How to Win a Personal Injury Claim
Personal injury claims are among the most common cases at our law firm. Millions of Americans are hurt yearly, and the only thing more difficult than recovery can be getting the restitution you deserve.
While mild personal injuries may incur medical bills, lost wages and emotional damages, severe injuries can be permanently life-altering. In any case, you deserve to receive fair compensation for the suffering and losses that your injury has caused you and your loved ones.
Some people find themselves confused about what really classifies as a personal injury and whether they can sue another party for mental and/or emotional damages.
There is a time limit to file a personal injury claim if you have sustained an injury that causes physical, mental, and financial damages. There are usually one-year or two-year statutes of limitations from the time of the injury. You can also sue for emotional distress damages that have negatively impacted your life. It is very important to contact an attorney right away to learn the statute of limitations that applies to your type of injury. If you do not have your attorney file a claim within that time period, you lose your chance to file a claim and recover legally for that injury.
In this article, we will explore personal injury claims closely and offer advice on what you need to win a personal injury claim in court.
Understanding Personal Injury Claims From a Legal Perspective
The crux of any personal injury claim is evidence of damages and liability. The plaintiff, or person suing, is responsible for proving that the defendant, or party they’re suing, was responsible for their injury and resulting damages.
A personal injury attorney’s first course of action will be to understand your injury. How did it occur? What were the surrounding circumstances? Did the injury result from a lack or attentiveness and awareness on the other party’s behalf? What is the extent of the injury, cost of treatment needed, and other future or care needed?
The context of the injury is crucial because it determines whether or not your injury claim has legal ground.
While some personal injury claims stem from another person’s direct actions, many more result from negligence. Personal injuries can also result from product defects and medical malpractice.
In law, negligence is failing to exercise appropriate care toward another person. This care can range from basic awareness as a responsible driver to more comprehensive care from a doctor or healthcare provider.
For example, if someone experiences a slip-and-fall injury at a business after the floor was mopped, but there was no “wet floor” sign to indicate the risk, the business could be sued.
Car accident injuries make up the majority of personal injury cases, with many potential causes. The at-fault driver could have been negligent by driving under the influence, texting behind the wheel, speeding, or failing to follow the road rules.
As long as you can demonstrate that you have been injured due to negligence or direct intent to harm, you have a personal injury claim that can be filed and taken to court.
What qualifies as a personal injury?
Personal injuries can come from car accidents, medical malpractice, dog bites, slip-and-fall injuries, defective products, contractor negligence, and much more. Any event that ultimately harms you and leaves you physically, mentally, and/or financially for the worse can qualify as a personal injury.
The wrongful death of a loved one can also be classified as a personal injury claim. If you lost a relative due to medical negligence or malpractice, a driver’s negligence, or anyone else’s reckless or irresponsible behavior, you can speak with a lawyer about suing the at-fault party.
What are the damages?
After the claim’s legitimacy is established, your lawyer will work with you to determine what damages have taken place and which ones you can pursue compensation for. An injury has many financial impacts, ranging from lost wages to medical bills.
Some people experience life-long disabilities from an injury that will require permanent care and significant lifestyle modifications. They may no longer be able to work as they used to, or they could require assistive devices and home modifications.
You will also be able to make a claim and sue for emotional damages, which are the mental and emotional effects stemming from the trauma of the event and personal injury.
Ultimately, you can sue for both economic and non-economic damages. While money cannot undo your injury or replace the loss of a loved one’s life, it can make the burden of an injury or life without someone after a wrongful death easier.
It’s common to be unsure how much money you deserve or to sue for. A personal injury lawyer can help you determine a fair amount to ask for and justify the damages you seek based on specific damages incurred. It takes a while to determine the true value of a case. Will you need surgery? How long will you be off work? Details like this make it impossible for a responsible attorney to give you a quick case value over the phone.
Personal injury damages can cover the immediate costs of treating your injury and the long-term expenses you may incur. Someone who cannot work for months as they heal will need more than just medical bill coverage for their injuries; likewise, a person who is now unable to support themselves or their family as they used to may seek compensation for the negative impact their injury will have on their quality of life.
Strategies for Winning a Personal Injury Claim
At Baker, Burton & Lundy, we work closely with each client to fully understand their injury and help them build the most robust case. Below are some of the top strategies we recommend if you are considering filing a personal injury claim.
1. Recount the Incident Honestly With Your Attorney
The most significant mistake people make when filing a personal injury claim is failing to be 100% transparent with their lawyer. They may worry that their case will fall through because of specific actions they took at the time of the injury. However, you will ultimately be disadvantaged if you omit essential details from your argument. Even small details that you don’t believe are important can make a difference.
During the court hearing, the party you are suing will recount their version of events leading up to the injury. The defense will raise any questions that arise from this recount, and your lawyer cannot deny any accounts that may be true.
By being entirely forthcoming about the event, including any role you played in your injury, you can help your attorney build a strong case that won’t collapse under the defense’s counterargument.
It’s possible your character may come under attack during the defense’s argument; by opening up to your lawyer, they can more easily counter any claims against you.
2. Avoid Discussing the Case With Other People
Naturally, you may want to talk about what happened, but avoid revealing any details about your injury with third parties. Details may get back to the defendant and their legal team, which could come out in court.
Avoid commenting about the defendant or the event as you pursue legal compensation. Instead, reserve discussions about what happened to your lawyer’s office or phone calls with your attorney.
While this can be difficult to do, it’s in your case’s best interest to avoid disclosing any details that may be misrepresented and used against you in court.
Avoid Posting on Social Media
It is very important to not post about your case and to be very careful about posting activities. If you claim you were hurt in a car accident, and post photos on a ski trip it will provide evidence to the other side that you were not hurt badly. Believe us, the other side will look for any social media and public information about you.
3. Document as Much Evidence as You Can
Build a solid paper trail to support your claim, from medical records and bills to notes from a therapist detailing the extent of your emotional suffering. Incident reports from police, photos of the injury and accident site, insurance forms, and additional medical data like lab work or diagnoses reports are all excellent examples of evidence in a personal injury case.
Eyewitness statements can also be helpful. You may request these in writing from any reputable individual who was there at the time of your injury. Ensure they include as much detail as possible and that their story aligns with your account of the incident.
5. Be Mindful of Insurance Providers
Refrain from accepting a settlement from your insurance provider; file a claim so you have evidence, but do not talk with them at length about the experience. You can refer any provider to your lawyer until you settle the case.
Insurance is valuable protection but may not give you the full financial coverage you deserve. In some cases, insurance companies may even deliberately try to get someone to take responsibility for an accident rather than pay for damages.
6. Stick to Your Story
Civil court takes time, and you can become discouraged. However, you can win if you are upfront about your case. Focus on healing, taking care of yourself, and trusting a qualified attorney who’s working tirelessly for your best interest.
Having a trusted personal injury lawyer can make a world of difference in how you feel during the case; their guidance and support can be invaluable as you work toward getting the compensation you deserve.
Emotionally charged events like experiencing an injury can make it harder to remember all the details at once; more may come back to you as time passes. We advise clients to start a journal to track their injuries and symptoms. Be sure to share any new insights you acquire with your lawyer throughout your case.
7. Discuss All Possible Outcomes, and Develop a Plan B
Sometimes you may agree to accept a settlement offer rather than take your case to court. And this can be a good outcome for many clients. A settlement can be a very good outcome if it is appropriate because there will be no appeal and the case is over. In other cases, you may set out for a settlement only to find the other party is adamant on fighting your claim in front of a judge and jury.
Make sure you explore all the potential scenarios with your lawyer, so you’ll feel prepared no matter what happens.
Being proactive can also help you stay level-headed and avoid making any impulsive choices to get the entire ordeal over with. You must remain committed to your desired outcome, especially when you’re seeking restitution for damages another party caused.
Do I need a personal injury lawyer?
Your personal injury lawyer is there to provide counsel and support and help you navigate the complex legal system. Although you can file a claim by yourself, doing so can be a complex and an emotionally draining process.
You have already experienced an injury and all the stress of its effects. Rather than put yourself through greater suffering, it’s better to let an experienced attorney handle all the problematic aspects of the process.
If the party you’re suing has a lawyer (and they likely will), fighting the battle alone can be highly challenging. Hiring a lawyer can give you peace of mind as you recover. With their experience and knowledge, building a solid case that proves your right to legal compensation is much easier.
Tips for Hiring a Personal Injury Attorney
The first step in finding a personal injury lawyer is researching legal firms near you. Ensure that any attorney you find is licensed to work in your jurisdiction. They should also specialize in injury claims; this is crucial because it ensures they understand even the most intricate details of the legal system that a defense could potentially use against you. Asking a trusted friend for a referral is also helpful.
What’s more, their expertise can also help hasten the process. Rather than lose months on end doing grueling research, you can count on their professional knowledge and skill set to help you pursue your case quickly.
Hiring a personal injury attorney aims to simplify the legal process so you can get back to living your life.
At Baker, Burton & Lundy, we are here to provide continuous support to every client in their time of need. Our job is to ensure that your case is thoroughly prepared and to aggressively pursue justice for any wrongs committed against you.
We want to help you avoid further stress and confusion by making the law easy to understand. We fight on your side to solve your problems as soon as possible. With decades of experience, significant jury verdicts, and many multi-million-dollar claims settled, we are confident in our work and equally passionate about helping our clients.
If you would like to schedule a time to speak with one of our attorneys, please complete our contact form, or give us a call at (310) 376-9893.
Please Note: This document does not constitute legal advice. Please consult an attorney for legal advice on what to do in a particular situation.