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The Basics

A close-up image of a personal injury claim form with blank fields for filling out detailsWhat Is A Personal Injury Claim?

In a nutshell, a personal injury claim seeks compensation for damages resulting from an injury caused by someone else’s fault. Now, within this, there are important differences between a claim and a lawsuit that need to be clearly distinguished before we can move further. A lawsuit is a specific type of claim. Not all claims lead to lawsuits, however.

A claim can be directed against an insurance company or, in rarer cases, against someone involved in the incident who doesn’t have insurance coverage. Recovering damages from uninsured individuals can be extremely challenging.

If a claim does not result in a resolution that satisfies all parties involved, filing a lawsuit may be necessary. Sometimes, it’s prudent to initiate legal action immediately, while in other situations, attempting to resolve the matter through an insurance claim first is more appropriate. So much of personal injury simply boils down to the peculiars of your specific case.

As you think through the aftermath of your incident, recognize that the complexity and cost balloon once you file a lawsuit. Lawsuits involve court procedures, depositions, discovery, and other legal formalities. On the other hand, claims that do not rise to the level of a lawsuit are relatively straightforward, consisting only of negotiating with an insurance adjuster.

Wrongful Death

Wrongful death cases are a type of personal injury, but there are some key characteristics you should be aware of that set them apart. The primary difference between a wrongful death case and a personal injury case is obvious – in a wrongful death case, the victim of the injury is no longer alive. As a result, the plaintiffs, or those who bring the case are usually the close relatives of the deceased person, whether it be a spouse, child, parent, or sibling.

If someone involved in a case dies as a result of the incident, the nature of the lawsuit will most likely change from a personal injury case to a wrongful death case. If the person has already passed away by the time legal counsel is sought, the case would typically begin as a wrongful death case.

In a wrongful death case, the focus shifts from addressing the deceased individual’s pain and suffering to compensating the surviving family members for their loss. The claim seeks to quantify the deprivation experienced by the close relatives in terms of care, companionship, society, and other emotional and financial support that the deceased would have provided if they were still alive.

While the incident may initially be pursued as a personal injury case, the legal strategy and objectives would be adjusted to reflect the new circumstances if the individual involved passes away due to the incident.

Proving Negligence

Proving negligence in personal injury cases, such as car accidents or premises liability incidents, relies on demonstrating that the responsible party acted below the standard of care expected of a reasonable person in similar circumstances and thus caused the injury in question. This is the crux of any personal injury case, and so often the most challenging task attorneys have to tackle. Without any exposure to personal injury law, you may understandably think this isn’t as complicated as lawyers may stereotypically lead you to believe, but trust us. These issues can get complicated quickly.

For car accident cases, negligence often involves violations of traffic laws or driving in a manner that is less safe than what a reasonable person would do. This can include actions like speeding, running red lights, or failing to yield right-of-way. But there may be other factors at play where, even if you are guilty of breaking the rules of the road, a sign may not have been properly displayed, meaning that the designers of the roadway might be at fault as well.

In premises liability cases, such as slip and fall accidents, negligence is determined by whether the property owner or manager maintained the property at a standard lower than what a reasonable person would. For instance, if a grocery store leaves a spill unattended, causing someone to slip, they may be considered negligent. Additionally, it must be shown that the property owner had actual or constructive knowledge of the hazard and failed to address it in a timely manner.

The first major step we take to ensure the best possible outcome for our clients is conducting a thorough investigation into the incident. By doing this, we can get a picture of how it happened, and thus, who is likely at fault. Equally important is ensuring that you follow up with any medical treatment and adhere to whatever recommendations your healthcare professionals make. Doing this not only increases your chances of healing but also establishes a clear record of your injuries and strengthens your case, especially if it progresses to a lawsuit.

Each case is unique, and negligence must be proven based on the specific facts and circumstances involved. While car accidents and premises liability are common areas of personal injury cases, any situation resulting in injury due to someone’s failure to meet the standard of care could potentially involve negligence. Ultimately, if a settlement cannot be reached, a jury will decide negligence based on the evidence presented during the trial.

Case Viability

We’ve developed a sixth sense if you will when it comes to discerning the viability of a case. We’ve been doing this for so long and with such passion that it comes naturally to us at this point. When a client tells us their story, whether negligence – as defined by the law – is at play, jumps out at us.

Nonetheless, when it comes to how viable and strong a case may be, the most important thing we look for is how the injuries impacted our client’s life. Depending on how severe the damages are, including injuries, your life may be upended, causing a career change. Even if things don’t go this far, you could suffer a loss of wages along with incurring an avalanche of medical bills.

You can’t ignore the practical side of personal injury cases. That said, collectability, that is, whether there’s the possibility of actually getting an outcome in a case, is a major factor that also shapes viability. Unfortunately, there are countless underinsured and uninsured drivers on the roads. What’s worse is that the law stipulates the minimum amount of insurance, which right now is only $15,000. The good news is that a recent law passed that will increase the minimum insurance requirement in the future. For many injury cases, damages are larger than $15,000.

If someone involved in an incident doesn’t have insurance, it’s extremely difficult to collect anything from them. It’s not ideal, but the reality is that most people don’t have a lot of money to collect from, and those who do know how to spend some of it to hide or protect the rest.

When Hire An Experienced Personal Injury Attorney

Don’t let this reality we just described scare you away from the idea of looking for an attorney – you should still get as much compensation as possible for your injuries, and contacting an attorney is vital to doing so in the vast majority of personal injury-related cases. But you may be wondering when is the ideal time to. This is a perfectly natural thing to wonder. Our simple answer is this: as soon as you realize you might have a claim.

Acting swiftly is key. After sustaining an injury in an accident, even if the full extent of your injuries is not immediately clear, reaching out to an attorney early allows for proper evaluation and guidance. In many personal injury cases, there is a statute of limitations, often two years for most injury claims and even shorter periods for certain types like medical malpractice or cases against government entities.

Given these time constraints, it’s advisable to contact an attorney well in advance of these deadlines. Waiting until the last minute may limit the attorney’s ability to properly assess your case and file necessary paperwork within the required timeframe. Therefore, prompt action is absolutely crucial to protect your rights and pursue fair compensation for your injuries.

For more information on Sustaining An Injury In An Accident, an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (415) 966-4471 today.

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