How do I know if I have a strong personal injury case?
Nobody can predict when they will be injured as a result of someone else's negligence. While a sudden accident or reckless act can be devastating, the outcome doesn't have to be.
A good personal injury case involves strong liability and significant damages. Before you can begin building a strong case, you must first identify that the at-fault party had a duty to uphold. For example, a driver has a duty to drive in a manner that any reasonable or responsible person would in the same situation.
Attorney David J. Glatthorn explains what to expect from your personal injury case and how to connect liability and damages to your accident. Here's what you should know.
You must establish liability before evidence disappears. In Florida, the statute of limitations to file a personal injury claim is four years from the date of the accident. It is best to strike while the iron is hot because a thorough investigation must be conducted. For example, if you were involved in a car wreck, you need sufficient evidence to pursue damages from the at-fault driver's insurance company. Typically, this would be accomplished with the help of an experienced car accident attorney who can:
- Work with crash reconstruction experts to gather physical evidence from the crash scene.
- Examine the official police report.
- Interview witnesses and ask them what they saw.
- Examine surveillance camera footage if it's available.
Not all personal injury cases are alike. For example, if you were injured in a slip and fall accident on someone else's property, the following facts will need to be considered:
Your reason for being on the property
Were you invited onto the property or was the property open to the public? If so, the owner has an obligation to ensure that the premises is safe. On the other hand, if you were trespassing on someone's property, you have fewer rights unless you were intentionally harmed by the owner.
The owner's knowledge of a hazard
You may only have a solid slip and fall case if the owner of the property knew about a premises liability hazard or should have known about it. For example, if the owner failed to address a broken step or uneven walking surface, then liability can be linked to the owner. However, if you slipped and fell seconds after a liquid spill, then it's unlikely that liability can be linked to the owner.
Liability can also be linked to a negligent party in:
- Negligent security cases. The owner a business or other public property fails to hire adequate security personnel and install lighting and surveillance cameras. A violent assault occurs on the property as a result.
- Dog bites. The owner of a dog or other animal fails to secure, train or restrain the aggressive animal.
- Workplace accidents. A third party (someone other than your employer or fellow employee) causes your work injury. This includes:
- A driver who hit you
- An employee or contractor from another company
- The owner of a property you visited while working
- The manufacturer of defective equipment.
- Medical malpractice. Many medical malpractice cases stem from surgical errors, medication mix-ups and misdiagnoses.
Determining the damages
In order to pursue a strong personal injury case, there needs to be significant damages. One of the most critical steps you should take after an accident is to seek medical attention. A prompt medical evaluation and diagnosis of your injury serves as a strong link between liability and your damages. If you sustained a concussion, back injury, knee injury or bone fracture, you may be faced with costly medical bills and need to take a few months off from work until you recover. Severe injuries can take even longer and result in even greater medical expenses.
When pursuing a personal injury claim, your attorney will need to tally up your damages and place a full and accurate value on your case. The damages you may be eligible for include:
- Current and future medical costs
- Lost wages
- Assistance with daily tasks
- Property damage
- Pain and suffering
- Mental and emotional trauma
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Death benefits if you lost a loved one
Once the damages have been determined, your attorney will begin negotiating with the at-fault party's insurance company for a fair settlement. In most cases, personal injury settlements are reached without cases having to reach the courtroom. If a settlement can't be reached, your case will go to trial where your attorney will present the evidence and fight for a court verdict.
Get a personal injury lawyer serving West Palm Beach and South Florida
Never let the at-fault party's insurance company dictate the outcome of your case. Get an experienced personal injury lawyer on your side who will fight to maximize your compensation. David J. Glatthorn is a board-certified civil trial lawyer with more than 25 years of experience serving injured people in West Palm Beach and South Florida. To find out how he can help you, contact us online and schedule your free case review. We operate on a contingency fee basis, which means you don't pay unless your case is resolved through a settlement or verdict.