If you or someone you know has been a victim of a personal injury, you have probably considered whether or not you need a lawyer.
There are many different types of personal injury incidents and cases. This can make it difficult to determine what rights you are entitled to and what compensation you are eligible for, depending on the nature of your injury and your case. You may also be unsure whether your injury qualifies as a “personal” injury or what parties to file a lawsuit or claim against.
A competent lawyer can help you through the process and work towards securing the best possible settlement to compensate you for your injuries.
But first, you have to choose the right lawyer that can cater to your needs.
At Schwartzapfel® Lawyers P.C., we can help you find the right lawyer for your case as well as provide you with legal support through every part of the process. We were able to secure $1.17 million for a pedestrian struck by a drunk driver in a personal injury case last year.
Learn more about the difference the right lawyer can make for your personal injury case.
Proving Personal Injury
Personal injury is a broad term that describes any injury or damages an individual suffers due to negligence or malpractice.
To file a personal injury lawsuit or claim, there must be proof that the actions of a certain party or individual were the direct cause of an incident that caused injury to the victim.
The following are some significant items a lawyer would consider to prove liability for a personal injury.
Duty of Care
While the law does not mandate that all people should be responsible for others around them, the duty of care pertains to individuals and parties who have a pre-established responsibility for others in certain situations.
In such cases, a duty of care exists because the actions or decisions of one party usually have direct impacts on the secondary party.
For example, an employer has a duty of care for their workers while they are on the job, and a driver on the road has a duty of care for other drivers while on the road.
In proving liability for a personal injury, a lawyer will have to prove the existence of a duty of care between two parties, as well as a breach in this duty of care leading to injury.
One way through which duty of care is breached is through negligence. Negligence occurs when a party is careless and fails to fulfill the basic duties it is responsible for fulfilling.
Examples of negligence include an employer who does not repair faulty equipment on a construction site or a driver that does not stop at red lights on the road.
Part of a lawyer’s job is to gather and secure evidence to determine whether negligence was the cause of an injury, as well as link it back to a responsible party.
Although similar to negligence, recklessness can cause accidents and injuries that are not caused by negligence. They are instead caused by an indifference to consequences, whether or not this indifference stems from good intentions. Because of this, incidents that involve recklessness may be harder to prove for a personal injury case.
If an ambulance driver injures someone while running through red lights, this would be an example of recklessness. Ambulance drivers and police drivers are generally allowed to speed through red lights in emergencies, even if they are aware of the dangers and consequences such an action may have and even though no driver should be doing so.
While liability may be hard to prove in such situations, a competent lawyer will be able to assess the reasons for recklessness on the defendant’s part in comparison with the injuries suffered by the victim.
A duty of care that all people have is to not injure or hurt others intentionally. Proving intentional action in personal injury cases ranges in difficulty. This is because intentional action can be both subtle and direct. Proving intentional action also depends on whether or not the responsible individual or party can be easily identified.
If an employee pushes and injures a coworker during a disagreement, you can easily prove that the victim’s injuries were caused by the physical outburst of a specific worker. However, if a site manager intentionally gives a worker they dislike a faulty piece of equipment to use, leading to an injury, it may be more difficult to determine who and what was responsible for the incident.
If intentional action is suspected after a personal injury occurs, a lawyer will thoroughly investigate the causes of the incident and who may have been involved.
Strict liability imposes automatic liability on responsible parties or individuals when the cause of a personal injury is clear beyond a reasonable doubt. In such cases, the victim of an injury does not have to prove liability to proceed with a claim.
While a lawyer may still be needed to secure evidence and help with legal proceedings, such cases are usually much simpler than those in which liability is questionable.
Why Your Case May Not Qualify as a Personal Injury Case
While there are many ways through which you and your lawyer can prove liability for a personal injury case, some injuries cannot be attributed to a responsible party or individual, and therefore may not qualify as a personal injury case.
This can occur if:
- Negligence or a breach in duty of care cannot be sufficiently established.
- The incident was caused by an accident absent of any apparent recklessness or negligence.
- The incident occurred due to the victim’s own negligent or reckless actions.
Even if you do not think there is enough evidence to prove responsibility for your personal injuries, speaking with a lawyer can better help you determine whether or not there is enough evidence to support your claim.
Personal Injury Common Causes
Because of the general definition of personal injury, many different causes can lead to one.
In New York, motor vehicle accidents are the biggest cause of personal injuries. Auto accidents can afflict drivers, passengers, as well as pedestrians.
Common Causes of Auto and Motor Vehicle Accidents
The most significant cause of auto and motor vehicle accidents in New York is distracted driving. This occurs when a driver is preoccupied and therefore not focusing on the road ahead.
It is especially dangerous when drivers are using their phones or electronic devices while at the wheel.
Distracted driving accounts for almost 25 percent of all car accidents in New York, as well as almost 11 percent of those that lead to fatalities.
Another detrimental cause of motor vehicle accidents is drunk and impaired driving. More than 30 percent of fatal car crashes in New York state are caused by drunk driving.
Drunk drivers are a danger to their passengers, as well as other vehicles on the road. Drunk drivers can also be dangerous to pedestrians.
A distracted or impaired driver that injures someone in an accident can be legally held responsible for their actions, as they have a duty of care to those sharing the road with them.
Filing a Personal Injury Lawsuit: How a Lawyer Can Help
The process of filing a personal injury lawsuit depends on the nature of the injury and who the responsible parties are.
While every case is different, here are a few of the basic steps filing a personal injury lawsuit entails.
Proving Responsibility and Identifying Responsible Parties
As aforementioned, identifying a responsible party can either be a simple or difficult task depending on the case.
After an accident, the first thing you should do is receive medical attention and have your injuries examined.
The second thing you should do is gather evidence to prove who or what was responsible for the accident, especially if liability is being questioned.
Determining Case Value
The value of your case is important in determining your eligibility for compensation, as well as the amount of compensation you are entitled to receive.
The value of your case depends on the following items:
- All medical expenses, including procedures, treatments, and rehabilitation if it is needed.
- Pain and suffering caused by your injuries and any permanent impairment or disability you may have suffered after an accident.
- Loss of income and wages if your injuries prevented you from going to work.
- Damage to any property, such as a car or vehicle, that was caused by the accident.
Because you may not be aware of what you can be compensated for, a lawyer can best assess the value of your case and make sure you are compensated for all the losses you suffered because of an accident.
Negotiations and Going to Trial
After responsible parties have been identified and the value of your case determined, your lawyer will begin to negotiate with the opposing parties to decide on a settlement.
It is unlikely that the responsible parties will be willing to give you the full amount of compensation you deserve. Fortunately, a competent lawyer will have the resources and knowledge to fight for the best possible settlement.
While most cases are resolved during negotiations, a case may go to trial if a settlement agreement is not reached. If this occurs, you will need a lawyer to represent you in court and prepare you to testify.
How To Find a Personal Injury Lawyer
There are several reasons why you should hire a lawyer for your personal injury case. But it is even more important that you choose a lawyer that is best suited for your case.
Ask People You Know
Your lawyer should be someone you can trust and depend on to prioritize your case. While searching the internet for a lawyer might be helpful, it can be reassuring to ask people you know about personal injury lawyers they have hired in the past.
It allows you to ask how trustworthy and diligent a lawyer was and how efficient they were in legal proceedings.
Look for Experience
There are many component lawyers, but not as many have experience with the type of case you are looking to file.
While all personal injury lawyers can help you file a personal injury lawsuit, you may want to hire one that has dealt with those involving car accidents, for example, if that is what your case deals with.
Beyond experience, you should also note how successful a lawyer has been in past endeavors and if they have helped previous clients receive sufficient settlements in the past.
Our lawyers at Schwartzapfel® Lawyers P.C. have experience dealing with all different kinds of personal injury lawsuits.
They have helped clients receive millions of dollars in settlements over the past years.
No matter how minor or significant your personal injury was, you are entitled to rights under the law and may be eligible for compensation. Even if you only suffered minor injuries, a lawyer can still help you further your case.
If you need help finding a lawyer for your personal injury case, you can book a free consultation with us to learn more.