We at Marathon Law hope you never experience an accident that results in injuries, but if you do, it’s good to know what constitutes a personal injury claim, and what might not. Of course, some injuries are due to unavoidable circumstances such as aging or genetics – things that no one can control. But when you’ve become injured in an accident due to another person’s negligence, they are liable for compensating you for those injuries as well as any property damage that has occurred. This is where a personal injury claim, and a possible lawsuit, come into play to protect you and your family from financial devastation due to medical treatment costs, lost wages, etc.
How Do You Know If You Have a Case?
You can file a personal injury claim with the insurance company of the person who was at fault for the accident that caused the injuries, or you can file a personal injury lawsuit against them. This will allow you to receive compensation for the damages that you have suffered, from the person who was liable for the accident or circumstances that occurred.
Examples of these accidents or situations are:
- A car accident caused by a negligent driver;
- A slip-and-fall accident caused by the direct action, or inaction, of the property owner;
- An accident that happened while you were working;
- A medical malpractice case caused by negligent medical personnel;
- A product defect caused by a manufacturer; or
- A dog bite caused by a negligent or inattentive dog owner.
These are all situations where you could have a valid legal claim because there was another person or entity at fault for the accident or event that caused your injuries.
What Establishes a Valid Legal Claim?
Basically, there are two main things that will establish your claim as valid. You and your attorney will need to prove these things for compensation to be awarded for your damages. They are as follows:
- You must prove that the party you are making the claim against was negligent, and at-fault for the accident or situation that resulted in your injuries; and
- You must prove that you suffered actual damages as a result of the injuries.
In any personal injury case, the burden of proof falls on the plaintiff – the person filing the claim. It is important, then, to have a skilled personal injury attorney representing you.
If your claim is not settled out of court, as most are, it will go to trial and be decided by a judge or jury. The legal standard by which you must prove your case is a “preponderance of the evidence.” What this means is that you must prove to the judge or jury that more likely than not, your allegations are true regarding the type and severity of the injuries you’ve suffered, as well as who is at fault (the defendant). Even if your claim doesn’t make it to trial, it can be beneficial to think about your claim in terms of whether it meets these standards.
Not every case will be decided by negligence. For instance, if your injuries were caused by a workplace accident, an intentional act, or a defective product, your case will follow different rules. But in the majority of personal injury cases, negligence will be the deciding factor.
What Evidence is Necessary to Prove a Claim?
There are several types of evidence you can use to prove negligence. The following is not an exhaustive list, and your attorney can advise you on how to best use the evidence you have to prove who the at-fault party was regarding your claim.
Examples of evidence used to prove negligence in personal injury claims:
- The police report documenting the circumstances of the accident, prepared by the officer that was at the accident scene;
- The incident report in a slip-and-fall accident that has been prepared by the business owner or manager;
- Eyewitness statements taken at the scene of the accident stating details such as when and where the accident occurred, what injuries were witnessed, and the severity of those injuries;
- Photos taken at the accident scene of the surroundings, weather, placement of vehicles, damage to vehicles, and injuries sustained;
- Doctor’s records of medical treatments required to treat or heal your injuries, such as emergency services, hospital services, doctor visits, physical therapy, chiropractic, wound care, etc.;
- Billing records for medical treatment;
- Documentation from employer regarding time taken off work to heal, specifying your normal salary, to support a claim for lost wages; and
- Medical expert testimony giving an opinion on the cause of your injuries, if you have sustained injuries that are commonly also caused by normal processes such as aging.
When To Contact An Attorney
Having legal representation for your personal injury claim is important. Employing the skills of an experienced attorney such as those at Marathon Law can mean the difference between securing fair compensation for your damages – or receiving nothing at all.
Of course, the first thing you should do if you’ve sustained injuries due to the negligence of another person or entity is to get the medical treatment you need. After you are stabilized, your next step is to contact us to set up a free, confidential consultation. You can reach us by phone at 303-704-1222 or through our online contact page.