Do I have a personal injury case?
Personal injury cases are very complex. They often involve more than just one or two individuals and there are different laws set in place to govern different types of cases. In the arena of personal injury law alone, there are numerous things to consider, even to the point of filing multiple lawsuits over a single incident.
Determining whether or not you have an actionable case comes down to your ability to prove several things in your complaint or through the process of trying your case. First, you must be able to prove that you were (or the party you represent was) injured. Second, you need to show that the person or entity who caused the injury had a duty of care to ensure your safety. Lastly, you need to be able to show that the negligent entity breached duty of care with resulting bodily harm or worse.
Building Your Case
The first part of the process of satisfying your burden of proof involves a bit of due diligence. If you are injured in any kind of accident, your first course of action should be to seek medical help. The sooner you do this, the stronger your case will be. If you wait, it could be argued that the extent of your injury isn’t great enough to warrant the settlement or judgment you are seeking.
Follow any medical advice you receive regarding tending to your injury. Arrange for physical therapy. Fill prescriptions. Use convalescent aids like braces, crutches, or a wheelchair, even if you feel like you are strong enough to do without. If a doctor prohibits strenuous labor, don’t perform any.
These are just a few guidelines you can follow to help build a strong case. In doing them, you make it more difficult for the other side to argue against the severity of your injury.
Dealing With Insurance Companies
If you are contacted by the negligent party’s insurance carrier, be very careful how you respond. In many cases, the insurance company will try to convince you that you do not have a winnable case in court and will offer you a paltry settlement in their own (or their client’s) best interests. Before you take an insurance company’s assessment at face value, speak with a lawyer whose primary concern is you and your rights, not those of the negligent party.
Understanding Your Legal Rights
A qualified personal injury lawyer will examine your case objectively and determine if you have an actionable complaint. If you do, only a lawyer representing you will seek damages in an amount that is commensurate with the extent of your injury. A one-time insurance settlement will likely not cover extended care, therapies, or use of prescription medication to alleviate symptoms or facilitate healing.
If you do not have a case that is strong enough to hold up in court, a qualified attorney may counsel you to take the settlement that is being offered. An ethical attorney will not waste his or her time (or yours) on an action that will fail to make you whole. It is worth noting, however, that these cases are very few and far between. While personal injury cases are often complex, there is typically a clear path of negligence that can be traced back to either party.
What If I Think I Was At Fault?
A qualified personal injury lawyer can also help you determine your degree of negligence and pursue damages based on how responsible you were for your injury. Many workplace accidents, for example, will be covered under worker’s compensation even if the worker caused the injury do to his or her own negligence.
Never try to sort through legal details on your own or take the advice of opposing counsel or an insurance company representative. Your best course of action after an injury is to seek medical help, then immediately contact an attorney. The law limits the amount of time you have to take action on your claim, so act fast. Wait too long and you could forfeit your right to collect, even a very strong case.