If you’re hurt as the result of an accident or you’re injured by a defective product, you may be eligible to seek compensation for your medical bills, lost wages and pain and suffering. In order to do so, you will need to file a personal injury claim against the responsible party. A personal injury claim involves three key elements and it’s important that you understand what these components are to determine whether you may be entitled to damages.
The first component of a solid personal injury claim is liability. Liability means that someone else can be held legally responsible for an action that resulted in an injury. For example, if you’re injured as the result of a car accident, liability depends on whether the accident occurred due to negligence on the part of the other driver. Negligence refers to a failure to use reasonable care to prevent an injury or accident.
Liability applies to both individuals and organizations, such as companies that manufacture defective or harmful products. If you’re injured as the result of someone else’s negligence on their property, the doctrine of premises liability will apply in these situations. For example, if you slip and fall on a broken or damaged sidewalk and the property’s owner was aware of the potential for an accident but did not take steps to avoid it, they may be held liable for your injuries.
The second requirement of a personal injury claim is that you must have suffered some type of injury or sustained other damages. There are a wide variety of damages or injuries that you may be entitled to compensation for. These include:
- Physical injury
- Pain and suffering
- Permanent disability or impairment
- Lost wages
- Medical bills
- Mental anguish
- Loss of consortium
- Wrongful death
- Decrease in quality of life
Your personal injury lawyer can evaluate the facts of your case in order to help you determine what type of damages you may be entitled to and in what amount.
Finally, you must be able to recover the damages you’re entitled to for your injuries. When a judgment is entered against a defendant, it simply means that the court has deemed the person or entity financially responsible for the outcome of their actions. Additional action is needed in order to recover the judgment itself. If an individual or entity is financially unable to fulfill the terms of the judgment, you won’t be able to recover the money you’re entitled to until their circumstances change. For example, if you sue your neighbor for damages after their dog bites you, a judgment in your favor does not guarantee that you will recover your costs if they lack sufficient insurance or cash resources to pay your claim. The judgment will remain in place but it may take years for you to collect.
Whether your injuries were caused by a car accident, workplace incident, defective product or other circumstances involving negligence, it’s important that you speak with an experienced personal injury attorney to protect your rights. Your attorney can tell you whether you have grounds to file a personal injury claim and the potential for a successful outcome.