How Do I Know If I Have a Personal Injury Case?

Gauging the strengths and weaknesses of your personal injury case

By Tim Kelly, J.D. | Reviewed by Canaan Suitt, J.D. | Last updated on April 6, 2023

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Filing a personal injury claim can be overwhelming. Dealing with serious injuries means facing your insurance company, rising medical bills, and significant financial loss. It can all lead an injured person to wonder whether a personal injury lawsuit is even worth the trouble.

Successful personal injury lawsuits can make accidents victims whole again, providing a financial remedy to help ease their pain and suffering. This article provides you with tips on how you can determine whether you might have a personal injury law case on your hands.

Still, if you’re an injured party that wishes to hold those responsible accountable, you should schedule a free consultation with a personal injury attorney from a trusted law firm right away.

Personal injury lawyers can provide you with the essential legal advice you need to get the ball rolling.

What Are the Basic Requirements for a Personal Injury Case?

Some common causes of serious injuries are car accidents, medical malpractice, defective products, property damage, wrongful death, and workplace accidents. Personal injury lawsuits can arise when another party is at fault for those injuries. The leading cause of action in personal injury lawsuits is a legal principle called “negligence.”

The basic requirements in a negligence action are:

  1. The defendant owed a duty of care to an injured party
  2. The defendant breached their duty to the injured party
  3. The defendant’s breach caused the victim’s injuries
  4. The injured party suffered harm that can be remedied in civil court

While negligence is undoubtedly the most prominent cause of action, it is certainly not the only type of case leading to a personal injury lawsuit. When you’ve been injured in an accident and are unsure of your legal options, consider seeking a free case evaluation from an experienced personal injury attorney. Third-party databases such as Super Lawyers can help narrow your search for local personal injury lawyers.

How To Prove Negligence in a Personal Injury Lawsuit

In civil court, the injured party (the plaintiff) must prove their asserted claim beyond “a preponderance of the evidence.” This means that it must be more probable than not that the defendant is responsible for the plaintiff’s injuries. To show this, personal injury attorneys must prove all four of the basic requirements of a negligence case. Here’s how:

  • Duty of care: First, a personal injury attorney will use the evidence of the case to prove that a defendant owed a duty of care to the plaintiff. This “duty” can manifest itself in a variety of ways. If you suffer a slip and fall accident in a store, it could have been because someone had a duty to put down a caution sign.
  • Breach: Once an attorney has proven that the defendant had a duty to the plaintiff, they will next attempt to establish a breach. Mopping a floor at a store and not placing a caution sign over the area to alert visitors is a potential breach of duty.
  • Cause: When a duty is breached, that breach must serve as both an actual and proximate cause of the injuries incurred. Actual cause means that the injury would not have occurred but for the defendant’s breach. Proximate cause means that the defendant’s injury was a foreseeable result of the defendant’s conduct.
  • Damages/Harm: Finally, the injuries caused by the defendant must have caused some kind of harm for which the plaintiff can now recoup in civil court. This is where a personal injury attorney can be beneficial in evaluating your case. Think back to that caution sign example. Let’s say you slipped but only suffered a minor fall resulting in a light bruise and no medical bills. Here, you suffered no real physical, emotional, or financial damages for which you could file a personal injury claim. Additionally, it would not be worth the financial and legal burden of filing your claim without any medical expenses. Whenever in doubt, seek legal advice from a personal injury lawyer.

Personal injury attorneys will use the tools at their disposal to gather evidence and help prove your case. This often occurs through depositions, which are fact-gathering testimonials conducted by both sides of the case.

Finding the Right Attorney for Your Needs

It is crucial to approach the correct type of personal injury attorney—someone who can help you through your entire case. To do so, search the Super Lawyers directory, using the search box to find a lawyer based on your legal issue or location.

You may want to consider looking for an attorney representing plaintiffs in personal injury cases. As you know by now, there are many common types of personal injury cases. So you’ll want to find a personal injury lawyer with experience filing your specific type of case. Attend initial consultations and free case evaluations, and don’t underestimate the benefit of a strong attorney-client relationship as you embark on this legal process.

Why Should I Talk to a Personal Injury Lawyer?

The law surrounding personal injury can be complex, especially when medical care is involved. A lawyer can help you get your medical records and request documents from the person who harmed you. They can also help you understand the pros and cons of accepting a settlement offer or proceeding to trial.

A lawyer will help you deal with the insurance company, anticipate potential problems with your claim, and advise you on how to approach them. They may even be able to help you avoid potential problems altogether. Your lawyer will also keep track of deadlines and file all the paperwork with the necessary courts and agencies in the appropriate amount of time, giving you one less thing to worry about.

Here are some key things to consider discussing during your free case evaluation:

  • How are your attorney’s fees structured? Contingency fee, retainer, or hourly?
  • Does your attorney specialize in a particular area of personal injury law, such as medical malpractice or workers’ compensation type of cases?
  • Do the facts of your case warrant punitive damages?
  • Which state laws govern your claim?
  • Does your insurance policy cover your medical bills?
  • Can your attorney access medical records and police reports?
  • Is there a statute of limitations barring your claim?

If you’re an injured party that wishes to hold those responsible accountable, you should schedule a free consultation with a personal injury attorney from a trusted law firm right away.

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