A Checklist to Determine Whether You Have a Valid Personal Injury Case

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In 2020, a study showed that there were over 24 million visits to emergency departments in the United States for unintentional injuries. Personal injury cases can arise from these incidents, allowing victims to recover both economic and non-economic damages

If you’ve been injured, knowing whether you have a valid personal injury case can be complex, but following a structured checklist can help. This post outlines key factors to consider to determine the validity of your personal injury claim.

Was There an Injury?

The first and most crucial element in any personal injury case is the presence of an injury. Without an injury, there is no case to pursue. Injuries can be physical, such as broken bones, sprains, or bruises, or they can be emotional, like anxiety or depression resulting from the incident. It’s important to document all injuries, no matter how minor they may seem, as they can significantly impact your daily life and your case.

Was the Injury Caused by Someone Else?

Determining if someone else caused your injury is crucial for a personal injury claim. It involves examining the incident to see if another person’s actions or negligence led to your injury. For a personal injury claim to be valid, the injury must have been caused by someone else’s actions or negligence. This includes a wide range of scenarios:

  • Car Accidents: Another driver’s fault can lead to a valid claim.
  • Slip and Fall: Negligence on the part of a property owner, like not cleaning up spills, can be grounds for a case.
  • Medical Malpractice: Errors by medical professionals that cause harm can be pursued.
  • Defective Products: Manufacturers can be held liable if their product causes injury.

Determining the cause and identifying the accountable party are crucial steps in establishing the foundation of your case.

Was There a Duty of Care?

A duty of care is a legal obligation that compels an individual to act with a specific level of caution to prevent harm to others. In a valid personal injury case, the accountable party must have owed you this duty of care, signifying their legal obligation to act in a manner that avoids causing harm. For instance, drivers are obligated to adhere to traffic laws and drive safely, store owners must maintain safe premises for customers, and doctors must deliver competent medical care.

Was There a Breach of Duty?

Next, you need to determine if there was a breach of duty. A breach of duty means that the accountable party failed to meet their duty of care. Examples include:

  • Speeding: A driver speeding in a school zone breaches their duty to drive safely.
  • Ignoring Hazards: A store owner who doesn’t clean up a spill breaches their duty to keep the store safe.
  • Medical Errors: A doctor who makes a surgical error breachs their duty to provide competent care.

Was the Breach of Duty the Direct Cause of Your Injury?

Causation plays a pivotal role in a personal injury case. To succeed, you must establish that the breach of duty directly led to your injury. This requires a clear connection between the negligent action and the harm you suffered. For instance, if you were injured due to another driver running a red light or a store’s failure to clean up a spill, these specific actions directly caused your injury.

Have You Suffered Damages and Sought Medical Attention?

To pursue a personal injury case, you must have incurred damages due to your injury. These damages can be categorized as either economic or non-economic:

  • Economic Damages: These include lost wages, medical expenses,  and property damage.
  • NonEconomic Damages: These cover suffering and pain, emotional distress, & loss of enjoyment of life.

Do You Have Sufficient Evidence to Support Your Claim?

You need clear proof to show how the injury happened and who was at fault. Important evidence includes photographs of the accident scene and your injuries, statements from witnesses who saw what happened, medical records detailing your injuries and treatment, and any police reports if they were involved. This evidence helps to build a strong case by clearly showing the connection between the accident and your injuries. Without solid evidence, it can be hard to prove your claim and get the compensation you deserve.

Have You Filed Within the Statute of Limitations?

Every state has a statute of limitations for personal injury cases, which is the time limit you have to file a lawsuit. This can range from one to six years, depending on the state and type of case. If you miss this deadline, you may lose your right to pursue compensation.

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