What is a Personal Injury Claim?
People suffer injuries every day through no fault of their own. If you were injured as a result of someone else’s wrongful acts, either intentional or accidental, you may have a valid personal injury claim.
The two basic issues at stake in any personal injury claim are liability and damages. Liability involves determining who was legally at fault for the injuries you sustained. Damages are the legal measure of the nature and extent of your injuries. Damages in a personal injury case will be quantified as a dollar figure; unlike in criminal cases, personal injury claims do not result in punishment or jail time for the party that hurt you.
A personal injury claim can involve any wrongdoing by another party that resulted in harm to you. Some of the most common kinds of personal injury claims are:
- Construction Accidents
- Motorcycle Accidents
- Auto Accidents
- Slip and Fall
- Wrongful Death
- Dog Bite Injuries
Can I Make a Claim for Personal Injury?
Deciding to go forward with a personal injury claim requires a detailed analysis of the facts of your case. An experienced personal injury attorney can help you evaluate whether or not to pursue a lawsuit.
The first thing you need to do is take the time to recover from your injuries. The law requires you to mitigate your damages, which means that you need to take the necessary steps to recover and improve your physical condition. You’ll also have a much more accurate picture of your full damages after your recovery is complete. That said, you should contact an attorney as soon as possible after the accident occurs in order to begin the investigation of the facts and protect your interests.
You’ll also need to show that another party is responsible for your injuries. The main bases for personal injury claims are:
- Negligence: The other party had a duty to exercise reasonable care in their actions but failed to do so, resulting in your injury. A classic example of a negligence claim is an automobile accident, but most other personal injury claims fall in this category as well.
- Strict liability: Arising largely in cases involving injuries from defective products, strict liability cases do not require a showing of negligence. Rather, you just need to show that the product at issue was designed or manufactured in an unreasonably dangerous way.
- Intentional wrongdoing: Less common than negligence and strict liability cases, certain personal injury claims such as assault or battery can be brought when someone’s intentional conduct causes you harm. Often these actions may also be the subject of separate criminal proceedings.
Finally, you must be able to prove that you suffered damages. These might include lost wages, medical bills, or pain and suffering. It’s important to keep a detailed record of how your injuries have affected your day-to-day life, including any impact on your job, schooling, or family and social obligations.
How Long Does a Personal Injury Claim Take?
Every case is different. Some claims are much more complex than others and involve more serious injuries. Only after a full investigation of the circumstances can your attorney begin to give you a sense of how long your claim may take.
One of the biggest factors influencing the length of your case is whether you settle or insist on seeing your claim through trial. Some cases may settle in a matter of months, while others may take years to go to trial. You should be wary of any attorney who guarantees that your case will settle in a certain amount of time without examining all the details.
Generally speaking, personal injury cases will settle more quickly if you are willing to accept less money for your injuries. Insurance companies notoriously try to rush injured plaintiffs into quick settlements for small damages. It’s important to assess your injuries and give them time to heal before rushing to accept an offer.
If you resist the quick settlement, your attorney will gather and analyze all the relevant evidence, including police reports, witness statements, and medical records. Fact gathering can often take months, if not longer. The good news is, the more time you spend analyzing your claim, the more likely you are to receive a settlement that accurately compensates you for your injuries.
While most personal injury cases settle, some do go to trial. And even if you are awarded damages by the court, it may take time to actually recover your money from the party who injured you. It’s not unusual for the trial process to take years.
Deciding the proper route to maximum recovery is not something that’s easy to do on your own. An experienced personal injury attorney will analyze your case and help you every step of the way, whether your claim ends in settlement or goes to trial. The Law Offices of Justin D. Brandel are dedicated to aggressively pursuing your claim and have a proven track record of helping their clients recover the full compensation they deserve. If you’ve been injured and think you have a claim, contact Mr. Brandel today for a free consultation.