Lots of people have preconceived notions about how personal injury cases work. Not all accidents, injuries, or claims will lead to a personal injury case. Negligence plays the greatest role, but even that isn't always enough by itself to prove anything. Here's how you can tell if you may have a valid case.
Personal Injury Cases are All about Blame
To start with, personal injury cases are all about who holds the most liability in an accident. That means it's imperative that you prove you have little (if any) blame, and the other party has most or all the blame. However, proving negligence isn't just about pointing the finger.
There are elements of negligence. Without fulfilling all those elements, then you typically cannot make a claim.
The Elements of Negligence
Negligence itself means someone didn't show the appropriate level of care. Because of their inattention, mismanagement, or lack of proper procedure, damage of some sort occurred. To prove that, you must satisfy these separate parts of a negligence claim.
Duty of care – Someone must have a responsibility towards you in some way. For example, a driver has a duty to follow the laws and rules of the road. A doctor has a duty to follow established procedures. A store owner may have a duty to keep their part of the sidewalk free of hazards.
Breach of duty – If someone violates their duty of care, then it's a breach of duty. To continue with the previous examples:
- A driver on their phone while driving
- A doctor skipping established steps in an operation
- A store owner that lets garbage and debris pile up on the sidewalk
Each of these represents a breach of duty.
Injury from the breach – The breach of duty must cause you an injury of some type.
- Inattention causes a car accident that injures you
- A botched surgery that leaves you partially blinded
- Tripping over debris and hitting your head on the sidewalk
Problems from the injury – The injury alone isn't enough. It has to cause you real, verifiable problems. If you suffer a scratch with no lasting harm, then you won't have a viable personal injury case. You have to suffer quantifiable damages that an insurance company or court can put a dollar amount to.
- A car accident leaves you out of work for weeks, and there are medical bills
- Partial blindness causes you to leave your job and makes life harder for you
- Hitting your head creates medical bills and bouts of headaches that interfere with your quality of life
You have to satisfy each of these elements to have a valid personal injury case. It's not always easy, and it's never a good idea to attempt it on your own. A personal injury attorney like those at Littman & Babiarz Law Office can help you prove each element so you can present your claim in the best possible light.