If you were hurt or lost a loved one, and you believe someone else is responsible for this. You may have a personal injury case. This means that you are entitled to receive compensation from the fault party for your losses, expenses, pain and suffering. But how do you know if you have a case? An experienced attorney at Kelly & Associates Injury Lawyers can give you the answers after reviewing the circumstances of the event.
The difficulty in providing an answer before knowing all the facts comes from the unique character of each situation. What we can do in this article is offer you a few helpful explanations on the elements that constitute grounds for a personal injury lawsuit.
How Do I Know If I Have a Case? What Kind of Situations Represent a Personal Injury Case?
The most frequent cases handled by personal injury lawyers involve:
- motor vehicle accident
- medical malpractice
- premises liability
- defective products.
In each case, the claimant must prove the existence of several conditions:
- that the other party had a duty of care towards the victim
- that failure to meet the duty of care (negligence) lead to the occurrence of the event
- that the victim suffered injuries and property damage as a direct result of the event.
In some situations, the obvious responsible party is not fully at fault – for instance, in the case of poorly maintained roads with potholes or severe weather conditions. This is why the lawyer needs to know all the circumstances of the accident in order to give you an informed opinion.
Understanding the Principle of Comparative Negligence
Before you file a personal injury claim, your lawyer will ask you if you are partly responsible for the event that caused your injuries. For example, if you were running a red light and another car (that had green light) ran into you, you are more than 50 percent at fault for the car accident. Therefore, you do not have a case, because no court will award any compensation in this case.
However, if you can prove that you are less than 50% responsible, skilled defense attorneys will be able to negotiate proportional compensation for you. In order to establish the facts of the case, the personal injury law firm will make its own inquiries and investigations, including:
- getting a copy of the police accident report
- obtaining witness statements
- collecting evidence (photos, videos, CCTV footage) that proves the responsible person’s fault for the accident.
Is It Medical Malpractice or Not?
Many claims of medical malpractice turn out not to be what they seem. In order to have a case, you must prove that your health care provider failed to give you the required standard of care. Now, this is not a medical term, but a legal one, and its interpretation varies from state to state.
In general, a medical malpractice lawsuit is warranted if:
- the doctor demonstrates negligence, that is, failure to provide the standard of care that any prudent health care practitioner with similar skills would provide
- if the doctor acts in a reckless manner (for instance, performs a medical act, such as surgery, under the influence of drugs or alcohol).
Can I File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
If the accident leads to fatal injuries, the victim’s loved ones may seek financial compensation in a civil case against the responsible party. This type of case can only be filed if:
- the event lead to the death of a human being
- the event was caused by someone’s negligence or intentional action
- the family suffers monetary hardship and injustice
- the deceased person has an appointed representative or executor to their estate.
In such a difficult time, it is very important to rely on an experienced personal injury lawyer, who will calculate all the types of damages you are entitled to, including medical expenses before death, funeral cost, lost wages and loss of future incomes.
Know about the Statute of Limitations
If you want to file an auto accident claim or a personal injury lawsuit, you have a window of time from the date of the even to do so. The law recognizes that it is unreasonable to hold someone liable forever. In the state of Massachusetts, you have three years to file for compensation for the injuries and damages you sustained.
For this reason, you should contact an auto accident lawyer as soon as possible after the unfortunate event and present your case to them.
Does It Make Financial Sense to File a Lawsuit?
What you need to know about the compensation claim process is that a court award does not guarantee the fact that you will recover your damages. First of all, the court will not assist you to actually enforce the award decision. You have to hire debt recovery specialists and this will compound your costs. Secondly, if the defendant is insolvent or does not own valuable assets, you may not recover your costs and expenses.
The best case scenario is when the at-fault party has insurance coverage and your lawyer can negotiate an out of court settlement with the insurance company.
Should I Accept the Settlement Offered by the Insurance Agency?
In most cases, the fault party’s insurance agency will contact you first, very soon after the accident. They will try to get you to sign a settlement claim and offer you a lump sum. If you sign that document, you waive your rights to sue or conduct further settlement negotiations. As for the amount they offer, it is in most cases insufficient to represent a fair compensation for expenses, pain and emotional suffering.
The best course of action is to refrain from discussing your case with the insurance adjuster and hire a skilled personal injury lawyer to represent you and conduct negotiations on your behalf.
At Kelly & Associates Injury Lawyers, we are available 24/7 and offer you a free consultation, so call us: 1-800-LAW-GUYS!