Top 5 things to know about personal injury

Recently on our legal forum a user asked, “I was involved in a car accident. The driver had insurance, but it looks like I might need to sue for additional compensation. I am wondering what I need to know before I file my personal injury claim.”

Personal Injury Overview

Personal injuries can be very serious resulting in thousands of dollars in lost wages, pain and suffering and severe injuries. Although drivers are supposed to carry sufficient car insurance to pay for any injuries they cause due to their own negligence, this doesn’t mean that drivers are always fully insured.

The good news is that in many states drivers who are not fully compensated by insurance or who cannot settle their injury claims successfully with the insurance company may have the right to file a personal injury claim to receive additional compensation.

Top things to understand about personal injury:

  1. Winning personal injury requires proving negligence.

Although individuals want to hold others responsible when they suffer an injury, there are times when no one is liable. In other cases, both parties might be at fault. There are also accidents that cause no injury or damages- a requirement to successfully win your injury claim. In fact to win a personal injury lawsuit you will have prove all of the following:

  • Someone owed you a duty of care.
  • They breached their duty.
  • The breach was the proximate cause of your injuries.
  • You have suffered injury or loss.

If any of the elements of your case are not present, you do not have a viable injury claim. You did not mention the specifics of your car accident, but it’s important to note that in some states claimants may not be eligible to recover damages if they are at fault in any way for their own injuries. Other states allow claimants to recover compensation if their fault is less than 50% or less than 51%.

  1. You will not be compensated for past injuries or property loss.

Insurance companies will not compensate you for past accidents, claims, lawsuits, or injuries caused by past workers’ compensation accidents. Although this probably does not pertain to your particular case, it’s important that you only request compensation for your most recent injuries.

This is especially important if you are dealing with an insurance company which may have access to all of your medical records, as well as databases with information about old injury and accident claims.

If you are dealing with an individual and seeking compensation the courts will require evidence about your current injuries, lost wages, and property loss. Don’t try to trick the courts.

  1. Each personal injury claim is unique.

Maybe your mother’s cousin had similar injuries as you do but they received more money from the insurance company. Unfortunately, although insurance companies have rules or guidelines for awarding compensation in an injury claim, companies are different, and there are a variety of factors which must be considered in each case.

  1. Personal injury lawyers will not take all injury cases.

Injury lawyers are paid on a contingency fee basis, which means they will receive a percentage of the amount awarded in damages (assuming you win your injury claim). If they do not win the case, they are generally not paid. For this reason, if you are attempting to sue someone who does not have insurance or assets it’s likely a lawyer will not take a case, even if your case is winnable.

  1. Most injury claims are settled out of court.

You want to take your case to court and fight it out? You probably won’t get the chance. In fact, most injury claims are settled out of court. The good news is that you and the lawyer generally have the same goal- to win as much money as possible to ensure that you are fully compensated.

While it’s important to find a lawyer willing to take your case to court if necessary, in many cases, after reviewing the risks, rewards and the amount of money likely to be recovered in court, many times a lawyer will decide that accepting a settlement will be in your best interest.

Bottom line:

While filing a personal injury claim may be possible, and in some cases is necessary, in most car accident claims you will be compensated by an insurance company.

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