There are countless ways you can suffer injuries in your everyday life. You and your family can enjoy a day in the water and suffer serious injuries from a faulty jet ski. You can end up slipping and falling while trying to exit a restaurant. A drunk driver might hit you while you are returning from a cookout.
Regardless of what happens, your life can change in a moment during one of these accidents. The law recognizes how serious and costly an accidental injury can be and allows you to seek compensation if someone else causes the accident. You often have two options to seek compensation – filing an insurance claim or filing a personal injury lawsuit. You want the right legal help with either route.
If you file a personal injury lawsuit, what can you sue for? Your personal injury attorney can evaluate your situation and advise you on the compensation you can seek for your situation.
Personal injuries can have serious effects on one’s body and mind. These injuries stem from accidents that result from another person’s wrongful or negligent actions. When such accidents happen, victims have the right to sue for reasonable damages. These damages should make the victim “whole” again after their accident.
The principle of compensation in personal injury centers around the concept of “being made whole.” This means you have the right to seek compensation for the harm and losses you suffered from a negligent party.
No one can turn back the clock and prevent injuries from happening, so the law compensates victims with money. Only through proper compensation can you truly move on from a personal injury and become “whole” again. It is a concept that helps victims and also holds negligent parties accountable for their roles in your accidents. Such accountability might prevent people from acting dangerously and causing injuries in the first place.
Negligence is a legal standard that determines a person’s liability in an accident. For a person or a party to be negligent in a personal injury claim, the injury victim must prove four elements.
The first element is that the person or party had to owe you a duty of care. That means that the person or party had to exercise a sense of reasonable care towards you, such as a driver following traffic laws to prevent accidents.
The second element is that there must be evidence of a breach of that duty of care. The person or party’s conduct violated their duty, such as by ignoring a traffic law. Choosing not to act is also an example of a breach of duty.
The third element is causation. You must prove that the negligent person or party’s breach of duty directly caused harm to you.
The final element is the damages that resulted from that negligent action. Damages refer to losses and costs resulting from your injuries. These damages also determine what you can sue for in your lawsuit.
The main purpose of filing a personal injury claim is to recover a legal remedy for the accident. This legal remedy is known as damages. The damages from a personal injury claim are financial forms of compensation you can receive for the harm you suffered in your accident.
Damages can vary widely and can involve both financial expenses and intangible losses. The common damages that many personal injury victims sue for are below.
After suffering a personal injury, you can sue for any medical expenses and bills you face. Injuries can require extensive treatment, and the cost of treatment is overwhelming in the United States. Even with insurance, medical expenses can bankrupt someone, so you must include all applicable expenses in your personal injury lawsuit.
Depending on your injuries, these costs might include:
Even if your health insurance has to cover some costs temporarily, you can still file a claim to recover compensation.
You might need ongoing medical treatment long after your lawsuit concludes, which means you must also seek future expenses. Your lawyer has tools to estimate your future medical bills, and you must include these in your lawsuit.
Another damage you can sue for in your personal injury case is any income you have lost due to your accident. Your accident can affect your income when your injuries require you to take time away from work. Recovering from your injuries can cause you to run out of vacation or sick time you did not plan to use.
Your injuries can also affect your ability to work in general. Many personal injury victims have to come to terms with the fact that they have to “retire” earlier than expected and rely on disability benefits because they can no longer physically or mentally complete their job duties. Victims might have to switch to a lower-paying job, losing significant earnings throughout their future careers. You can include both past and future lost income in your lawsuit.
You also have the right to sue for any pain and suffering you endured from your personal injury. A severe injury can cause you to suffer serious physical pain and mental anguish, and this pain and anguish can be costly and ongoing. For example, a truck accident victim can still experience nerve damage and chronic pain years after the accident happens. Victims might struggle with permanent disfigurement and need psychological treatment for years.
Although putting a dollar amount to a victim’s subjective pain is difficult, an experienced personal injury lawyer can help you determine what to seek. There are accepted methods of calculating pain and suffering depending on the severity of your injuries.
Another type of non-economic damage that you can sue for in your personal injury lawsuit is loss of enjoyment of life. You can list this damage when the quality of your life has severely decreased due to your accident.
This can happen to many injury victims, but particularly to victims with catastrophic injuries.
Such an injury can cause them to:
These are compensable losses in a personal injury lawsuit.
If you did not settle a separate property damage insurance claim, you might include property damage in your personal injury lawsuit. A car crash might be so severe that it totaled your car. You deserve full compensation for property damage as well as injury-related expenses.
Under the umbrella of personal injury law, you can file a wrongful death claim when your close family member’s death resulted from someone’s negligence. Losses vary from state to state, but they might include funeral expenses, lost income, lost household services, lost companionship, and more.
When determining the amount of compensation for your damages, you never want to calculate them yourself. As mentioned, many damages are non-economic or to compensate for future losses, and you need a legal professional to conduct these calculations.
There are several methods that a lawyer can use to determine the worth of your damages. Your lawyer can help ensure that the damages you list in your claim are reasonable and have supporting evidence. The insurance company will certainly never take your word for the value of your losses, and your attorney can prove them sufficiently.
Just like in all legal actions, there is a burden of proof that you and your lawyer will be responsible for meeting in your personal injury lawsuit. This burden of proof applies to all elements of negligence, including damages. You must prove your damage by a preponderance of the evidence to either a jury or judge.
To prove a preponderance of the evidence, you must demonstrate a 51 percent chance that the other party’s negligence caused your damages.
If you need to file a personal injury lawsuit, your lawyer can take the lead on the process. When you first consult with your lawyer, there may be damages from your accident that you were unsure about including in your claim.
After your consultation, you will have more clarity about what damages they will include and what each damage should be worth. If you decide to hire a lawyer, they can prepare and file your claim within the statute of limitations.
Just because you file a lawsuit does not mean you will have a judge or jury deciding your case. When the insurance company realizes you have legal representation and proof to back up your losses, they might be more willing to engage in reasonable settlement negotiations.
A lawyer can help assess all settlement offers and determine whether an offer is enough to cover all of your damages. Chances are the first offer is not. You must know when to reject a settlement offer because, if you accept an insufficient amount, you will have to cover your remaining damages out of your own pocket.
When the insurance company lowballs you, you do not have to accept it. A lawyer can counteract that offer with a greater offer that covers everything you need. Lawyers are skilled in negotiations with insurance adjusters and know how to assess the situation with your interests in mind. Insurance adjusters are often more open to negotiating with you when you and your lawyer are ready to take your lawsuit to trial.
If the insurance company does not agree to a settlement offer that covers your losses, your case will go to trial. At trial, the judge or jury will decide how much compensation you should receive.
Your personal injury lawyer should have adequate trial experience to persuasively present your case to the judge or jury. If they do, you will hopefully receive the full compensation you need.
If your lawyer is persuasive in court, the insurance company can still make a settlement offer before there is a verdict. Settlement negotiations can continue throughout the trial process, and cases commonly settle before hearing a verdict, as the parties have more control over the case’s outcome.
Many people think they can receive more money if they try to seek compensation without a lawyer. They have concerns over legal fees, but they should not worry.
Most personal injury lawyers represent their clients on a contingency fee basis. With a contingency fee, lawyers do not charge you an hourly fee or upfront retainer for their services.
You are not responsible for paying your attorney fees until you receive compensation for your personal injury case. Once you receive your compensation, your attorneys’ fees will come directly from your compensation. You should still have enough left over to cover your medical bills, lost income, and other losses.
This method helps lawyers represent victims who may not have the finances for quality legal representation. Never assume you cannot afford a lawyer – instead, seek a free consultation to learn about your options and how much you might sue for your injuries.
After suffering injuries in an accident, there are several types of damages that you can seek. Knowing how much to ask for requires experience with the personal injury process, which makes hiring a personal injury lawyer essential for your case. Do not wonder how much you can sue for – contact a personal injury attorney to evaluate your circumstances and provide the advice and representation you need.