When you’ve been involved in a serious accident, you probably wonder whether or not you’re able to get compensated for your injuries and all the costs involved in treatment. Most people question whether they have to file an insurance claim or a lawsuit in order to recover damages.
A personal injury lawsuit is a lawsuit brought by the person injured in an accident against the person or company who was at fault for the accident. You can generally recover money for your injuries, time off work, medical treatments, as well as other costs related to the accident.
There are three basic questions that must be answered affirmatively before you can file a personal injury claim with the insurance company, or bring a lawsuit. If you can answer these questions with a yes, you most likely do have a valid personal injury case.
- Did you suffer personal injuries due to the accident? (This is only physical, mental, or emotional damage to you – not property damage to your vehicle.)
- Were the injuries you suffered caused by the negligence of another person or company?
- Were there significant costs involved in the treatment of your injuries?
If your answer to all three questions is yes, then you will typically be able to file a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault party to recover damages.
There are various factors that will affect the eventual outcome of your lawsuit. You can think of this article as a general guide to answer the question as to whether you have a valid claim for a lawsuit. Of course, if you have any questions, you should consult the attorneys at The Sevey Law Firm. They can answer your questions based on their decades of experience in personal injury law, and assess the strength of your individual case.
Did You Suffer Injuries Due To The Accident?
In order to have a valid claim, or bring a valid lawsuit, you must have suffered personal injuries due to the accident you were involved in. The injuries don’t have to be only physical, though – any injury to your body, mind, or emotions qualifies for a personal injury claim. Here are a few examples:
- If you are grocery shopping, and you fall and break your arm, that is a personal injury.
- If you have a debilitating phobia of driving from being involved in an accident, that is a personal injury.
- If you experience post-traumatic stress when you are in a vehicle after being in an accident, that is a personal injury.
- If you sustain a concussion in the accident that changes your personality, that is a personal injury.
These are all examples of personal injuries. On the other hand, if you were involved in an accident, and had no personal injuries, and your vehicle sustained damage, that does not warrant a personal injury lawsuit or claim. The insurance company is still responsible for fixing or replacing your vehicle, but that’s different than a personal injury claim.
Were The Injuries You Suffered Caused By The Negligence Of Another Person?
To have a valid personal injury claim or file a lawsuit, the injuries you suffered must have been caused by the negligence of a person or company (business or government agency). Any time a person or company acts in a negligent manner and causes injury to another due to that negligence, the at-fault party or company is liable for the injuries.
What is Negligence?
In legal terms, negligence is defined as the failure to behave with a level of care that a reasonable person would have exercised under the same circumstances. Regarding a personal injury lawsuit, there are four legal components necessary to prove a claim of negligence. Each of these components must be proven by a preponderance of the evidence in order to have a valid personal injury case:
- Duty – The at-fault party had a legal responsibility to behave in a certain manner towards the accident victim based on the circumstances;
- Breach – The at-fault party breached their legal responsibility by acting in a negligent manner, or failing to act responsibly, towards the accident victim;
- Causation – The negligent action or inaction of the at-fault party was the legal cause of the accident victim’s injuries; and
- Damages – The accident victim was injured due to the negligent actions or inactions of the at-fault party, and monetary damages can provide restitution for these injuries.
Were There Significant Costs Involved In The Treatment Of Your Injuries?
To file a personal injury lawsuit or file a personal injury claim, you must have suffered personal or financial hardships that can be remedied by monetary payment. In other words, you must have a claim for damages – a sum of money that is awarded to an injured party to adequately compensate them for their injuries and other losses.
When you can prove that the at-fault person or company acted in a negligent manner, you may be awarded a sum of money by the court or by a settlement negotiated with the insurance company. There are many aspects of your injury that will be considered to come to a dollar amount, including but not limited to:
- Medical bills incurred due to your injuries;
- Pain, suffering, and mental anguish;
- Lost wages due to time taken off work for recovery of your injuries;
- Loss of future earning capacity;
- Home and vehicle accommodations for any disability resulting from your injuries;
- Loss of enjoyment and quality of life; and
- Loss of companionship and support.
If you’ve suffered injuries due to an accident that wasn’t your fault, the most intelligent move you can make is to consult with an experienced personal injury attorney such as those at The Sevey Law Firm. Their decades of experience mean that you receive legal representation by someone who is an authority and an expert in personal injury law. Contact our office today for a free consultation.