I you have been involved in an injury-causing accident, you may now be interested in pursuing a claim to obtain appropriate compensation for your injuries, damages, and losses. There are a set of general elements that must be satisfied for people to obtain compensation in personal injury accidents. From a legal standpoint, this is called establishing liability, or responsibility, for losses.
Four Legal Elements of Personal Injury Accidents Claims for Compensation
At the outset, in order to lay the groundwork to prevail in a personal injury case, you must satisfy four legal elements to establish liability on the part of someone else for causing an accident and your injuries. First, the party in question must have a legal duty of care.
If your injuries stemmed from an automobile accident, the other driver does have a legal duty of care to operate a motor vehicle in a reasonably safe manner. In fact, if you were also a driver, you possess the same duty of care. Once a legal duty is demonstrated, you must show that the duty of care was breached by the other party. For example, if you properly were in the intersection at a stop light, and another driver without the right-of-way enters the intersection against the light and collides with you, that driver would have violated a duty of care. The next element that must be established is what in legal jargon is called proximate cause. In other words, the breach of the duty of the care must be the legal and actual cause of the accident and the injuries you sustained. In the case of another motorist improperly entering the intersection, colliding with your vehicle, and causing your injuries, proximate cause would be established. Entering an intersection, without the right-of-way and against a light, can reasonably be expected to cause an injury accident with another motorist. Finally, you must have sustained actual injuries, damages, or losses. These cannot merely be something speculative. A personal injury attorney has the background necessary to establish the nature and extent of your injuries, damages, and losses.
Determining responsibility for personal injury accidents is not always a black and white matter. For example, an injured party like yourself might ultimately be deemed at least partially responsible for causing an accident. In many states, the fact that you might be somewhat responsible for causing an accident will not absolutely preclude you from obtaining compensation for your injuries. The mechanics of how this works from one state to another is something an experienced personal injury attorney can explain in greater detail. Comparative negligence is a standard through which you will obtain compensation which takes into account your own level of responsibility for causing an accident. Assume by way of example that you are determined to be 20 percent at fault for causing an accident. If the ultimate judgment in your case is for a total of $100,000, that amount will be reduced by 20 percent. You would receive $80,000. In what are called “pure” comparative negligence states, you are entitled to compensation based on this type of equation even if you are determined to be 90 percent at fault. On the other hand, in other jurisdictions, if you are deemed to be 50 or 51 percent at fault, depending on the state, you receive nothing. In a few jurisdictions, any negligence on your part precludes financial recovery.
Multiple Other Negligent Parties
If multiple parties contribute to an accident causing you to sustain injuries, the law in most U.S. states will designate one party, and that party’s insurance company, to be primarily responsible for providing you with appropriate compensation. Reimbursement to that party, or insurance company, is a decision made between the other negligent parties.