A personal injury case is a legal claim for damages for any type of physical injury. This contrasts the case with other types of civil lawsuits for things like breached contracts and property damage alone. When you face physical injuries in an accident, it is important to take your case to a personal injury lawyer who can help you put a value on your case and get the compensation you need.
Personal injuries make a case much more serious than cases with property damage only, and the compensation you receive can often help fund your recovery. Especially if you are left out of work or with expensive medical care costs, you should work with a lawyer from the beginning to avoid low settlements with insurance and undervalued claims.
Call Howe Law’s personal injury attorneys today at (844) 876-4357 for a free case review.
Grounds and Elements for a Personal Injury Case in Johnson City, TN
In order to have a case, you need to meet a few elements. These elements make up your “prima facie” or first impression case, and it takes extensive evidence and testimony to prove these elements once your case gets to trial. If you meet all of these elements, then you have grounds for a personal injury lawsuit, and our personal injury attorneys can help you seek the compensation you need.
While some injuries do happen because of intentional injuries – and have different elements – most cases are filed on the grounds that the defendant was “negligent.” Injury claims based on negligence have 4 elements:
First, you must prove the defendant was under the obligation to follow a legal duty that would have protected you from harm. For example, drivers must not drive drunk because a drunk driving crash could injure or kill you. Property owners must make sure their staircases are safe because a broken step could make you fall. Product manufacturers must make sure their products follow the design because substituted inferior parts could result in broken products that injure users.
This duty is often based on a preexisting relationship between the victim and the defendant, such as their doctor-patient relationship or the relationship between a property owner and a customer in their store. Sometimes the relationship is merely two people sharing the same space, such as two drivers on the road.
Sometimes these duties are explicitly stated in the law, and other times, they are inferred based on what a reasonable person would do in the same situation.
A failure to uphold the legal duty from the first element is considered a breach of that duty. A breach of duty is the foundational issue behind a negligence claim.
A breach does not need to be intentional, and mere carelessness or lack of skill is usually enough to prove a breach of duty. If the defendant’s actions were even worse and they violated their duty through recklessness or intentional disregard for the safety of others, then you could be entitled to punitive damages against them. But otherwise, there is no increased mental state requirement to prove a breach of duty.
If the breach of duty was what caused your accident, then that will fulfill the third element of a negligence claim. Causation cannot be shown if there was an intervening cause – such as actions by a third party – that “cut off” the defendant’s actions. That would usually mean you would sue that third party instead.
However, multiple people or entities can be held liable if their breaches of duty combined to cause your injuries. Assigning partial responsibility to each party is common, and the victim can also be assigned partial fault.
Liability is often cut off at a reasonable point down the line of causation. For example, in a car accident, you would sue the driver who hit you while driving drunk, and you might even be able to sue the bar that overserved them, but you would not be able to sue the person who built the bar or sold them a car. While the crash would not have happened if it were not for their actions, what they did would not have been a breach of duty and would be so far down the line of causation that their actions cannot be considered the “legal” or “proximate” cause of the accident.
Victims of personal injury cases must, in fact, have personal injuries to be able to file a claim. However, personal injuries can involve all kinds of harms, from those you can treat in a hospital to the mental and emotional scars that no one else can see. Cuts, bruises, broken bones, emotional distress, mental anguish, and more are all considered “damages.”
In addition to the physical and mental harm you faced, you can also get compensation for any economic or financial harm that results from the accident. While pain and suffering damages are often a big part of these injury cases, you can also get compensation for medical expenses and lost wages, along with other economic damages.
Working with an attorney to know what your case is worth is vital if you want to avoid accepting a low payout from insurance companies seeking to quickly settle the case and get it done with.
When to Call a Lawyer for Injuries in Johnson City, TN
You should call our attorneys for help with your accident as soon as you can. We can immediately begin investigating and piece together evidence about what happened. We can also start tracking your damages and helping you keep notes on what you remember and your recovery journey to help use those as evidence when we have to prove your damages to the insurance company or the judge and jury.
Contact Our Personal Injury Attorneys in Johnson City, TN for Help Today
Call (844) 876-4357 for a free case evaluation with our personal injury attorneys at Howe Law today.