If you have been injured in a serious accident, you have likely wondered whether you are entitled to receive compensation for your injuries. Your right to sue after a car accident, slip and fall, or other severe accident is not automatic; rather, you must meet certain legal criteria to have a viable personal injury claim. You can begin analyzing your right to sue by considering the following three factors:
1. Did you suffer personal injuries?
To bring a personal injury lawsuit in addition to or instead of an insurance claim, you need to have suffered a personal injury. A personal injury can include damage to your body, emotions, or mental state. Property damage alone will not give rise to a personal injury action. For example, if you were involved in a car accident and broke your arm, you can file a personal injury claim if you meet other legal criteria. If instead your vehicle sustained damage, but you were unscathed, you would want to file an insurance claim or seek recovery in small claims court.
2. Were your injuries caused by another’s negligence?
Not all accidents with injuries will give rise to a personal injury action. To have a viable personal injury claim, you must show that your injuries were caused by the negligence of another person or entity. Negligence is generally defined as the failure to behave with a level of care that a reasonable person would under the same or similar circumstances. There are four elements of negligence that must be met in any personal injury action, including:
- Duty: The defendant had a legal duty to behave in a certain manner towards the plaintiff;
- Breach: The defendant breached that duty by failing to act in a certain way towards plaintiff;
- Causation: The defendant’s actions were the legal cause of the plaintiff’s injuries; and
- Damages: The plaintiff was injured as a result of the defendant’s actions and incurred damages.
In the case of a car accident, all drivers have a duty to drive in a reasonably safe manner. Evidence of negligence could include speeding, texting and driving, or failure to adhere to traffic laws.
3. Did you sustain damages?
To have a valid personal injury claim, you must have suffered personal or financial harms. Damages could encompass medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. The value of your case will depend, in part, on the extent of the damages you sustained. Contact a personal injury attorney for an evaluation of your potential personal injury case today.