A successful personal injury case requires that you or your lawyer:
- Prove the extent of your injuries and damages
- Prove that someone is liable for your accident and injury
- Successfully handle an out-of-court settlement or a civil lawsuit
Getting the compensation you deserve can take time, require careful attention to paperwork, and entail back-and-forth negotiations. In this essential guide to a successful personal injury lawsuit, learn how you or a lawyer can build a solid case for your compensation.
Proving The Extent of Your Injuries and Damages
In any injury case, you will need to demonstrate the most basic fact of your case: that you were injured. This can be done by:
- Collecting evidence of your medical records, lab work, medical bills, and more
- Gathering statements from your doctor
- Getting expert testimony to speak to your condition’s severity
- Showing evidence of missed paychecks
Even if you were seriously hurt and needed to take months off work to heal and get treatment, you will need to show solid evidence of your injuries and how they’ve affected your life. After all, an insurance company will often try to challenge or downplay your claim in any way they can.
How a Lawyer Can Show That You Suffered Harm
To prove the extent of your injuries and your losses, a lawyer will first investigate all the ways an accident affected your life: financially and non-financially. They’ll get a deeper sense of damages such as:
- Your medical care costs
- How your prognosis will leave you with future medical costs
- How you suffered losses to your career
- Any emotional hardships you faced after your injury
They can then bring several key tactics and resources to the table to prove these damages to an insurance company or a jury. They may have relationships with experts in various medical fields who can speak in detail about how serious your injuries truly are.
For instance, if you’re facing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) on top of a leg crush injury, an expert can verify that your injuries are not only physical but psychological. This can go a long way in proving to an insurance company or jury that you deserve compensation for intangible damages, such as pain and suffering.
What You Can Do to Demonstrate Damages
The most important thing you can do for your injury case is seek medical care and follow your doctors’ orders. This will help you document:
- That your injuries are related to the liable party’s actions
- The extent of your injuries and your long-term health outlook
- The cost of your medical care
- How the injury affected your ability to work
- That you took steps to mitigate your own losses
The other party’s insurance company could try to argue that any or all the above are untrue. They may try to say that your medical costs are less than you claim, that your injuries aren’t serious, or that you made your own injuries worse. If you have a record showing that you got extensive medical care immediately after the accident and beyond, they’ll have a harder time making these claims.
If your doctor tells you to take certain medications, get physical therapy, or attend follow-up appointments, do so. This will go far in proving the validity of your injury case and your right to seek compensation.
Proving That Someone Is Responsible for Your Accident and Injury
Saying that you were hurt is one thing but proving that a particular person or entity owes you money for that injury is another matter.
Showing that someone is liable for your injury case requires proving that they were negligent. In other words, they must have:
- Owed you a duty of care
- Breached that duty
- Directly caused your injuries and damages
How a Lawyer Can Prove Liability
Let’s say that you were injured in a slip and fall accident at a hotel where a wet lobby floor caused you to slip and break your hip. A lawyer can gather evidence to show that:
- The hotel breached their duty of care by neglecting to place wet floor warning signs in the lobby.
- Their negligence was the reason you slipped and fell.
This may sound straightforward, but this is another area of your case that an insurance company may attempt to challenge. They could say that your own shoewear caused the slip or that they had other warning signage present in the building.
A lawyer will gather evidence that proves negligence and liability. They can seek footage from the hotel’s security cameras, track down records of past violations by the hotel, gather witness testimony, and much more. Most of all, they will be familiar with the kinds of arguments that negligent parties often make when trying to refute liability. They will know how to counter these claims and show who was responsible.
What You Can Do to Hold a Negligent Party Liable
Here are some of the ways that a liable party may try to downplay their own liability or downplay the value of your case:
- Ask you to sign liability release waivers immediately after the accident
- Contact you soon after the accident to make you a settlement offer
- Ask you to make a recorded statement about the incident
Avoid all these offers and attempts and pass them along to your lawyer if you hire one. In many cases, a quick settlement offer means a low offer, as insurance companies will try to get victims to sign off on their claim before they get legal help and understand their case value.
Similarly, making a recorded statement can harm your case in the long run, as you may make comments that indicate you were at fault.
Successfully Handle an Out-of-Court Settlement or a Civil Lawsuit
Typically, if someone else caused your injuries, you will be able to:
- File a lawsuit in civil court, or
- Settle your claim through out-of-court insurance negotiations
The best option is the one that produces the best possible financial recovery with the greatest possible efficiency. In many situations, you could get the amount of compensation you deserve through a settlement. However, you may have to file suit if the insurance company won’t make a fair offer or if this presents your best chance of getting full damages.
How a Lawyer Can Manage the Legal Process
A lawyer’s job is to handle all the legal details of your case, and that includes:
- Helping you determine if you should proceed with a claim or a lawsuit
- Handling all aspects of the negotiation for you
- Preparing witnesses and litigating on your behalf in civil court
- Ensuring you file all necessary paperwork
Ideally, the lawyer will have trial experience in your area of injury law so that if you need to go to trial, they’re confident in their abilities.
Going to trial and dealing with insurance companies are complex legal tasks. A lawyer can help you protect your rights, fight for the best possible compensation, and counter any unfair or aggressive tactics that are meant to challenge your case.
What You Can Do for Your Case
Ultimately, it’s your choice if you want to hire a lawyer to handle your case for compensation. You can do the following as you determine how you want to handle your claim or lawsuit:
- Get a free case review: Many injury lawyers offer free case reviews so you can learn your options. They may also work based on contingency, so you would pay nothing up front to get started. Know that if someone was reckless, careless, or otherwise negligent and caused you significant harm, you shouldn’t give up if the first lawyer you speak to says you don’t have a case. Some lawyers will be more prepared to take on a case like yours than others.
- Understand your insurance coverage: If you were in a car accident, for instance, you can take a closer look at your auto insurance policy to see what’s covered. You can also find out more about what you do and don’t have to say to an insurer who contacts you.
- Gather your own evidence: When you’re seeking compensation, it’s important to hang onto any evidence that could be relevant to your case. Keep track of receipts or any relevant contact information for those involved with your case. If you decide to handle your injury case yourself, it’s crucial to have a record of how the injury affected you.
George Sink, P.A. Injury Lawyers Offers Free Case Reviews—Learn Your Legal Options Today
You don’t have to be alone in your case. Call our team today to understand if you have a case and what your next steps could look like. We serve victims of injury across Georgia and South Carolina. Our team can offer you guidance and help you pursue a successful personal injury claim or lawsuit.