Why Injured Victims Should File a Personal Injury Lawsuit?
Personal injury lawsuits have two basic purposes. The first is to secure a fair opportunity to receive reimbursement for your losses. In many cases, no amount of money can truly compensate a victim and his or her family for the physical and emotional aftermath of an accident or wrongful death. And because they have suffered a personal injury, victims typically incur very large medical bills and repair bills for damage to their property. Often, they must take time off from work to recuperate from their injuries. Sometimes the injury is so severe that disability might be involved. Suing those responsible for your injuries allows you to win the money you need to get back on your feet. In addition to medical bills and property loss, lost wages reduced long-term earning capacity, pain and suffering, and other expenses caused by an accident due to the defendant’s negligence may all be reimbursed through a successful personal injury lawsuit (or insurance claim if a jury trial is to be avoided).
The second objective of filing a personal injury lawsuit allows you to punish the individual or entity that caused your injuries. By suing those found to be responsible, and then winning fair compensation, you’ll help ensure that they think twice before again acting carelessly in a way that could endanger others in the future.
The Elements of Success in any Personal Injury Lawsuit or Insurance Claim
Anyone who has legal standing can file a lawsuit for any purpose in Texas. Those who have been legitimately injured by someone else’s negligence certainly have legal standing to do that. But filing is one thing. What really matters is being able to file a personal injury lawsuit with evidence that you can clearly establish. In order for your case to be successful, this evidence must effectively meet your plaintiff’s burden of proof in each of the four clear elements of a successful personal injury case or insurance claim. They are duty, breach, causation and finally, damages. They are listed again below and include what the plaintiff must do in order to clearly prove each of these four elements:
Duty – The first element of a successful lawsuit is the ability to clearly show that the defendant owed you a duty of care to act in a way that wouldn’t cause you harm. Often, people owe each other the duty to behave as reasonably as possible in order to avoid hurting others. In short, people we would normally trust to look after us owe us that duty to do so. This means not only avoiding unreasonably careless activities but furthermore, the defendant must take affirmative (clear) precautions to protect others from getting hurt in the same way a reasonable person would do so. The reasonable person’s duty of care is only one of many potential duties of care that may apply to the defendants in your case. The applicable duty of care in your specific case greatly varies according to the people, the nature of the injury and the circumstances involved.
Here are just a few examples of instances in which the duty of care may vary, and that few Texas free legal advice Web sites rarely clarify:
Homeowners. Property owners generally owe a pretty low duty of care to trespassers who come onto their property without permission or those who are there to commit a crime. In some instances, though, property owners may have a much greater duty to protect children from getting hurt on their land, especially their neighbors, or children who are “innocently trespassing.” Visitors who the owner allows on his property also have a right to expect a reasonably high duty of care.
Shopkeepers. Have you ever noticed signs at stores and restaurants warning you about wet floors or steps or other hazards that might cause injury? Now we’re not obligated to put up signs warning customers and other guests of similar hazards. A high duty of care is already assumed. But stores and other places of the business owe a modestly greater duty of care to customers because the law views them as strangers. So a higher duty of care must be displayed in their warnings. And every reasonable must be made by the owner to prevent these visitors from getting hurt on the property. But the signs do not uniformly relieve shopkeepers of that higher legal duty if they don’t make such efforts at care.
Hotels and public transportation. Like stores and other businesses, Innkeepers and common carriers owe their patrons a particularly high duty of care in many instances.
Doctors and medical professionals. Doctors and other members of the medical profession receive special training in order to be able to do their jobs. We expect that they’ll use their specialized knowledge and skill when treating and diagnosing patients. This is why the law demands that doctors treat patients with an unusually high level of care than they would owe other people whom they are not treating. While they are working, doctors and other medical professionals must exercise the care expected of any reasonable medical professional, rather than simply that of a reasonable person. By the very nature of their jobs, all healthcare professionals are held to a much higher obligation than the rest of us.
Drivers. In many states, the duty of care owed by a driver to a passenger depends on whether the passenger is paying for a ride or simply a guest. In states, such as Texas, where cab drivers, bus drivers, and chauffeurs must be much more careful to protect the safety of a paying passenger in his car, their duty of care is usually higher-than-normal.
There are also a variety of other less obvious duties of care that might apply to your case. Depending on which duty of care applies in your situation, you may have a much easier time of proving the defendant’s violation of the duty of care. Or you might have a much more difficult duty to prove. These variations represent one reason why after you suffer an injury, personal injury legal advice that’s free is rarely enough to give you an accurate picture of your individual situation. You need the services of a Texas personal injury lawyer who specializes in this form of the law.
Breach – After showing that the defendant owed him a duty of care, a successful plaintiff and his attorney move on to prove that the defendant breached that duty of care. Proving a defendant breached the appropriate level of duty that was owed you usually requires establishing clear and explicit evidence to show exactly what the defendant did, or failed to do, that constitutes the breach. If your case goes to trial, the jury will consider your evidence of an alleged breach, along with all of the circumstances involved in the accident, and determine whether the defendant did, or did not, breach the duty of care that you will claim. And only an experienced personal injury attorney can make juries understand the detailed nuances of the breach, and how they apply to a specific case.
Negligence is the most common way of proving that a defendant violates his duty of care. It refers to what you believe as simple carelessness. If a defendant is careless, even during the critical seconds when your accident occurred, he may be held legally responsible for the injuries that result.
Gross negligence (usually seen as a complete disregard for the safety of others) is another way in which people violate the duty of care they owe to you. An action constitutes gross negligence when it’s highly likely to cause injury to other people, or willfully damage another’s property. Driving while intoxicated is one – of many – examples of gross negligence. In the end, grossly negligent defendants just don’t care.
Finally, you might prove breach of the defendant’s applicable duty of care by demonstrating the defendant acted with the intention of causing you harm. This is viewed as patently gross negligence. If your injuries are the result of physical assault by the defendant, you’ll likely argue that his or her actions, along with the injuries and damages arising from them, were intentional. If the evidence in your case is this strong, the odds of a favorable outcome in your case can become quite good.
Causation – The ability to prove causation is a critical part of any personal injury lawsuit. It’s just not enough to show that a defendant breached the duty of care he owed you. You must also demonstrate that his actions produced your injuries. This is not always easy, especially if you were unconscious when your injuries occurred, or if many different parties might have contributed to your accident. Furthermore, the defendant you name in your lawsuit will probably try to prove that your injuries were caused by someone else, or even by you. If you can’t make this crucial link between the defendant’s actions and your injuries, your case will quickly unravel and you’ll lose.
Now we get to damages. You might see it as the “holy grail.” But we’ll warn you right off the bat that any free online legal advice web site that tells you a specific amount to expect from any personal injury damage suit, you should view those amounts with a liberal dose of salt. Sharing typical recovery amounts for generic types of personal injury cases can be one thing. But any suggestion that you can expect to recover “X-amount” of money for injury compensation by anyone with no knowledge of your specific case is clearly misleading and an outright disservice to you.
If you are successful in proving the defendant’s liability, the final step finds him/her/them paying damages to you in order to fairly compensate you for your serious injuries. Now don’t confuse injuries with the legal term “damages.” If you are involved in an accident and break your legs, your broken legs are your injuries. Your damages include the cost of treating your broken legs, the wages you’ve lost if you can’t return to work during your recovery, and the value of other economic and non-economic losses you sustained as a result of the accident that you have now proven the defendant caused.
Your tangible financial losses are called special or economic damages. Most of the time, examples of special damages include lost wages, loss of earning capacity for the period of time you can’t work because of the injury, and your medical bills. Sometimes, the cost of medical treatment can be easy to calculate. Other times these costs are not, especially if your medical treatment continues longer than expected, or the full extent of your injuries remains unknown. Then the task of calculating special damages is more complex. Calculating the loss of earning capacity is often a complicated matter. If you’re unable to return to work, you must account for the time value of money you’ve actually lost, as well as hypothetical promotions, raises, and career changes when calculating how much you’ll demand in defendant compensation for the income you are unable to earn in the future; regardless of whether it takes months or years for you to recover.
Intangible non-economic losses are called general damages. These damages include compensation for your emotional suffering associated with the accident. The amount of general damages that a case is worth depends almost exclusively on the circumstances surrounding the injury and the degree of pain and suffering. This is why general damages can vary greatly from case to case even if the physical injuries are very similar. After you’ve been injured in Texas, free personal injury legal advice you find online is almost never sufficient to help you understand the amount of general damages you may be entitled to. Because general damages are relative and subject to many different factors (and sometimes interpretation). Contact our Law Firm for a free consultation to find out what your case is really worth. After we ask you some important questions about your situation, we’ll be in a much better position to give you a good understanding of how a jury might put a price tag on your pain and suffering and other emotional losses: or the amount that may be recovered through aggressive negotiation with those liable for your injury and their liability insurance underwriters.
One of the biggest mistakes that personal injury victims make who don’t hire lawyers is failing to account for all of their damages. Once you collect money from a defendant, you can’t go back and ask for more compensation later. There are no “do-overs.” So it’s important to get it right the first time and recover all you’re entitled to from the defendant to compensate for both your tangible and intangible losses.
Put our years of experience to work for you if you want to know what your rights are, how to proceed with your claim and how much compensation you can secure from your personal injury case. Regardless of how it happened or who is liable, we can answer all of your questions. Call our Law Firm now at 1(800) 862-1260 (toll-free) for a free consultation and find out how we can help you.