Any lawyer will tell you the four elements you need to win a personal injury case. Besides a duty of care and a breach of that duty, you need to show that you suffered an injury caused by someone else’s actions. Although “injury” is often the element that is the easiest to establish in a personal injury claim, the more important consideration is the extent of your injuries. You have a legal right to receive compensation for all the damage you have suffered because of someone else’s actions.
If you are not aware of the principles of personal injury law, you may end up with far less money than you otherwise deserve, and you may never even know it. Therefore, you need to hire an experienced personal injury attorney to handle your case. They will help you understand the extent of your injuries and fight for every dollar you deserve, either in a settlement or jury award.
Insurance companies tend to treat injury victims as case files, while the right lawyer will acknowledge your individual suffering and experiences. Seeking a legal advocate is the best thing you can do following an accidental injury when someone else was to blame.
An Injury Can Involve Many More Things Than You Think
In a personal injury case, the definition of injury is quite broad. When calculating damages, a court will look at your life before the accident and what it is like now. The responsible party must pay you for the difference. Anything you have lost from your life before the accident can be an injury.
A personal injury can encompass many things, but they always stem from someone acting:
- Negligently – When someone else does not uphold their duty of care to you by failing to act reasonably under the circumstances
- Recklessly – When someone acts so carelessly that it represents an extreme departure from the standard of care
- Intentionally – When another person tried to injure you
Once you establish that someone else’s wrongful conduct caused your injury, you will be entitled to full financial compensation.
Examples of Injuries that May Entitle You to Compensation
Personal injuries measure how your life has changed since the accident or behavior that harmed you.
A personal injury will include:
- A physical injury to your body
- Damage to your property
- Harm to your emotions or psychological state
- Damage to your reputation
Damage to your reputation will be uncommon in an accident case, and these lawsuits will more commonly involve defamation or slander. Most personal injury cases focus on physical and mental injuries, and you need to consult with a lawyer who handles these types of cases.
Common Types of Physical Injuries in an Accident
The range of physical injuries you can suffer in an accident is broad. It does not even need to be an accident that harmed you. For example, you might get exposed to harm in the form of toxic substances that build up in your body over time. The point is that you cannot always pinpoint your injuries to one moment in time. You can suffer an injury over the years, and your exact injury date becomes very important when the statute of limitations is at issue.
Of course, the most obvious type of personal injury is physical.
Here are the types of physical injuries that you may suffer as a result of someone else’s conduct:
- Broken bones
- Neck and back injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Cuts and contusions
- Soft tissue injuries
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Physical illness (such as cancer or Parkinson’s disease)
- Eye injuries
- Damage to your hearing
Many other injuries can result from accidents, and each injury is unique. You will have your own treatment needs and feel effects on your life that are specific to your condition. You need a lawyer to evaluate your individual situation and losses.
Injuries May Become Apparent Later
Many injuries are apparent at the scene of the accident, although the full prognosis may not be known for some time. You may not even know that you have suffered an injury until days or weeks after the accident. The burden is on you to seek treatment for your injury and closely follow all the doctor’s recommendations. You will generally file a claim or lawsuit after reaching the point of maximum medical improvement and your prognosis is known. Until then, you do not know (nor can you prove) exactly the harm for which you are seeking financial compensation.
Injuries Can Also Be Something Other than Physical
You may also suffer a non-economic injury in a car accident. These injuries stem from your accident experience and the effect that it has had on you. Sometimes, the emotional injury is the actual injury. For example, your personal injury can be emotional distress because you have been in the zone of danger and witnessed something that has a lasting effect on you, even if you were not physically injured. In other cases, your non-economic injury relates to the physical injuries that you suffered.
You may be suffering from continuous pain on account of your physical injuries. This discomfort can be with you daily, impacting your quality of life. You did not have to live with this experience before you suffered an injury at someone else’s hands.
Many of Your Injuries Result from Your Physical Injuries (But Are Not Physical Themselves)
Physical pain is just part of what you may need to endure after an injury. Your injury also includes every other way your life has changed from your injuries, regardless of whether they are permanent or temporary.
For example, the physical injury that you have suffered may also be causing you emotional effects. You may be suffering from depression or anxiety because of your experience. The physical pain you are dealing with may keep you up at night, and insomnia is also an injury.
Your physical injuries may also cause other types of damage. For instance, permanent scarring or disfigurement is also an injury. Not only is your appearance changed forever, but you may also endure embarrassment and humiliation as part of your accident injuries.
Injuries Are Both in the Past and Future
Injuries do not end just because you resolve your personal injury claim. You need to consider the future effects of your injuries, and not only what you are experiencing at the time of your claim.
Economic injuries should include all the expenses and monetary losses you will experience in your lifetime due to your injuries. Non-economic injuries should involve both your past and present experience. The accident can take many things from you in the future, and you must receive a good car accident settlement.
While these damages may seem speculative when you file your claim, it is the only time you can receive compensation for future damages. You must make a claim now for your future damages to recover them later. You only have one chance to obtain compensation for your personal injuries.
This means that accurately estimating your future losses is critical at the time of your claim. Your attorney can consult with medical, occupational, or financial experts when necessary to present an accurate estimate of the losses you will likely incur in the future.
Coming up With a Dollar Value for Your Injuries Is Challenging
The difficulty begins when you are trying to quantify the extent of your injuries. First, you must ensure you have complete documentation of all your injuries. You have the burden of proof to demonstrate your injuries. You will not be paid for them if you cannot prove them.
You can document your injuries through:
- Your medical bills and records
- Testimony from friends and family who have observed you since the accident
- Keeping a contemporaneous log of your experience since your accident
- Testimony and medical records from a mental health professional who has treated you since your injuries
You Have the Burden of Proving Your Injuries
When it comes to an injury, the insurance company will not take your word for it. They will only pay you for what they can clearly see on paper in front of them. The obligation is on you to get everything down on paper.
If you try to handle your case independently, you may not even know what can be considered an injury. The insurance company not only knows the full extent of your injuries when they see your claim, but they also know exactly how much they are worth. Their job is to save money by paying you less than the actual value of your claim. Regardless of what a rational insurance adjuster can and should know, the financial interests of thee precir employer takedence over everything.
Hiring a Lawyer Levels the Playing Field with the Insurance Company
Although the insurance company likes to act as if it is in a superior position to you, it is actually the other way around. The insurance company is the one who has the liability based on their policyholder’s action, and they have a duty to pay your recoverable damages under the law.
Although they can and do try to make your life difficult, your legal right to financial compensation under the law is what you have going for you. You can flex your muscles and protect your legal rights by hiring the best personal injury lawyer who stands up for you when corporate interests try to take advantage of you.
Your lawyer will review your personal injury case to determine exactly how you have suffered an injury. They will start with your medical records and diagnosis. Then, they will ask you extensive questions to establish how you have been affected by the accident. These questions aim to establish what you have lost, and not just in economic damages. After reviewing your case and situation, your attorney will come up with a number that will be a starting point in settlement negotiations.
It Is Crucial to Tell Your Own Story to Get the Best Settlement
To demonstrate your personal injuries, you need to tell your story. The insurance company will not like hearing what you have to say since the facts may cost them more money. Your attorney tells your story in your claim and negotiations with the insurance company.
If the insurance company does not want to hear your story, a jury will. If you file a personal injury lawsuit for compensation and your case goes to trial, then the jury will determine the full extent of your injuries. They will listen to all the evidence you presented to determine how you have suffered an injury and how much you deserve.
Taking your case to trial is always the leverage you have in personal injury settlement negotiations. A jury may be more sympathetic, mainly because it has no financial interest in your case. These are simply human beings called upon to assess and issue a verdict on your case after hearing and listening to all your evidence.
Do Not Delay in Hiring a Personal Injury Lawyer
The key is to hire an attorney as soon as possible after your injury. What you do in the days, weeks, and months following a personal injury can determine whether you can receive financial compensation and how much money you can get. If you delay hiring an attorney, it may cost you money.
The personal injury lawyer can help you lay the groundwork for your claim to make it more effective when you file it. If you are trying to handle your own case, the insurance company will quickly identify you as an easy target. When they finish, your financial compensation can diminish or disappear entirely.
People’s primary concern when deciding whether to hire a lawyer is money. They may think that they have to pay a large amount upfront for a lawyer, or that they need to give a large percentage of their settlement to an attorney. In truth, hiring an attorney will maximize your recovery, and you don’t have to pay for the attorney up front. There is a wide range of outcomes in a personal injury case, and people who do not have a lawyer end up with far less than those who hire an attorney.