How Do I Know If I Have a Personal Injury Case?

It can be a stressful and confusing experience to be injured by someone else's carelessness, as it can leave you with financial, emotional, and physical burden. In these circumstances, you might be wondering if you can file a personal injury lawsuit to get paid for the damages you've suffered.

How Do I Know If I Have a Personal Injury Case?

Determining your legal choices and achieving justice require an understanding of the requirements for a personal injury case. When filing a personal injury case, the general rule is that you may only pursue a claim if someone else’s negligence caused the accident. You must have sufficient evidence to establish the at-fault party’s negligent actions in such cases. 

In this article, you will understand how to evaluate your circumstances and determine if you have a strong personal injury case to receive compensation for the damages.

What Qualifies as Personal Injury?

Personal injury cases arise when an individual sustains injuries or property damage from an accident caused by another negligent party. 

The purpose of filing a personal injury case is to retrieve restitution for the damages resulting from an accident. This financial compensation can help cover the expenses incurred by an accident, such as medical bills and vehicle repair costs.

For instance, a negligent driver hits you. Due to the crash, you incurred significant injuries, such as a broken leg and head concussions. In this case, you may file a claim to receive compensation for the treatment, rehabilitation, and other medical bills related to your injuries.

When Do I File a Personal Injury Case?

Personal injury cases depend on the presence of negligence in an accident. This means that you are entitled to pursue a personal injury claim if another party’s legal wrongdoings cause an incident resulting in injuries or damages. 

Essentially, you can establish another party’s negligence through the following:

Duty of Care

First, you need to determine whether the negligent party has a duty of care toward you. This means that a person needs to act reasonably to ensure the safety of others.

For example, a driver traveling on the road is expected to follow safety protocols and guidelines to ensure all road users are safe. From here, they should be able to avoid traffic violations that may cause harm to others.

Another instance is when a property owner puts up a “beware sign” and keeps their aggressive dog away from visitors. In this case, the owner fulfilled their duty to ensure others' safety when entering their premises. 

Breach of Duty Of Care

Breach of duty refers to the negligent party’s act of disregarding their responsibility to ensure the safety of others.

The reasonable person standard is an objective measure of care under common law. A reasonable person exercises reasonable prudence, refraining from acting in ways that could harm them or others.

In a personal injury case, the at-fault party likely violated their duty if a reasonable person would have exercised greater caution than they did.

In this example, a driver who goes over the limit and hits a pedestrian has violated their duty of care to the victim. Likewise, if the property owner failed to post a beware sign and guard their dog despite knowing its aggressive acts, they have breached their duty of care to the visitors. 

The Breach Caused an Accident

When establishing negligence, it is essential to justify that the party’s breach of duty caused the accident. This means that you have to demonstrate that there is a clear and direct relationship between the breach of duty and the accident.

For example, a speeding driver hits a pedestrian. The negligent driver failed to stop their vehicle when the pedestrian crossed at an intersection with a walk signal on. The accident resulted from the driver’s speeding violation in such a situation. 

Injuries and Other Damage

Lastly, you must demonstrate that the accident caused physical injuries and other damages. You can do this if you have the necessary evidence to prove the cause of your damages, such as:

  • medical diagnosis,
  • prescription drugs and other treatments,
  • additional health documents, 
  • mechanic’s vehicle damage assessment, and others.

Remember that you may only receive compensation for the damages caused by an accident. For instance, if you have a pre-existing condition unrelated to your incident, you may not include this in your restitution. 

What Happens if I’m Partially At-Fault for the Accident?

If you are partially liable for an accident, you may still claim restitution for the damage expenses. However, this depends on the jurisdiction of your state.

For example, in California, pure comparative negligence allows any accident victim to pursue compensation for the damages they sustained from an incident, regardless of how much they were at fault for the accident. 

Let’s say you were walking outside a crosswalk when a speeding driver hit you. In this case, it is safe to say that you were 10% responsible for the crash. This means that you can recover 90% of your compensation. Likewise, the driver may file a personal injury case against you and claim 20% restitution. 

This is why it is essential to contact a personal injury lawyer firm if you are involved in an accident. They will investigate your case, determine your legal rights depending on the appropriate jurisdiction and calculate how much is fair compensation for your claim. 

Can I File a Claim if I Have Property Damage Only?

You may file a personal injury claim even if it resulted in property damage alone. This is especially true if the accident caused severe property damage, such as when your vehicle is totaled in a crash.

Moreover, there are cases where victims incur late-appearing injuries from a crash. Sometimes, victims fail to gather the other party’s contact details and accept a settlement offer without considering their medical bills from the late-appearing injuries. 

This is why it is best to contact a personal injury lawyer who can guide you through the legal steps of pursuing accident claims, including consulting medical practitioners to check if you sustained injuries from the accident. 

What Evidence Can Prove a Personal Injury Case?

The at-fault party’s insurance provider will likely dismiss your personal injury case if you have limited evidence to prove your claim. It is, then, crucial to collect proof that may help establish the liable individual’s negligence, including: 

  • photos of the accident scene,
  • surveillance or dashcam footage capturing the accident,
  • witness testimonies,
  • police report,
  • doctor’s diagnosis and other health documents, and
  • vehicle repair or replacement costs. 

If it is physically impossible for you to gather evidence at the accident scene, a lawyer for personal injury can help assess your accident and work with investigators to collect proof when defending your claim. 

Can I Pursue a Personal Injury Case Independently?

You can file a personal injury claim independently, especially if the accident only results in minor damages. However, hiring a personal injury lawyer is best if you want to maximize your compensation.

For example, you were involved in a car accident that resulted in facial lacerations. Despite having a minor injury, you couldn’t return to your job as a flight attendant because of your facial scar. In this case, you can claim compensation for the future loss of income and possibly emotional distress due to the accident.

A personal injury attorney can examine your incident and determine all the possible damages applicable to your case, such as:

  • Medical bills
  • Other health-related expenses, such as medical equipment or aid
  • Vehicle repair or replacement costs
  • Lost wages
  • Future loss of income
  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional distress
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
  • Loss of life enjoyment
  • Loss of companionship or love

While you can include non-monetary losses from an accident, how will you quantify them? An accident attorney has the knowledge and expertise to calculate the total damage and determine the maximum compensation you deserve. 

Do I Need a Lawyer to Win a Personal Injury Case?

If you are involved in an accident, contacting a personal injury lawyer who can defend your case is always best. Remember that insurance providers aim to reduce your settlement or dismiss your claim entirely. 

For example, you incurred bodily injuries from an accident caused by someone else’s negligence. Their insurance provider will likely offer a lowball settlement covering your current expenses. While this may seem enticing, it will probably not cover other damage costs, such as pain and suffering. 

A lawyer of personal injury has the knowledge, expertise, and resources to prove liability and determine a fair settlement for you. They can collect the necessary evidence to justify your claim, prove the at-fault party’s liability, communicate with insurance companies and negotiate for the maximum compensation.