Posted in Personal Injury on April 10, 2019
A personal injury lawsuit is a type of civil claim one party files against another for damages incurred due to the defending party’s actions. For example, a car accident could lead to needing a personal injury lawyer, if the at-fault driver was negligent in such a way that caused the accident. A shop owner could face liability for a slip and fall if he or she forgot to mark a wet floor or another known hazard. In any situation in which one party sustains injuries or other damages due to the actions of another party, the injured party typically has the option to file a personal injury claim against the at-fault party.
Elements of Negligence in Personal Injury Lawsuits
To succeed with a personal injury claim, a plaintiff’s attorney must prove several elements of negligence to secure compensation for the plaintiff’s losses. Negligence is the central concept of any personal injury case, and a plaintiff’s attorney must prove four elements of negligence to succeed with a personal injury lawsuit.
- First, the plaintiff’s attorney must prove the defendant owed a duty of care to the plaintiff.
- Next, the plaintiff’s attorney needs to prove how the defendant breached or violated this duty of care to the plaintiff.
- The plaintiff must have incurred an injury or some measurable loss to proceed with a personal injury claim. The plaintiff’s attorney must prove the full extent of the plaintiff’s claimed damages.
- Finally, the plaintiff’s attorney must link the defendant’s negligence to the plaintiff’s claimed damages, proving those damages only occurred due to the defendant’s negligence or proving they would not have occurred but for the defendant’s negligence.
Guilt beyond a reasonable doubt is the standard of proof for a criminal case, but this standard is much lower in a civil case for a personal injury claim. It is possible for a person to face both criminal and civil legal proceedings for the same event. The defendant could potentially avoid criminal charges in the case from the state prosecution while still facing liability for the civil case, or face charges for both cases, or avoid charges for both cases.
Damages and Compensation
The plaintiff in a personal injury lawsuit can secure compensation for any and all damages resulting from a defendant’s negligence. Damages are also essential for filing a personal injury lawsuit in the first place; since no damages equals no basis for a claim.
Plaintiffs can potentially secure several types of damage compensation from a successful personal injury lawsuit.
- Medical expenses, both immediate and future resulting from the defendant’s actions.
- Lost income for any time the plaintiff could not work due to his or her injuries from the defendant’s actions. A plaintiff may also win compensation for lost future earnings if he or she can no longer work due to a permanent disability the defendant’s negligence caused.
- Property damages for any personal property damaged or destroyed by the defendant’s negligence.
- Pain and suffering compensation for the victim’s physical pain, emotional distress, and mental suffering resulting from a defendant’s negligence.
- Punitive damages, typically assigned to defendants who displayed egregious negligence or engaged in any criminal acts that resulted in the plaintiff’s claimed damages.
The scope of damages available in a personal injury claim could be more extensive than a plaintiff realizes at first. For example, after suffering a broken leg in a car accident with a drunk driver, the injured victim may know he or she can sue for medical expenses for the broken leg and repair costs to his or her vehicle.
An attorney can help determine additional avenues of compensation like lost wages from missed time at work and coordinate expert witness testimony to support a claim for emotional damages. Hiring a personal injury attorney can not only increase a plaintiff’s chances of success with a civil lawsuit but also lead to more compensation than he or she initially anticipated.