Being injured in an accident is not something that we plan for in advance. It isn’t like when we go on vacation and take a paid week off of work. Personal injury accidents have the potential of overturning our lives. But with the right legal representation, it is possible to bounce back.
Many people are under the misconception that personal injury lawyers are too expensive to retain. Still, you are likely to get a higher amount of compensation when you hire one. Even knowing this, some will try to get restitution without the help of a qualified professional.
When a personal injury lawsuit is filed, it is based on an accident (in most cases) that caused an injury. Personal injury is a term that is used to define an injury sustained to the body, emotions, or mind but does not encompass property damage. A personal injury lawsuit can also be referred to as a tort.
Accidents that cause personal injuries can include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Assault and battery
- Car accidents
- Gym injuries
- Premises liability
- Amusement park accidents
- Elevator accidents
- Commercial premises liability
- Governmental premises liability
- Hotel injury
- Security negligence
- Slip and fall accidents
- Product liability
- Automobile defects
- Product recalls
- Accidents in the workplace
- Aerial lift accidents
- Construction site accidents
- Dock, port, and ship accidents
- Scaffold accidents
- Table saw injuries
- Tower crane accidents
- Wrongful death
The plaintiff (the injured person) and their legal counsel have the burden of proof in a personal injury case. The burden of proof is proving that the defendant’s negligence was the cause of the injuries, and they are responsible for compensation.
Negligence is a failure to exercise the care toward others that a reasonable person would do in the same circumstances. The plaintiff and their personal injury lawyer are responsible for proving the negligence of the defendant. Personal injury lawyers are experienced at proving the four elements that are required to prove negligence.
- The party had a duty to act reasonably under the circumstances
- The party breached this duty
- The breach of the party’s duty caused the plaintiff to be injured
- The injuries caused you to suffer monetary damages as well due to their breach of duty
You could think of this as a cause and effect chain. As an example, you are shopping at a local business. The business owner is the only other person in the shop, and they just mopped the floor. They neglected to place the wet floor signs in the area where they mopped. You fall and break your leg, requiring surgery, physical therapy, and time off of work.
- The shop owner had a duty to place those wet floor signs in the area they mopped in to indicate potential danger.
- The shop owner failed to place these signs.
- The lack of warning caused you to fall and break your leg.
- Your broken leg from the wet floor without the wet floor signs caused you to have medical bills and the inability to earn wages.
Not all situations involving negligence are as clearly defined as this one. Sometimes it requires a brilliant legal mind to help prove the negligence of another individual.
Evidence Gathering for a Lawsuit
To prove negligence and the necessity for monetary compensation, a personal injury lawyer and their client will be required to provide evidence of the negligence. Most evidence submitted in a personal injury claim is documentation.
After an accident, you should seek medical attention. Even if you can walk away from the accident and feel fine, you still need to be looked over by a doctor and have it documented. After an accident, adrenaline in the body goes into overdrive, often masking the existence of injuries. The sooner the visit is with a doctor, the better for your case if you need to file one. As always, if medical personnel is called to the scene of the accident, you should have them perform a medical evaluation at the scene.
As a victim, you or someone you trust should take photographs of the scene where the accident took place. It is preferable to have these photographs taken at the time of the accident to show what happened, but this is not always a feasible option.
Any bills that you accrue during the time you are injured can be claimed in the compensation of a personal injury claim, within reason. Most documents that will be entered into discovery by your lawyer will be:
- Hospital bills
- Follow-up doctor bills
- Physical therapy bills
- Pay stubs to prove lost wages
- Utility bills
- Insurance statements
- Housing bills
- Proof of permanent disability (if applicable)
- Police reports
- Witness statements
- Your sworn testimony
There is an endless number of bills and documentation that can pile up after a personal injury accident occurs. Your personal injury lawyer will know exactly what paperwork you should gather up and which ones they will need to have for a successful lawsuit.
The sooner you file a claim against a defendant in a personal injury lawsuit, the sooner you are likely to get compensation for the accident. If you wait too long to file, you could fall under the statute of limitations and end up with no compensation.
A statute of limitations is a set period that defines how long after an accident, you are allowed to file the lawsuit. The statute of limitations timeline will vary from state to state. When you talk to a personal injury lawyer, they will know the statute of limitations in your state.
The compensation that can be requested in a personal injury lawsuit is categorized into two categories, measurable and unmeasurable.
Measurable compensation is the amount that can be easily calculated. Under this category of compensation, you will find medical bills, therapy bills, housing bills, and any other documented amount that has accrued since the accident occurred. These are documents that can be submitted to the court to show precisely what this accident has physically cost you.
Unmeasurable compensation amounts are a little trickier to facilitate. They are not impossible to obtain, though. These costs include pain and suffering, effects from defamation, loss of consortium, punitive damages, and emotional stress. These will often be assigned a total at some point during the trial.
- Pain and suffering
- Pain is not always visible in a victim of an accident. Sometimes the proof is in the medications that have to be prescribed to help them manage the pain. The quality of life decreases for someone who lives in constant pain. After an accident, it may be necessary for professionals to determine the amount of time that a victim will experience these side effects. It is possible that the victim will never be the same and should be compensated accordingly for that.
- Effects from defamation
- Defamation is the act of damaging someone’s reputation, which can be just as costly as a physical injury. If a business owner suffers from the defamation of an unhappy client, and it results in a severe loss of business profitability, these could be included in a compensation claim.
- Loss of consortium
- After an accident, the possibility exists that the injuries to the victim will be so severe it will affect the family and their relationships. In most cases, it refers to the relationship between a couple being hindered from the negligence of the defendant.
- Emotional stress
- The healing process after an accident can take a toll on a person and their family. When injuries are substantial, the patience of everyone in the household may be tested. The victim is frustrated because they cannot obtain the same level of activity they were in before the accident quick enough. The family is upset because they aren’t sure how they can help the victim, and everyone is likely feeling the strain, all the way down to the pets. A personal injury lawyer can use statements to help back up these claims as well as use expert witnesses to attest to the dynamic of the home before and after the accident. The use of medicines like antidepressants may even be sufficient evidence if documentation shows that they were prescribed to the victim or family after the accident occurred.
- Punitive damages
- The easiest comparative for punitive damages is to compare it to a traffic ticket or fine. Tickets and fines are assessed in an effort to dissuade the driver from doing the same illegal act twice. The same applies to punitive damages. These can be thought of as the fine for their negligent actions that caused the accident. Most trials result in punitive damages being ordered payable to the plaintiff.
Obtaining a Reputable Personal Injury Lawyer
The only way you are going to get the maximum compensation from a personal injury lawsuit is to obtain a lawyer who specializes in these types of cases. TorkLaw offers offices across the country to help clients who are looking to receive compensation for injuries sustained from the negligence of another. For a free case consultation, call the offices of TorkLaw at 888-845-9696 or fill out our online inquiry form.