident, the other party might try to reduce their liability by claiming that your injuries were partially or fully your own doing.
- Pre-existing injuries: The other side may argue that any injuries you sustained in the accident were pre-existing and not caused by their actions.
- Statute of limitations: If you file your claim after the statute of limitations has expired, the defendant may try to get your case dismissed. This is why it’s important to seek legal counsel as soon as possible after an accident.
Understanding how these and other defenses can impact your personal injury claim is critical for maximizing its value.
An experienced personal injury attorney will be able to help you understand the defenses that may be used against you and how to overcome them. With their help, you can maximize the value of your claim and get the compensation you truly deserve.
Can I Sue for Emotional Distress?
Emotional distress is a type of mental suffering caused by witnessing or experiencing a traumatic event. If you have suffered emotional distress, you may be able to file a personal injury claim against the party responsible.
To win your case, you will need to prove that the defendant’s actions were negligent and that this negligence led to your emotional distress.
There are many different types of situations that may lead to emotional distress, including:
- Car accidents
- Medical malpractice
- Physical assault or abuse
- Death or serious injury of a loved one
Depending on the severity and duration of your injuries, you may be able to obtain compensation for medical bills, lost wages, pain & suffering etc.
Will My Personal Injury Case Go to Trial?
Personal injury cases are typically civil matters resolved through negotiation or mediation. However, if an agreement cannot be reached, your case may go to trial.
If your case does go to trial, it will likely be before a judge and jury. During this process, each side will present their evidence and arguments, and the jury will ultimately decide who is liable and how much they must pay.
While most personal injury cases are resolved without going to trial, it’s important to understand the process in case your case does end up going this route.
An experienced personal injury attorney will be able to help you navigate the legal process and build a strong case, whether it is resolved before trial or ultimately goes before a judge and jury.
Personal injury cases can be complex, but with the right information, you can understand what to expect. We’ve covered the basics of personal injury claims in this guide, from what is a personal injury case to the common types of injuries and damages you may be able to seek.
If you have any further questions or need help filing a claim, don’t hesitate to reach out to an experienced personal injury attorney for legal help.