Victims of physical, emotional, or mental injuries or harm can sue assailants for damages. Victims need to seek medical care or live with the trauma for the rest of their lives. Because of these repercussions, victims have the right to pursue personal injury cases to compensate them for the irreversible act.
What is a Personal Injury Case?
When a person suffers an injury to their body, emotional distress, or reputation damage and brings suit, a personal injury case arises.
Physical injuries are common causes of personal injury claims. Automobile accidents, assault, and product defect accidents are examples of instances that can lead to a suit. Moreover, emotional distress, defamation, and invasion of privacy can also give rise to a personal injury case.
Awards for damages can be claimed by the aggrieved party. For example, the defendant will be compelled to pay for medical expenses, lost wages, and even compensate the victim for mental and emotional distress.
4 Signs that You Can File a Personal Injury Claim
In a personal injury claim, it’s not enough that an accident happened or the plaintiff has been hurt. There are a few requirements for the case to prosper, but don’t worry, you might be able to spot them even before filing a case. The following are the requirements or elements of a personal injury case:
1. A personal injury
This requirement seems obvious, but proving that you have suffered a personal injury depends on your pieces of evidence. Establishing the presence of a personal injury is critical to your claim because, without this, your case may be dismissed.
It’s important to note that being present in an accident is not enough since an accident does not necessarily mean a person has been injured. Therefore, presenting documents helps establish the existence of an injury.
For both physical and mental or emotional injuries, medical records can be strong pieces of evidence. Diagnostic tests and treatment records detail the nature and severity of the damage. While it might be more difficult to prove mental or emotional injury, it can still be proven through records such as professional certification and tests.
Generally, negligence is carelessness. One’s carelessness can put someone in danger, causing them to be injured. However, when you have a personal injury claim, the court looks for the following elements:
- Duty. The defendant should have an obligation in the case. For example, a cab driver has the responsibility to bring you to your destination.
- Breach. A breach is present when the defendant fails to do his obligation, either through doing something or not doing something. If the cab driver could not bring you to your destination because he ran a red light and another car collided with you, that could be a breach.
- Causation. The defendant’s action or inaction should directly cause the injury. It shouldn’t be by chance or by unforeseeable circumstances.
- Damages. The plaintiff suffered injuries because of what the defendant did or did not do.
If two or more parties have been negligent in one case, they can all be held liable. The plaintiff can also be found to be negligent in their case. They can still have a claim for damages, although the amount will depend on the victim’s fault. Hence, the victim will be entitled to a lesser amount of damages.
3. Damages to recover
Because of the injury, you might have been affected financially, such as hospital bills and loss of income. Victims of personal injury cases can be compensated for these financial setbacks as long as the court can find that the compensation can be monetary.
Aside from personal injury and negligence, you need to prove that you have damages to recover from the defendant. There are two kinds of recoverable damages:
- Compensatory. Compensatory damages can be special or general. Special compensatory damages reimburse the financial repercussions of the injury. Medical bills and loss of earnings are examples of special compensatory damages. General compensatory damages are awarded for non-monetary damages in an injury claim. Examples of these are pain and suffering and mental anguish.
- Punitive damages. Punitive damages are less common, as they are imposed on the defendant as punishment. They are commonly awarded on battery, sexual assault, and cases involving fraud.
4. Cause of action
You need to have the right to file the case. For a cause of action to exist, an act should have been committed, allowing you to have a remedy in court. Without a cause of action, your case can be outrightly dismissed. Therefore, it’s essential to determine whether you have a valid cause of action and remedy.
During your consultation, your personal injury lawyer should inform you about the statute of limitations in your state. In California, for instance, the statute of limitations for personal injury cases is two years. As a general rule, when these two years run out, you lose the right to file a case.
The exceptions to this rule are delayed discovery and the absence of the defendant. Typically, the statute of limitations starts to run from the time of the injury or accident. However, some victims learn about the sustained injury later. In this case, the injured party will have one year after the discovery to file the case.
The defendant’s absence from the state is another exception because of the inability to serve them. Because the lawsuit cannot continue without service, the statute of limitations should be interrupted.
Build a Strong Case
Documentation, negligence, recoverable damages, and a valid remedy are crucial for a personal injury case to prosper. While you’re the most familiar with your situation, it’s still best to consult a legal professional about your claim. This way, you can successfully build a strong case and ultimately recover damages.
It’s best to choose the right personal injury lawyer to represent you when you decide to file the case. Remember that you are not only seeking to be compensated or reimbursed, but you are also fighting for your rights.