If somebody else has inflicted personal injury on you with their negligent and otherwise wrongful actions, there is no need for you to suffer in silence. In fact, you may be entitled to pursue legal action in order to collect any damages you are owed. These damages can be monetary (e.g., medical expenses, lost wages, property damage, et cetera) and non-monetary (e.g., emotional suffering, significant loss of enjoyment of life, loss of consortium, et cetera).
However, it may be difficult to understand how to pursue a personal injury claim—or if you even have one at all. You may be asking yourself what the necessary factors are to determine whether or not your case is viable. If you have recently been a victim of personal injury inflicted on you by somebody else’s negligent actions, we at Injury Victim Law may be able to help you assess whether or not you have a case. Read on to find out more about the four primary elements of a personal injury claim.
First and foremost, every personal injury case is built on the existence of a duty of care. Duties of care vary on a case by case basis; however, no matter the context in which the personal injury occurred, the duty of care can simply be defined as the moral and/or legal obligation that one party owes to protecting another party’s safety and wellbeing. These duties are dependent upon both the type of accident and the parties involved. In the case of a car accident, for example, a driver may be deemed as having violated his duty of care to all others on the road by failing to operate their automobile in a safe, reasonable, and responsible manner that would reduce the risk of an accident. A property owner, furthermore, is purported to have a duty of care to maintain their property in a way that ensures that it remains in reasonably safe and hazard-free conditions for all those who enter.
The second element of a personal injury claim, then, must be a breach of the offending party’s duty of care. In order to have a viable case, you must prove that the defendant has breached their duty of care to you, the plaintiff. If the defendant has failed to “behave with the level of care that someone of ordinary prudence would have exercised under the same circumstances,” then their behavior may be deemed negligent. They may also be deemed guilty of negligence per se if they have violated a law meant to protect the public (e.g., speed limits, building codes, et cetera).
This brings us to the third element of a personal injury case: causation. This will be one of the most important elements of your case. It is not enough to simply prove that the defendant breached their duty of care by acting negligently; you must also prove that it was those negligent actions that caused your injuries. As the plaintiff, this burden of proof rests on your shoulders. This means it is up to you to prove that the other party caused your accident. This makes it vitally important for you to start documenting as much evidence as possible immediately following your accident. You will find that your smartphone is immensely handy in situations like these. It is harder to work retroactively, especially if you are working on your own, but it is not impossible. A good personal injury attorney may be able to help you retrace your steps and collect any evidence you may have missed. In some cases, they may even be able to help you recreate the conditions of the accident.
So, we are finally at the fourth and final element of a personal injury case: damages. At this point, you already know that you have to prove that (1) the defendant had a duty of care to you, (2) the defendant breached that duty of care to you, and that (3) this breach caused your accident and/or injury. At this point, there is one thing left to do: prove your damages. Once again, documentation will be key here. You should be keeping diligent records of your injuries beginning immediately after your accident, as soon as you realize that an injury exists. In fact, many injuries can lie dormant for some time before their effects are made known, so it may be useful for you to begin documenting even before you feel any effects—just in case they end up arising later. That way, you will have established a timeline of the effects of the accident.
Earlier in this blog post, we mentioned that damages can be both monetary and non-monetary. This means that you are able to demand compensation not just for your medical expenses, but also things like emotional suffering. Such damages are just as valid as monetary ones, so long as they negatively affect your quality of life. You may collect compensatory damages, which are damages designed to restore your losses in a way that effectively puts you back where you would have been had the accident not occurred. Punitive damages refer to those damages which are meant to punish the defendant for their negligence. These may be awarded to you if the defendant has acted in a way that has been especially egregious or outrageous.
If you have recently suffered a personal injury, our attorneys may be able to help. Though we are a Colorado-based firm, our team of experts and investigators can assist you no matter where you are located in the United States. Contact us today to schedule an initial consultation with one of our qualified nationwide personal injury lawyers. We will be happy to answer any questions you may have and put all your concerns to rest. Personal injury may have lifelong effects. We believe that you should never have to suffer for somebody else’s mistakes. We are here to fight for your rights and win you the damages you are rightfully owed.