In life, accidents happen. Unfortunately, when someone causes an accident, you may get hurt.
In the legal world, you have the opportunity to obtain compensation to help you with the damages that occurred because of the accident. To obtain this money, you must file a personal injury lawsuit.
The Basics of a Personal Injury Lawsuit
A personal injury case is filed because one person, called the plaintiff, suffers an injury during the accident. The person, called the defendant, is the one being sued. After a formal lawsuit is filed, the plaintiff has the burden of proving the other party was negligent.
Negligence refers to a defendant failing to act as a reasonable person would in the same or similar circumstances. Thus, a “reasonable person” would have avoided causing the accident.
A personal injury lawsuit has elements. To prove negligence, your attorney must use evidence such as witness statements to prove each element. These elements must be taken step-by-step to prove your claim.
The elements are:
- Duty: Legal duty means that the defendant had the legal responsibility to protect a plaintiff from harm by not causing an accident.
- Breach of duty: This means the defendant failed to uphold their legal responsibility to protect the plaintiff from harm. How did they violate their legal duty? They caused the accident. However, this doesn’t mean the defendant caused the plaintiff’s injuries. As the plaintiff, your attorney must prove the next element.
- Causation: The cause elements look who caused the injuries sustained in the accident. Causation is separated into – direct or indirect cause. Direct cause means that the defendant’s action or inaction caused the accident and the plaintiff’s injuries. Indirect cause, also called proximate cause, means the defendant acted in a way that caused the plaintiff’s injuries. For example, the defendant’s vehicle in front of them. That driver hit the plaintiff. This is an indirect cause.
- Damages: The term “damages” is just a fancy word for money or compensation. It is the amount of money the plaintiff receives to cover their injuries and other damages sustained in the accident like vehicle damage. The plaintiff must prove to the court that the defendant is responsible for their bills.
An Informal Settlement Doesn’t Require Proving Elements
An informal settlement is different than a formal lawsuit. It resolves your legal case prior to trial. This is the way most personal injury cases are resolved. Each party will negotiate a settlement to avoid court. A settlement is a written agreement between a plaintiff and a defendant. A plaintiff receives a specific amount of money.
In exchange, the plaintiff agrees to drop their lawsuit. They also can’t sue for any more money later. For example, if the settlement doesn’t cover all their bills, they are stuck paying the bills.
A Plaintiff has a Specific Time to File a Personal Injury Case
If you were injured in an accident, you may be considering filing a personal injury lawsuit.
Unfortunately, your state doesn’t allow you to file a lawsuit when you’re ready. It has a statute of limitations. The statute of limitations gives you a certain amount of time to file your case. This time frame varies depending on the case from one to three years.
Finding a Personal Injury Attorney for Your Case
A potential personal injury lawsuit requires a full understanding of the law, procedures, and facts of the case. This means that you need legal representation to get the compensation you may be entitled to have. To file or settle your case, it’s important to hire an attorney.