You may be considering legal action if you’ve been injured in a car accident, slip and fall accident, or other accident caused by someone else’s negligence or carelessness.
It may be tempting to wonder if pursuing compensation for your injuries is worthwhile and, if so, whether you should hire a personal injury attorney to handle your accident and injury claim.
Your accident or injury case may be influenced by a variety of factors, including:
Table of Contents
Was There Negligence
Negligence is an essential factor to consider when pursuing a personal injury case. It is the failure to use reasonable care, which can be intentional or unintentional, depending on your accident or injury circumstances. When negligence is established in a personal injury case, one party is responsible for causing harm to another due to careless actions or inactions.
The concept of negligence plays a vital role in determining who is liable for damages caused by an accident or injury. In most cases, if someone’s negligent behavior contributed to the cause of your injuries, you may be entitled to financial compensation from them. You must understand how negligence works to determine whether it applies to your situation and what steps must be taken next.
The four elements that must exist to prove negligence occurred in a personal injury claim:
- The duty of care owed by one person toward another
- Breach of that duty
- Causation between the breach and harm suffered
- Actual damages resulting from suffering injury from the breach
If any of these elements are missing, then there cannot be a liability for negligently inflicted harm sustained by another individual through no fault of their own.
Duty of Care
Duty of care is the legal obligation that a person or entity has to act reasonably and take reasonable steps to ensure the safety of others. In the context of personal injury cases, one party must take all reasonable precautions to avoid causing harm to another person. When the duty of care is breached, an injured party may be able to receive compensation for damages suffered as a result. It is essential to understand that the duty of care owed by one person to another varies depending on the circumstances surrounding the accident or injury.
Breach of Duty
It is called a breach of duty if someone does not take reasonable steps to keep you safe. When this happens, the person who did not follow their duty may be responsible for any harm caused. For a breach of duty to be established, it must be proven that the at-fault party owed you a duty of care and that they failed to meet this standard.
Causation is an essential concept in a personal injury case. It is the link between negligence and the injury suffered by an accident victim. For a personal injury case to proceed, it must be established that negligence directly caused or contributed to a claimant’s injury. Medical testimony must support causation in a personal injury claim.
A plaintiff in Florida is burdened with demonstrating actual harm, such as a personal injury or property destruction. Someone who suffers an economic loss can only be compensated when they have established non-economic damages, like pain and suffering.
When it comes to compensatory damages, a defendant must reimburse the plaintiff for all losses, which encompasses past, present, and prospective damages as well as economic (medical costs, etc.) and non-economic (pain and suffering) ones.
Two major factors will likely influence the amount of your settlement: the type of injuries you suffered in the accident and the severity of those injuries. The more serious the injuries are and the more significant their impact on your quality of life, the higher the settlement you will receive.
A pre-existing condition refers to a medical illness or injury that existed before the occurrence of a personal injury. Regarding personal injury claims, pre-existing conditions can be relevant since they can affect the severity and extent of the injury sustained.
The accident might aggravate a pre-existing back injury and cause additional injuries or pain for a person who had a pre-existing back injury. In this situation, the insurance company or the defendant in the personal injury case may argue that the plaintiff’s injuries were not caused by the accident but rather by a pre-existing condition.
However, it does not necessarily mean a person cannot recover damages for a pre-existing condition in a personal injury case. For example, the plaintiff may still be entitled to compensation for any additional harm caused by the accident, even if the accident worsened or exacerbated the pre-existing condition.
The impact of a pre-existing condition on a personal injury case depends on the case’s specific circumstances, which require a thorough analysis of medical records and all other evidence.
Short-term vs. Long-term vs. Permanent Injuries
It is generally considered a short-term injury when an injury heals within a few weeks or months without long-term consequences. Examples of short-term injuries include minor cuts, bruises, or sprains. Compensation for short-term injuries typically covers medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering during recovery.
Long-term injuries last for an extended period, often months or years, and may require ongoing medical care. They include broken bones, severe burns, and spinal cord injuries. Long-term injury compensation can include:
- Past and future medical expenses.
- Lost wages and earning capacity.
- Pain and suffering in personal injury cases.
The term permanent injury refers to injuries that result in permanent impairment or disability. Examples of permanent injuries include paralysis, brain damage, and limb loss. Compensation for permanent injuries may consist of:
- Past and future medical expenses.
- Lost wages and earning capacity.
- Compensation for permanent disability and loss of quality of life.
An injury’s severity and permanence play a significant role in determining compensation in personal injury cases. Therefore, it is essential to consult with an experienced personal injury attorney who can assess the extent of the injury and its impact on the victim’s life and help them seek the appropriate level of compensation.
Whether or not you can work
After an accident, a person’s work level can significantly impact their personal injury case. As it affects economic and non-economic damages, the ability to work is vital in determining how much compensation a victim may receive in a personal injury lawsuit.
Medical bills, lost wages, and decreased earning capacity are among the monetary losses the victim suffers from the accident. In addition, pain and suffering, emotional distress, and loss of enjoyment of life are examples of non-economic damages.
Suppose an accident results in a victim being unable to work or only able to work at a reduced capacity. In that case, they may be entitled to compensation for lost wages, lost earning capacity, and other economic damages. However, if a victim can still work, even with limitations or in a different capacity, they may not be entitled to as much compensation for lost wages or earning capacity.
Based on several factors, including the severity of the injury, the type of work the victim performs, and the availability of alternative employment, the level of work, a person can do after an accident will affect their personal injury case. A personal injury attorney can assess the case’s unique circumstances and help the victim recover the appropriate amount for economic and non-economic damages.
The severity of the property damage
Another factor affecting a personal injury lawsuit is the compensation a victim may receive depending on the severity of property damage following an accident. The victim may be entitled to more compensation for the cost of repairs or replacement of the damaged property if the damage is substantial, such as when a vehicle is totaled. Examples of possible property damage elements in a personal injury case include:
- Costs associated with repairing or replacing a car or other property
- Damaged property or vehicle rental costs
- Damaged property storage fees
- Damaged vehicle towing fees
- Items in the car that were damaged during the accident, such as clothing or electronic devices
- The accident caused damage to real property, such as a fence or building
- Accidental loss of business property or inventory
- Damage to business equipment or property that results in a loss of income or profits
- Accident-related devaluation of property
Furthermore, the severity of the property damage can influence the amount of fault assigned to the parties involved in the accident. Therefore, property damage can sometimes be used as evidence to determine which party was at fault. For example, suppose one vehicle sustains significant damage while the other has only minor damage. In that case, it may suggest that the driver of the more severely damaged vehicle was not at fault for the accident.
Your Medical Bills and Care
Medical treatment you have already received or will need in the future to recover from your accident and injury is another common factor in determining your settlement. Therefore, medical bills are often included as damages.
If you are injured in an accident, you should receive compensation for all reasonable and necessary medical expenses related to your treatment. In addition, in cases of long-term disability caused by an accident, a settlement may include money to compensate you for future medical bills you will incur for future and long-term medical care.
An insurance company may pay more for your medical expenses than for pain and suffering in small personal injury cases.
In more significant personal injury cases, your pain and suffering damages will usually outweigh your medical bills.
In some states, the at-fault party’s insurance company has to pay your total charged medical bills. This often leads to larger settlements.
Other states, such as Florida, only allow you to recover compensation for out-of-pocket medical expenses (and amounts paid by your insurance company).
Florida, for example, is one of many states with mandatory personal injury protection/ (PIP) after a car accident.
The total settlement will likely be smaller since out-of-pocket medical bills will likely be lower.
The following factors also determine personal injury settlements:
- Out-of-pocket expenses
- If any of the 11 potential defendants receive a credit of up to $10,000 for having PIP, the settlement value would be reduced.
- Whether the jury hears the total billed charges (or just the amount paid).
Ultimately, working with a qualified personal injury attorney who understands all relevant laws can help ensure you get the maximum possible award based on your unique circumstances.
Insurance policy limits
An insurance policy can significantly impact a personal injury case. A policy is a contract between the policyholder and the insurance company. The policy can cover damages or injuries caused by an accident. In a personal injury case, the insurance policy may affect the compensation that the victim is entitled to receive in several ways:
- Policy limits: It is important to note that insurance policies limit the coverage they provide, which may affect the compensation the victim can receive, particularly if the damages incurred are higher than the policy limits.
- Duty to defend: Insurance policies often include a duty of defense in case of a lawsuit against the policyholder. In a personal injury case, the insurance company may provide legal representation for the policyholder, thereby affecting the victim’s ability to negotiate a settlement or receive fair compensation.
- Settlement negotiations: Insurance companies often negotiate personal injury settlements on their policyholders’ behalf. The insurance company may be primarily concerned with minimizing their financial exposure, resulting in lower settlement offers for accident victims.
- Subrogation rights: The insurance company may have subrogation rights if it pays out a claim to a policyholder for damages caused by someone else. In other words, the insurance company can reimburse the responsible party for the damages it paid out.
An insurance policy can significantly affect a personal injury case by affecting a victim’s compensation, the type of legal representation available, the settlement negotiations, and the insurance company’s subrogation rights. Therefore, consulting with an experienced personal injury attorney who can review the insurance policy and assess its impact on the case is essential.
How much evidence is available
The amount of evidence available in a personal injury case can significantly impact the outcome of a case. An amount of evidence can influence the outcome of a personal injury case in several ways. For example, it can prove liability, establish the facts of the case, and determine the extent of the victim’s damages.
Evidence can prove who was at fault for the accident that caused the injuries. Examples include eyewitness testimony, video footage, and police reports. However, establishing a case can be challenging if there is not enough evidence to prove liability, and the victim may not receive the compensation they deserve if there is little or no evidence.
Medical records, bills, and expert reports can determine a victim’s damages. These documents can assist in determining the extent of injuries and the cost of treatment. However, it may be difficult to prove the extent of the victim’s damages without proper evidence, and the victim may not receive the appropriate compensation.
The available evidence can affect the parties’ bargaining power during settlement negotiations. For example, when there is strong evidence to prove liability and damages, a victim may have a better chance of negotiating a fair settlement. Conversely, the insurance company or defendant may be less willing to offer a fair settlement if there is little or no evidence.
To support the victim’s case, it is crucial to gather as much evidence as possible, including witness statements, photographs, police reports, and medical records. Then, the victim’s rights can be advocated for by an experienced personal injury attorney who can evaluate the evidence, build a strong case, and build a strong case.
Filing Your Case in Court
As a result of filing a personal injury lawsuit in court, the at-fault party is more likely to agree to a settlement. It can benefit both parties to reach an agreement before litigation begins in an accident or injury case because it can be both time-consuming and costly.
Filing a lawsuit in court usually involves costs, but it also lets the at-fault party know you are serious about pursuing a lawsuit. To avoid spending significant time and money defending an injury accident case, this move can pressure the other side to make their best and final offer.
Pros of settling a personal injury claim out of court:
- Faster Resolution
- Reduced Stress
- Straightforward Process
- Save on Legal Fees
Possible cons of settling a personal injury claim out of court:
- Lower Compensation
- Insurer May Prolong Process
- Permanent Settlement
- Limited Access to Punitive Damages
Possible benefits of going to court for a personal injury claim:
- Jury verdicts are often more significant than pretrial settlement offers
- Holding the at-fault party responsible
- A neutral party will help resolve your case
- Availability of punitive damages
Drawbacks of going to court for a personal injury case:
- Uncertainty of outcome
- Lengthy litigation process
- Litigation can be costly
- Trials become a matter of public record
- Must establish a burden of proof
Filing a personal injury lawsuit in court can benefit the victim by putting pressure on the at-fault party to make a fair settlement. However, it has drawbacks and may result in higher legal fees or uncertainty of outcome. Therefore, it’s essential to consider all aspects before filing a lawsuit in court. Consulting an experienced attorney who can help evaluate your case from both sides should always be considered.
Hiring an Accident and Injury Lawyer
Hiring an experienced personal injury lawyer can make a huge difference when filing and pursuing a personal injury claim. An attorney specializing in this area of law understands the nuances of the legal system, how to negotiate with insurance companies, and how to maximize compensation for victims.
With the knowledge and experience of an injury attorney, they can help you navigate the complexities of your case, build a strong argument on your behalf, and fight for justice.
Here are some ways a lawyer can help you with a personal injury case:
- Legal Expertise: A personal injury lawyer can assist the victim throughout the legal process by providing legal guidance, advising them on their rights, and explaining complex legal procedures.
- Investigations: A personal injury lawyer can assist with investigating the accident and gathering evidence to support the victim’s claim. This includes gathering witness statements, obtaining medical records, and working with accident reconstruction specialists.
- Settlement Negotiations: A personal injury lawyer can negotiate with a defendant’s insurance company or legal team on behalf of the victim to ensure the victim receives fair compensation.
- Court Representation: A personal injury lawyer can represent the victim in court if a settlement cannot be reached. They can present the evidence and arguments to the judge and jury and advocate for the victim’s rights.
- Contingency Fees: Often, personal injury lawyers work on a contingency fee basis, which means they only receive a payment if the victim receives compensation.
Experience and Skill Matters
When choosing a personal injury lawyer, experience and skill are of utmost importance. An experienced attorney specializing in this area of law can provide invaluable legal guidance, advice on rights and responsibilities, and negotiate with insurance companies or legal teams on the victim’s behalf.
A skilled personal injury lawyer can also investigate the accident thoroughly, gather evidence to support the claim, present compelling arguments in court if needed, and advocate for fair compensation from the responsible parties. With an experienced lawyer at your side throughout the process, you stand a better chance of getting justice for your case.
Contact Shiner Law Group for your Personal Injury Case Today
If you or a loved one has been the victim of an accident and become injured through no fault of your own, speak with a personal injury lawyer at Shiner Law Group today.
At Shiner Law Group, we offer the Shiner Free Guarantee, which means you pay nothing out of pocket, and we only get paid if we win your case. So contact us today at (800) 364-4444 or fill out our free online case evaluation form to discuss the details of your accident case today.