The 3 Major Factors in a Personal Injury Case
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There are many different types of personal injury claims and cases. Even though every claim is different, most are handled by dealing with the same three major factors.
At Zinda Law Group, our personal injury attorneys consider three main factors when evaluating a new case and how it is impacted by the auto accident laws in your state. These factors are liability, damages, and recovery. Although these factors may apply differently depending on the type of accident, learning what they are generally is an important starting point for injured plaintiffs.
In most personal injury cases, the first factor that must be analyzed is liability. The liability factor must be one in which the personal injury victim prevails in order for recovery to be possible. Fault, or legal liability, for the underlying accident is the key issue in many personal injury claims. Liability in a personal injury case can be established by looking at elements of negligence, product liability, premises liability, warranty breaches, and more. Department of Justice statistics about lawsuits show how important it is that an injured plaintiff consider the following things before pursuing a personal injury lawsuit in court.
Requirements of a Negligence-Based Claim
The majority of injury claims brought by plaintiffs arise under traditional theories of negligence. Negligence is essentially conduct that falls below the standard of care expected of a reasonable person and causes harm to another person. In a negligence-based personal injury case, a plaintiff must be able to prove four elements. While specific negligence statutes vary by jurisdiction, most contain the same basic requirements:
A legal duty owed by the defendant to the plaintiff must exist. For example, all automobile drivers owe a duty of care to other motorists on the road. If the defendant did not owe the plaintiff any kind of duty, recovery may not be possible under negligence law.
The plaintiff must also be able to prove the defendant breached that legal duty. A breach of duty occurs when a defendant knowingly, intentionally, or recklessly engages in conduct that threatens the sanctity of the defendant’s safety.
Third, the defendant’s negligence must be the cause of the plaintiff’s harm or injuries. The plaintiff must be able to prove that the defendant’s actions directly caused the accident and injuries in question. Without this essential causation element, you may not be able to recover for your injuries.
Lastly, the plaintiff must prove that they incurred actual damages as a result of the incident. This can include medical bills, lost income, pain and suffering, or property damage.
Notably, your ability to recover may depend on the type of negligence theory that your jurisdiction and its courts choose to operate under.
In a state operating under a contributory negligence system, victims who contribute to the accident at all are barred from recovery. This common law doctrine primarily aims to prohibit recovery by victims who were injured, even slightly, by their own negligence or carelessness.
Comparative negligence is another common law theory that applies to negligence and injury suits in the majority of states. Comparative negligence asserts that when an accident occurs, the fault and/or negligence of each party involved is to be based upon their respective contributions to the accident. Unlike contributory negligence, comparative negligence allows plaintiffs to recover for their injuries, even if they were partially at fault or even the ones being sued for a car accident.
This system allows plaintiffs to assign blame and seek compensation from the responsible parties accordingly. Other states have implemented more stringent versions of traditional comparative negligence, including states that adhere to the 51%, 50%, and slight comparative negligence rules. Ultimately, your ability to recover for accidents in which you contributed will depend on your jurisdiction and its regulations.
Other Ways to Prove Liability
Although most do, not all injury claims involve traditional negligence. If you are unable to satisfy the requirements of a negligence claim, you can still prove fault in a variety of other ways, including by establishing intentional conduct, proving negligence per se, or showing that the case should be governed by the strict liability standard of proof.
Intentional conduct is something that is done voluntarily and with a purpose to inflict harm or damage. Personal injury cases arising from assault, battery, and similar conduct can give rise to an intentional tort case.
Negligence Per Se
Negligence per se applies when there is an unexcused violation of a statute or established law. In such a case, a defendant may be automatically held liable for damages if the plaintiff’s injury is of the type that the statute was intended to prevent, and the plaintiff belongs to the class of people the statute was intended to protect.
Strict liability means that the injured person does not need to establish the defendant’s negligence in order to recover damages. The most common claims involving strict liability are product liability cases, but this fault concept can apply to incidents involving possession of wild animals and to other abnormally dangerous activities. Strict liability operates under the notion that these types of defendants assume the risks of their activities and must pay for any resulting damages stemming from this assumption.
Personal injury claims can require extensive legal analysis and research. Courts require plaintiffs to present evidence and documentation—sometimes many pieces—before awarding damages. Skilled professional attorneys are experienced in gathering and maintaining these kinds of materials.
Since your ability to recover depends on requirements like these and your jurisdiction’s statutory and common law, it would be beneficial to contact an attorney who specializes in auto accident law and personal injury cases. If you were injured in an accident, a personal injury attorney can help you assess the laws of your jurisdiction and apply them to the specific facts of your unique case.
The second factor in a personal injury case is damages. Damages refers to the sum of money the law imposes for a breach of some duty or violation of some right. Generally, there are two types of damages: compensatory and punitive.
Compensatory damages are intended to compensate the injured party for a loss or injury. To receive compensatory damages, you may need to prove that a loss occurred. You will also need to be able to quantify the amount of your loss to the jury or judge. Most courts recognize two types of compensatory damages: economic and non-economic.
Economic damages are tangible damages that can easily be quantified. The value of economic damages does not typically change depending on the jury that is evaluating them. Economic damages can include past and future medical expenses, past and future lost wages, household services, rehabilitation costs, property damage, out-of-pocket expenses, and lost earning capacity.
Non-economic damages are damages that are not so easily quantifiable. Non-economic damages may include pain, emotional anguish, humiliation, reputation damage, and loss of enjoyment.
Punitive damages are awarded to punish a wrongdoer. These damages may be awarded in addition to compensatory damages in certain circumstances. If you were injured in an accident, you should contact an attorney to help you assess your options for compensation. A personal injury attorney may be able to help you determine how much your case is worth.
The last factor in a personal injury case is a source for recovery. After you have established liability and damage, you must then determine whether there is a defendant willing and able to pay for your losses. If the defendant is unable to pay the damages, you may be left without any compensation.
Unfortunately, there are many severe cases where plaintiffs suffered significant losses but received no compensation because the responsible parties had no money to give. When evaluating whether a defendant is able to pay, you should consider the defendant’s assets and insurance policies. If the defendant has an applicable insurance policy, you may be able to get compensation from the insurance company itself, which is often more reliable than other sources of recovery.
Determining whether a defendant can provide you with adequate compensation can be difficult, especially for victims with little information. If you were injured in an accident, you should contact an attorney who handles personal injury claims as soon as possible. That attorney may be able to help you conduct research and evaluate your options accordingly.
CALL ZINDA LAW GROUP’S PERSONAL INJURY ATTORNEYS TODAY
Accidents can cause serious bodily injury and property damage, significantly impacting victims’ lives. Personal injury cases can also involve high stakes and substantial dollar amounts. Many personal injury cases are governed by three major factors: liability, damages, and recovery. If you have been involved in an accident, you should contact a lawyer who handles personal injury lawsuits as soon as possible. An experienced attorney may be able to help you determine liability, seek damages, and evaluate your recovery options.
At Zinda Law Group, we have the knowledge and resources necessary to help you pursue the highest compensation possible. Zinda Law Group offers personalized and quality consultation about the specifics of legal claims. The sooner you contact our office, the better we may be able to serve you.
If you or your loved one sustained injuries in an accident, call Zinda Law Group at (800) 863-5312 for a free case evaluation from one of our personal injury lawyers. You don’t owe us anything unless we win your case. That’s our No Win, No Fee Guarantee.
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