If you or a loved one suffers from an accident or injury where someone else is legally responsible, you may be able to file a legal dispute. A personal injury claim can arise from automobile accidents, medical malpractice, workplace accidents, assault, product defect accidents, nursing home abuse, and invasion of privacy.
Negligence is the most common basis of liability in a personal injury claim. It occurs when an individual fails to behave with the level of care that someone of ordinary sense would have in similar circumstances. If you succeed in your claim, the court may order the defendant to pay you money as compensation for the damages.
Identifying the Elements of a Personal Injury Claim
But before getting compensation, the injured party must be able to prove the viability of their case. You can do this by establishing the four distinct elements of negligence: duty of care, breach, causation, and damages.
Duty of Care
Personal injury law requires a person or company to act in a way concerning another person to avoid injuring them. Duty of care is based on the relationship between parties. For example, property owners owe a duty of care to their visitors, medical practitioners to their patients, and employers to their employees.
Breach of Duty
Breach of duty occurs when an individual or entity fails to meet their legal obligation to act with reasonable care towards others. For example, if a driver fails to obey the traffic lights and causes an accident, the law may find them to have breached the duty of care towards other road users.
In a personal injury case, causation links the defendant’s breach of duty and the plaintiff’s injuries. To prove causation, you must demonstrate that the defendant’s actions led to your injuries or that their negligence did.
If you have preexisting conditions or other factors contributing to your injuries, proving causing may be difficult. Your personal injury attorney will gather as much evidence as possible to support your claim, including interviewing eyewitnesses. If you can prove causation, the defendant can be liable for your damages, including medical treatment and compensation for pain and suffering.
Finally, you need to prove the damages you experienced as a result of the defendant’s breach of duty. To verify the damages, you must demonstrate the losses sustained due to the injury, including:
- Economic damages such as medical bills, travel expenses, lost wages, and out-of-pocket expenses
- Non-economic damages, also known as pain and suffering
Proving damages requires gathering evidence to prove causation, fault, liability, and damages. Your attorney may conduct an independent investigation to gather evidence such as witness statements, medical records, police reports, photographs of the injuries, and other relevant documents.
After the investigation, the attorney will prepare and send a settlement demand letter to the insurance company. The statement will include an assessment of all economic and non-economic losses. During litigation, both sides will have access to all information needed to prove their case through discovery processes such as depositions and interrogatories.
Ultimately, the personal injury plaintiff will not prevail if you can’t meet the burden of proof at trial.
Gathering Evidence to Support Your Claim
Gathering evidence is a critical step in personal injury claims, and it may make or break your case. The first few days after the accident are crucial for gathering and preserving evidence. To have enough evidence to prove your case, your attorney needs to:
Collect Medical Records and Reports
Medical records and reports are crucial pieces of evidence in personal injury cases. Your attorney can request them from the healthcare provider with your written permission. After receiving the records, the attorney will create a demand package summarizing the case, the injuries you sustained, and the amount of damages you’re requesting.
As per federal law, healthcare providers should retain medical record copies for at least six years. The availability of these records during personal injury cases helps determine a specific case’s physical injuries and feasibility.
Obtain Witness Statements and Documentation
Your attorney will also need to obtain witness statements and documentation through the accident investigation. The lawyer should be prompt in obtaining witness statements to avoid instances where the witness forgets about the events leading to the incident. Other important documents that can help in building a strong personal injury case include the following:
- Police reports
- Medical records
- Pay stubs
- Hospital records
- Incident reports
Document Your Losses and Expenses
Documenting your loss helps prove how the accident affected you, including the extent of your injuries and financial losses. It involves gathering all the relevant documents, such as medical bills, receipts for out-of-pocket expenses, and wage statements. In addition, to strengthen your claim, you should record any missed workdays or lost income due to the injuries.
You should also document any pain and suffering you experienced as a result of the injuries by keeping a daily journal of how the injury has affected your everyday life. Detailed documentation of your losses can help build a strong case and increase the likelihood of receiving fair compensation.
Work with an Experienced Attorney
To build a strong personal injury case, consider working with an experienced attorney. Such a lawyer:
- Helps you navigate the often-complicated legal system and the legal maneuvers of the opposing party
- Can protect you from the insurance company and claims adjuster
- Knows how to negotiate and can make sure that you receive fair compensation for your damages
- Can help you get medical attention by referring you to medical professionals who specialize in treating injuries like yours
- Allows you to focus on your recovery instead of dealing with an insurance company and claims adjuster
Evaluating Your Claim’s Strength and Viability
When deciding whether or not to pursue a case, your attorney will evaluate the claim in extensive detail so that you get a realistic picture of what your claim is worth. This evaluation includes determining who has responsibility for causing the accident and how much money will need to be paid fairly. Then, after considering both the strength and weaknesses of the liability case and the nature and extent of damages, they will consider what range a jury is likely to award if the court tried the case.
Let an Experienced Attorney Help You
If you think you have a strong personal injury case, the Law Office of Gina M. Wicik is here to help you. We will use our experience and knowledge to build a compelling case on your behalf. We will work tirelessly to ensure you receive the compensation you deserve for your injuries.
Contact us today, and let’s discuss how we can help you get the justice you deserve.