In a personal injury legal claim, a plaintiff (i.e. the party that was injured) claims that they have sustained an injury due to an act or failure to act by the defendant (i.e. the person alleged to have done the harm). If the plaintiff is successful in their personal injury lawsuit against the defendant, the court may then award the plaintiff money damages for their personal injury.
It is important to note that the events which form the basis of a personal injury claim may also form the basis for criminal charges. For example, a defendant may face a civil lawsuit for an automobile accident, as well as a criminal DWI charge or other motor vehicle violations.
A personal injury can damage a plaintiff’s emotional health, physical health, or a combination of both. Mental health injuries can include emotional pain and anguish. Physical injuries can include injuries to organs, bones, joints, muscles, or other parts of the anatomy. Importantly, the injury sustained by a personal injury plaintiff does not need to manifest itself instantly, and may develop over time.
Examples of events or accidents which may form the basis of a personal injury claim include:
What Is A Negligence Personal Injury Claim?
A negligence personal injury claim is a legal claim in which a plaintiff claims that the defendant injured the plaintiff by breaching a duty of care that the defendant owed to the plaintiff. The duty of care that is owed to a plaintiff will depend largely on the circumstances of the case. Typically, a defendant is under a legal duty to exercise a degree of care that an ordinary person would use under a particular set of facts.
Once again, whether or not a duty of care to a plaintiff exists will depend upon the foreseeability or predictability of harm that may result if the duty is not exercised. For example, a driver of a motor vehicle owes other drivers the duty to follow all of the motor vehicle laws. As such, if a driver of a motor vehicle does not keep a proper lookout or fails to maintain a safe speed, they will likely be considered to have violated their duty.
When a defendant breaches their duty, and that breach of duty results in an injury that causes damages to another person, the defendant has committed personal injury through negligence. The most common negligence personal injury claim is an auto accident.
What Is An Auto Accident?
Automobile accidents are incidents that occur when two or more vehicles collide into each other. However, an auto accident can also occur when a motorist hits a pedestrian, or another object resulting in damages to property.
After an auto accident has occurred and a person has been injured, it is important to figure out which party is at fault. This is important because the at fault party will typically be liable for the damages to the party not at fault. Once fault has been determined, the injured party typically will file a claim with the at fault party’s insurance company to recover for their personal injury damages.
If law enforcement was called to the accident, or if law enforcement arrived at the scene of the accident, they will make a written accident report. Within that written report there will usually be an officer’s report that identifies the at fault party. Additionally the report will contain statements from each party involved in the accident, along with witnesses to the accident.
In order to obtain a copy of the police report as evidence, either of the parties involved may contact the police department in the locality where the accident occurred. However, in some jurisdictions, there will be a small fee to receive a copy of the report. Further, in most localities an individual will be able to obtain a copy of the police report online.
In most accidents one of the drivers is found at fault almost 100% of the time, and the at fault driver’s insurance company will typically not dispute the issue. For example, in a rear end collision, the driver in the rear car who hit the first vehicle from behind is nearly always at fault. Additionally, in an accident where a person is found driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, the person found to be driving under the influence is generally always at fault for the accident.
How Does An Individual Prepare for a Car Accident?
As mentioned above, car accidents are one of the most common reasons for personal injury claims. Additionally, the injuries that result from a car accident can range from minor property damage to death. As such, the likelihood that a driver may have to deal with a car accident at some point in their life is very high. Therefore, it is important to know how to be prepared for a car accident.
When preparing for a car accident, it is important to do the following:
- Know Your Insurance: The most important thing an individual can do to prepare for an auto accident is to both have and understand the terms of their car insurance. Understanding your car insurance is crucial in understanding how to handle a car accident and recover for property damages and personal injuries;
- Call the Police: The second most important thing to do in a vehicle accident is to contact the police. As mentioned above, a police report will typically state the party that is at fault in the incident, and is crucial in proving liability;
- Exchange Insurance Information: Another important thing to do in a car accident is to make sure that you obtain a copy of the insurance information for any other party involved in the accident;
- Take Pictures: It is also important to take photos of the scene of the accident, along with any damages to the vehicles involved in the accident;
- Seek Medical Attention: If you have been injured in an automobile accident, it is important to seek medical attention for your injuries and keep a copy of all medical expenses that resulted from the car accident; and
- Keep Copies of All Other Documents: In addition to medical bills and the police report of the accident, it is important to keep a copy of any other documents related to the car accident, such as estimates of car repairs or witness statements.
In addition to all of the above, it is also important to understand the laws for your state. Each state will have different laws regarding how fault is determined. As such, one of the most important things to do in a car accident case is to contact an experienced car accident attorney to help you recover for any injuries that resulted from the accident.
Do I Need a Lawyer For Help With a Car Accident?
If you were involved in a car accident and you suffered any personal injuries, you should contact a car accident attorney as soon as possible. An experienced lawyer can help you understand your legal rights and options according to your state’s specific laws, and will also be able to represent you in court, as needed.