After a serious accident, you may find yourself in question of whether or not you are entitled to receive monetary compensation for your sustained injuries. One of the top questions we are asked by new clients is if they should file a personal injury lawsuit, an insurance claim, or both.
A personal injury lawsuit is a lawsuit filed by an injured person against the negligent person or entity in an effort to recover money for their injuries and other losses derived from the accident.
1.) Did you suffer personal injury and not just property damage?
2.) Were your injuries caused by the negligence of another person or entity?
3.) Do you have recoverable damages?
If your answer to all three of the questions is “yes,” you may be able to obtain financial compensation for your injuries by filing a personal injury lawsuit.
You should know, however, that there are many contributing factors that dictate the outcome of a personal injury lawsuit. While this article serves as a general guide as to whether or not you have a valid personal injury lawsuit, it is not intended to replace the advice of a licensed attorney, and therefore we encourage you to contact our office right away to speak with an experienced Las Vegas car accident attorney for an in-person consultation.
Although it may sound like a no-brainer, to successfully file a valid personal injury lawsuit or claim, you must have actually experienced an injury from the accident. A personal injury is considered an injury to your body or mind; therefore it can be either physical or psychological.
The difference between personal injury and property damage
We are often asked by our clients what the difference between a personal injury and property damage claim is. To illustrate the difference: if you were involved in a minor car accident that caused minimal damage to your automobile, and you suffered no physical or psychiatric damage, you have experienced property damage and not personal injury. In this scenario, the insurance company or a small claims court may provide compensation in exchange for damages.
For example, if you fell and broke your arm while shopping at Target, you’d have a valid basis for filing a personal injury claim. Additionally, if you’ve experienced anxiety or stress following a minor car accident, you’d have suffered personal injury.
To file a successful personal injury claim, your injuries must have been caused by the negligence of another person or entity (business, corporation, or government). Typically speaking, when another person or entity acts in a negligent or careless manner and causes injury or harm to another person or entity, the negligent party is presumably legally accountable or (“liable”) for the injury or injuries sustained under the principle of “negligence.”
The law recognizes negligence as the failure to act with the level of care that any other person or entity would have exercised under the same set of circumstances.
That said, there are four (4) important components to factor into a negligence claim:
In any personal injury claim, the injured party (plaintiff) must establish that the negligent party (defendant) acted negligently by proving:
- Duty: The negligent party had a duty to act/react a certain way toward the plaintiff under the circumstances;
- Breach: The defendant breached that duty by engaging in negligent behavior;
- Causation: The action or inaction of the defendant was the leading cause of the plaintiff’s injury; and
- Damages: The plaintiff sustained injury as a result of the actions or inaction of the defendant.
In order to determine if you have recoverable damages, you must evaluate whether you have suffered personal or financial damage that can be remedied by monetary compensation.
Medical bills incurred from treatment of your injuries;
Physical pain, emotional suffering, and mental strain caused by your injury;
Lost wages because you could not work, or adequately perform your job, due to your injury;
Disability equipment required for your automobile or home as a result of injury;
Decrease in quality of life;
Loss of companionship / relationship due to injury
In conclusion, “Do I have a personal injury case?”
If you answered “yes” to the above three questions, you may have grounds for filing a valid personal injury claim. However, since filing a personal injury lawsuit can have serious legal and financial repercussions, we strongly encourage you to consult with an experienced personal injury lawyer beforehand.