What Are the Requirements for a Personal Injury Case?
If you’ve been hurt in an accident, that doesn’t automatically give you the basis for a successful personal injury claim. To recover monetary compensation, you and your lawyers must first prove three things…
Three Basic Requirements for a Personal Injury Case
Those responsible for your accident behaved carelessly or negligently. For example, a driver who runs a red light and rear-ends your vehicle would be considered negligent because he ignored the traffic light.
The other person’s negligence caused your injury. If you sustained broken bones and began suffering from frequent migraines after the accident above, then those injuries are due to the other driver’s negligence—the crash caused your injuries, and negligence caused the crash.
Your injury resulted in harm (compensatory damages). In the same accident, broken bones and migraines will probably result in medical bills, pain and suffering, and possibly lost wages. These are expenses which you wouldn’t have to pay had the accident never happened, and expenses that you deserve to be compensated for.
Now, let’s go into more detail to give you a better idea of whether you have a case or not.
Did you suffer a personal injury or property damage?
Personal injury and property damage are totally separate. If you were involved in a very minor accident—such as a fender bender—that caused slight damage to your vehicle (but none to your psyche or body), then you haven’t suffered a personal injury.
In these cases, a small claims court or insurance company may be able to help, but legally you have no basis for a personal injury lawsuit.
What is “a preponderance of evidence?”
In order to win your personal injury claim, your lawyer must offer a preponderance of evidence that the person responsible for your injuries acted negligently, and that comes in four parts:
Duty: The defendant has a legal duty to behave in a specific way under the given circumstances (NOT running a red light)
Breach: The defendant breached that duty by acting otherwise, or failing to act (running the red light)
Causation: The defendant’s action or inaction caused the circumstances of your injury
Damages: Your injury resulted in expenses that can be remedied with monetary compensation
What are recoverable damages?
If your personal or financial harm can be remedied by monetary compensation, then you have recoverable damages. These might include:
Pain and suffering
Reduced future earning capacity
Reduced quality of life
Loss of support or companionship
Some of these damages have an exact cost associated with them and are easy to calculate. Others—like pain and suffering—may require consultation with an experienced injury law firm to calculate.
The other component of “recoverable damages” is whether the defendant has the ability to compensate you. If you were rear-ended by a driver with no job and no assets, it may be impossible to recover any sort of meaningful damages (unless an alternative defendant is found, which is another reason to pick highly experienced lawyers).
Do I have a case?
If you’ve gone through the information above and it fits your injury to a T, get in touch with us immediately so we can go over your case and figure out how to recover the damages you deserve. Find out which of our Inland Empire personal injury attorneys are closest to you!