How Do I Know If I Have a Personal Injury Claim?
If you or a loved one has suffered a severe injury from an accident, then you may have a personal injury claim. However, personal injury claims can vary depending on circumstances.
The only way to know for certain that you have a personal injury claim is to talk to an experienced personal injury attorney. Your attorney will be able to go through specific information about you unique situation.
Here are some basics to personal injury claims.
Basic Personal Injury Claim Requirements
Just because you have been injured does not necessarily mean that you have a personal injury case. You will have to prove the following elements for a successful personal injury claim:
1. Another party was at fault. Usually the reason that the other party was at fault was because they were acting carelessly or negligently in some fashion.
2. The careless party actually caused the injury. It doesn’t matter if the injuries did not occur right away. For example, if you get headaches after the accident, then these would likely be caused by the accident.
3. The injury caused harm. There must be some sort of compensable damage. That can include personal injuries, but it can also include property damage or lost wages.
A Quick Example
Imagine that you are sitting at a red light at a busy intersection. The light turns green, so you begin to accelerate. As you enter the intersection, another driver passes through the intersection against the red light and hits your car on the passenger side.
Your air bag deploys and you hit the side of your head against the driver’s side window. You have a head injury. You are taken to the hospital where they run several tests.
Although there isn’t any permanent, significant damage, you still rack up several hundred dollars in medical bills.
Now, we will examine this situation based on our three requirements for a valid personal injury case. In this case, you have all three elements of a personal injury claim.
1. The party who hit you entered the intersection unnecessarily. They violated a traffic law when they hit your car. They are clearly at fault, and you were doing nothing illegal.
2. The other driver who hit you caused your air bag to deploy and you to hit your head against the window. If the other driver did not hit you, then you would have not hit the driver’s side window. It is clear that the at-fault party caused the injury.
3. Lastly, your injury resulted in harm. You not only suffered pain from the head injury, you now also have to pay medical bills.
This situation is a perfect example of a personal injury case. Although your case may not be as clear, an experienced attorney can walk through each element to be sure that you have a valid personal injury claim
Proving Your Personal Injury Claim
If you think you might have a personal injury claim, you should always have documentation of your injuries and other information about the case.
This documentation is how your attorney will prove that you are entitled to compensation in court or during settlement negations. If you simply say that you are in pain, then this will not be enough to prove damages.
To prove that the other party was a fault in a car accident, for example, you and your attorney may need to work together to present the following:
- Your testimony about what happened
- Witness testimony
- Traffic sign and light information
- Weather information
- Police reports
To prove that the negligent party caused the injury and that the injury actually caused harm, you and your attorney will need to present a different set of evidence. The following is a quick list of evidence that you might need.
- Medical records
- Evidence of missed work
- Income information
- Property loss information (damage to the vehicle, damage to real estate, etc.)
- Emotional distress evidence (evidence of attending therapy, taking sleeping medication, etc.)
An experienced personal injury attorney will be able to evaluate your situation to determine if you have claim. He or she will then be able to tell you what type of evidence you need to best present your case.