If you find yourself suffering from an injury or accident and feel as though your suffering could have been prevented, you may have grounds for a personal injury claim. While some occurrences really are “true” accidents, others are caused by the negligence of another person or entity. In some cases, what was lost cannot be recovered, especially if it resulted in death. However, what a personal injury claim can do is bring justice and accountability to hopefully prevent it from happening again. So how do you know if you have a case? Here are three key components every personal injury claim must meet.
1. Did you suffer an injury (physical or non-physical)?
Personal injury law doesn’t only cover physical, bodily harm. A “personal injury” is defined as having injury to the body, mind, or emotions. If you’re experiencing physical or emotional pain as a result of an accident, you’re eligible to pursue a personal injury claim. It’s difficult to define any emotional pain as injury if the person already suffered from inflictions in those areas. However, if an injury has led to mental anguish and that anguish is a direct consequence of negligence, then non-physical injuries can justify a claim.
Some types of personal injury claims are:
- Auto & Motorcycle Accidents
- Personal Watercraft Accidents
- Boating & Cruise Ship Accidents
- Assault Claims
- Product Defect Accidents (Product Liability)
- Insurance Litigation
- Slip & Falls
2. Was the injury caused by negligence?
Negligence can be proved if the party responsible failed to take proper care in doing something they should have done. If you take your case to court, it’s important to understand that claiming negligence is based on four elements:
- Duty: The defendant had a legal duty to behave in a certain way toward you under the circumstances. A duty is owed when there is an expected responsibility.
- Breach: The defendant breached that duty by acting or failing to act in a certain way toward you. In other words, they failed to meet the expected responsibility.
- Causation: The actions (or inaction) of the defendant were the legal cause of your injury. Even if the defendant had a responsibility, there will need to be proof that it was indeed that negligence that directly caused the personal injury.
- Damages: You were injured or otherwise harmed as a result of the actions or inaction of the defendant and the actual damages can be translated to monetary compensation that can remedy this harm.
3. Do you have recoverable damages?
In a personal injury claim, “damages” is a legal term for the sum of money awarded to an injured person to compensate for their injuries and other losses. These damages can be measurable costs (such as loss of wages or medical expenses) or less measurable costs (such as mental anguish or pain and suffering). When it comes to damages as a whole, it’s also important to know whether or not the damages can actually be recovered from the person or entity you are filing the lawsuit against.
These three questions are a great way to gather your thoughts in the beginnings of a personal injury claim. But the best way to know if you have a legitimate case if to request a consultation with a personal injury attorney. Should you decide to pursue a personal injury lawsuit, an attorney will be able to assess your situation and give you a professional opinion on what your options and likely outcomes are.