Do I have a Personal Injury Case?
In my 19 year career as a lawyer spent entirely on handling personal injury cases, I cannot tell you how many times I have received a call with the caller simply asking, “Do I have a case?”. This is not an easy question to answer and one in which many factors come into play. In fact, many times, I cannot answer this question immediately as a potential case requires investigation into how the incident occurred, whether the negligent person/company has insurance and whether the injuries and damages are significant enough to present to a jury. I will try to break down the basics of a personal injury case below. As with any legal guide, it is almost impossible to include all information in written form so if you have any further questions or comments, please call my law firm at 561-266-9191 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
3 basic elements of a personal injury case:
In order to pursue a personal injury case against someone or a company, you need to be able to prove that the person/company was at fault or was negligent in causing your injuries. For example, if you slip and fall on a puddle of water that a company left in the aisle for hours, that company may be negligent for leaving the water in its aisle. However, if you trip and fall over your own shoelaces there really is no one else to blame for your fall but yourself.
Many times, we will need to conduct an investigation into liability to determine if someone was at fault. Using that same puddle of water example, if we determine that the water was a problem at the store because it was leaking from an A/C unit for months and several other people fell in the same spot, your case becomes even stronger. In another example, in a car crash in an intersection, we may have to try to find witnesses to the crash to confirm that you had the green light. If those witnesses, however, confirm to us that you, in fact, had the red light, it would be very hard to pursue a case for you. It is crucial in any potential personal injury case that you obtain names and information of any person that may have witnessed your accident.
2. Insurance coverage
Insurance coverage is NOT an absolute requirement for a viable personal injury case. You may still sue the person or company that caused your injury and obtain a Judgment against them and then try to collect that Judgment through a collection proceeding. Although this is possible, having insurance on the other side does make your case much more viable as the insurance company will normally try to settle your case first and, if not successful in settling the case, the insurance company will pay the Judgment after a jury has rendered a verdict in your favor.
The final basic element to a personal injury case is damages/injury. If you were rear ended in a car crash but were lucky and did not suffer any injuries, you do not have a personal injury case.
In fact, in most car accident cases, in many States, including Florida, you will need to prove that you have a PERMANENT INJURY prior to being able to recover damages for pain and suffering. If you are not able to prove you have a permanent injury, you may only be able to recover your past and future medical bills and lost wages.
It is imperative, if you wish to pursue a personal injury case, that you seek medical attention and talk to your physicians about your injuries. If you fail to seek medical attention and wait for months before going to a doctor, your case may be affected as a jury and/or the insurance company may not feel that you were injured because you waited so long to go to a doctor.
Again, the above 3 elements of a personal injury case are only the tip of the iceberg. There are many other factors involved that determine (1) whether you have a case and (2) how much you case is worth. Many times, the value of your case will not be determined until you have completed your medical treatment as no one knows what your injuries are until the doctors render a final opinion.
Please feel free to contact my office at 561-266-9191 or email us at email@example.com.