WHAT ARE THE ELEMENTS OF A PERSONAL INJURY CLAIM?
The issues in a typical claim or a lawsuit arising out of personal injury. First is establishing liability. To establish liability, you must show that the other person or company had a legal duty to you. You also must show that the company or individual breached that duty to you. The liability aspects of a case are different depending on what kind of case you are talking about. If it’s a car wreck, a person has a duty to not run a stop sign or to not run a red light or to not drive while they’re tired. If they run into you or crash into you, an argument must be made that they breached a duty. Once you’ve been able to establish that the defendant had a duty to you and they breached that duty, the next step is to determine the damages involved. In determining the damages, the nature and extent of the physical injury is significant. The amount of medical bills incurred, both in the past and the amount of medical bills that you’re reasonably likely to incur in the future as a result of the injuries, is critical. We also look at your lost wages or lost earning capacity. Obviously, if you were injured and unable to work you should be compensated for your lost wages. Finally, the concept of pain and suffering. There is no magic formula in determining pain and suffering. It is a case by case basis. Generally, it is related to the nature and extent of physical injuries and the impact on your life. Another element that is often glossed over is the element of causation. Not only do you have to prove that the opposing party is actually liable for your injuries and not only do you have to prove that you were in fact injured, you also have to prove that the breach of liability caused the injury that you’re claiming. In essence, you have to show that the negligent act that you’re complaining of, actually caused the injuries and damages that you’re complaining of. Many times, whether you had a pre-existing condition or what your previous health condition was, becomes critical. Also, perhaps you have suffered from subsequent injuries following the incident at issue in the claim or lawsuit. If you have questions regarding pursuing a personal injury claim, please feel free to call my office for a free consultation.