Has a reckless driver left you struggling with permanent pain and mounting debt? Has a dog bite left you scarred for life? Did a health care provider’s wrongful conduct nearly get you killed? If the answer is “yes,” you may have a valid personal injury claim against these people. And there’s a high chance your loss, pain, and suffering are rightfully compensated.
What Is a Personal Injury Lawsuit?
A personal injury lawsuit is an injured party’s legal proceeding against another party in a civil law court. The injured party usually seeks financial compensation for the injuries or damages caused by another person.
There are three key elements to prove in a personal injury lawsuit:
- Another person’s wrongful conduct that injured you, damaged your property or caused you any other type of loss.
- The nature and extent of the injury, damages, or loss caused by another person’s wrongful conduct;
- Liability of the defendant for your injury, damages, or loss.
A person can engage in “wrongful conduct” either out of gross negligence or ill intent. In most cases, negligence is the main cause. In other personal injury cases, a person intentionally causes another person harm.
But sometimes, the wrongful conduct is spurred by someone/something the defendant is only liable for. This is the case of parents or pet owners that are responsible for their kids’ or pets’ wrongful conduct.
When Can I File an Injury Lawsuit?
There are many instances when you can pursue a personal injury claim. But in the U.S., just 4 -5% of these cases go to trial. What’s more, nine out of 10 cases that go to trial have a zero rate of success. This means that it is best to settle the case before trial.
Most people (around 95%) will follow the second route. A personal injury trial is more costly and time-consuming than a pre-trial settlement. Many trials can last several months to several years. Plus, the legal fees will grow exponentially during that time.
In the meantime, you might lose your job or end up in so much debt that you’d have been better off if you had settled the case before trial.
Most Common Personal Injury Cases
Motor Vehicle Accidents
In the U.S., car crashes are behind the most personal injury cases. If you were injured in a car accident and the other driver is at fault, that driver’s car insurance company must cover your injury claims. In the so-called no-fault states, your own insurer takes care of that, regardless of fault.
Slip & Fall/ Premises liability
It is a business’ and property owner’s legal duty to keep their premises safe. If you fell and injured yourself on a faulty staircase on another person’s property, you can hold them liable. The same goes for dog bites, falls on slippery platforms, and tripping over obstacles.
In these cases, multiple lawsuits are brought against a manufacturer of a defective product that caused injuries to plaintiffs. These lawsuits are also known as a class action. Drugmakers and food companies often feature as defendants in such cases.
If you get injured at work, and your employer is at fault, you can institute a claim against your employer.
If a negligent nurse or reckless doctor cause you non-fatal injuries, you can bring them to trial. The same goes for fatal injuries caused to a family member.
Do I Need to Hire a Personal Injury Attorney?
Lawyers can be expensive. But in personal injury trials, they can make the difference between winning and losing.
Legally, you may negotiate a personal injury settlement without a lawyer. If you feel confident about it and the injury or damage is not severe, go for it. But in some cases, the injury can be so serious you’ve ended up with insane medical bills and lost income. So, you may need to consider hiring an attorney.
Plus, there are cases in which you are outnumbered. We’re talking about instances when the defendant has a dream team of lawyers, ready to rip you out in court. For instance, if you live in New Orleans and work for a local offshore drilling company, you’ll need help from a seasoned New Orleans personal injury lawyer to win a case against your employer. Your chances of winning will be razor-thin without expert assistance.
What’s more, personal injury attorneys will not charge you for an initial consultation. So, it’s a good idea to at least talk to one to see your actual odds of winning. But don’t expect the expert to tell you the exact amount he or she will be able to recover for you. There are so many things to factor in that no honest attorney could give you an exact estimate at that point.