How Do I Know If I Have a Valid Personal Injury Claim? - Sara Williams ESQ

How Do I Know If I Have a Valid Personal Injury Claim?

June 10, 2021

Accidents happen all the time — on the road, at home, workplaces, shopping malls, and everywhere else. Sometimes, like natural disasters, they’re unavoidable, and at other times, they’re a result of someone’s carelessness. According to a report, accidental injuries are one of the leading causes of death in America.

It’s such a difficult time dealing with personal injuries, especially when they’re due to someone else’s negligent actions. So, if you’re an injured party in an accident, it’s normal to demand justice for your injuries. You can do this by filing a bodily injury claim with the negligent party’s insurance company. Ideally, the insurance company will propose a fair personal injury settlement to compensate you for your hurt and losses.

However, merely having an injury caused by someone else wouldn’t cut it sometimes. You’d have to prove certain elements to have a valid personal injury claim. While a personal injury lawyer will answer your specific questions about your claim’s validity, you can find general information here.

Calculator next to a personal injury form

What Are the Types of Personal Injury Claims?

A personal injury claim (or bodily injury claim) centers around hurt or damage to a person. It means that someone’s careless action caused you bodily harm that you would never have suffered if they were more careful. Personal injury claims refer to physical or bodily injuries alone and don’t include property damages.

There are different types of claims under personal injury law. The most common ones are: 

  • Road Traffic Accidents 

From motorcycle accidents to car crashes and other types of road accidents, road collisions are quite common in Alabama. In fact, Alabama reported a traffic crash every 3 minutes and 18 seconds in 2019. A vast majority of such traffic collisions cause automobile accident injuries. If a driver’s negligence caused the accident, the injured person could bring a personal injury claim against the at-fault party.

  • Slips and Falls 

Depending on the accident’s severity, falls can cause devastating major and minor injuries like bruises and traumatic brain injuries. Slips and falls happen when a person trips on another person’s premises and sustains injuries as a result. This usually happens when the property owner neglects to maintain their property to prevent mishaps. Slips and falls are common personal injury claims that have the property owner as the responsible party.

  • Wrongful Death 

A wrongful death claim happens when an injured party in a personal injury claim dies. When this happens, the deceased’s family takes up the personal injury claim on their behalf. The compensatory damages in wrongful death claims differ from that of other personal injury claims. However, the essential element is that someone got injured due to a negligent party’s actions.

  • Medical Malpractice 

When we visit the hospital, we hope that the attending medical experts do their jobs properly. However, some act irresponsibly in administering medical care, and their negligence can complicate patients’ conditions. In such cases, the aggrieved patients can file personal injury suits or claims against the negligent medical personnel.

  • Dog Bites 

Dog bites would be a type of personal injury accident if they happened due to the dog owner’s carelessness. Dog bite injuries can be extremely painful, and you can file a personal injury claim in such cases.

  • Defective Products 

Defective product claims fall under product liability claims which in turn fall under personal injury law. Defective product injuries are usually severe and can cause life-altering damages to the claimant.

Do I Have a Valid Personal Injury Lawsuit or Claim?

Even with the most experienced attorneys by your side, you must have a valid claim to get compensated for your injuries. To have a valid legal claim, these elements must be present in your case: 

  • Duty of Care 

Everyone must exercise reasonable care and act responsibly to prevent harm from coming to others. The standard of care here, like in other tort claims, is that of a reasonable person. Therefore, in other words, the law mandates everyone to behave as a reasonable person would in dealing with others. 

personal injury book being looked over

In a personal injury case, the injured person must show that the at-fault party owed him a duty of care. Sometimes, especially in auto accidents, this duty of care is implied. For example, every driver must obey traffic rules and exercise reasonable care on the roads. However, a property owner owes no duty of care to trespassers.

  • Breach of Duty 

When you establish a duty of care, the next element to prove is the breach of such duty. That means the responsible party behaved in such a way that shows wanton disregard for the safety of others. Usually, the responsible party was aware that their actions were potentially harmful to others. Yet, they decided to do it anyway. 

For example, a drunk driver may know about the devastating effects of drunk driving but disregard them. When such a driver causes an accident resulting from their intoxication, they have breached a duty of care. In cases where the defendant claimed ignorance of the danger, the courts can determine liability using the reasonable man’s test.

Would a reasonable person have acted differently in the circumstances? If yes, then the defendant is guilty of breach of care and must pay fair compensation for their negligence. Note that Alabama uses a type of comparative negligence rule in determining liability.

  • Personal Injuries 

The reason behind a compensation claim is the injury or harm sustained due to an accident. As such, you are seeking adequate compensation that is proportional to the severity of the damage caused. If you didn’t suffer any injuries, your legal action would be invalid. Remember that personal injuries here exclude damage to property.

  • Causation 

Apart from sustaining personal injuries, you must show that the injuries were due to the defendant’s negligence. That is, the accident and nothing else must have been responsible for your injury. As such, you cannot seek financial compensation for an injury you suffered before the accident happened.

  • Evidence 

Like in every civil lawsuit, your success lies in the preponderance of the evidence being in your favor. That means that if you can’t prove the above elements, your claim may fail. Insurance adjusters will hardly facilitate quick settlement by accepting liability immediately. As such, your skilled attorney will advise you on how to gather ample evidence for your claim. 

Usually, evidence-gathering starts from the accident scene. Taking pictures and making videos of the accident scene immediately after it happens can significantly help your case. Sometimes, your team of attorneys will have to call expert witnesses to collaborate on your claims.

  • Statute of Limitations 

Statutes of Limitations refer to the laws regulating the period of time within which to file a claim. Limitation periods vary from state to state. Most states like Alabama impose a two-year Statute of Limitations for personal injury lawsuits.

What Are the Types of Damages in Personal Injury Claims?

Usually, the following types of damages amount to maximum compensation for your injury claims:

  • Economic Damages (Actual Damages)

This refers to compensation for your financial losses incurred due to the accident. These usually include medical expenses, physical therapy costs, loss of wages, etc.

  • Non-Economic Damages 
Women holding broken arm caused by falling

Noneconomic damages in a civil claim refer to non-monetary losses in an accident. They include loss of enjoyment, mental anguish, loss of quality of life, emotional distress, loss of consortium, etc.

  • Punitive Damages

An Alabama court can award punitive damages in deserving cases. Punitive damages aim to punish the defendant instead of compensating the claimant. Instead, they’re legal recompense for committing an offense.

Get in Touch With a Personal Injury Attorney Immediately!

Sara Williams is one of the best and most experienced lawyers in Alabama. If you’re looking to get adequate compensation for your personal injuries, my law firm is here to help. I offer affordable, top-notch legal advice and representation to my personal injury clients, and I’m eager to get started on your claims. Contact me today.

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