How Do I Know If I Have a Valid Personal Injury Claim?
It’s perfectly normal for victims to wonder whether they have a valid personal injury claim after an injury that was not their fault. Sometimes families and loved ones file wrongful death claims after a fatal accident that claimed their loved one’s life.
On January 20, 2023, Keenan Anderson’s family filed a $50 million legal claim against Los Angeles City over the death of Anderson. The suit alleged that the 31-year-old teacher’s death was due to the serious injuries inflicted on him by an LAPD officer who repeatedly tased him after a multi-car traffic collision in Venice.
Other drivers blamed Anderson for the accident who appeared agitated and talked incoherently. Officers decided to arrest Anderson after he ran into the intersection despite orders to sit on the sidewalk. As officers struggled to detain him, one of them tasered him at least six times in under a minute. He later died in the hospital.
Such cases of personal injury claims are not always clear-cut and require a seasoned attorney to help determine their validity and the responsible party.
What is a Personal Injury Claim?
A personal injury claim refers to a legal case where an injured or aggrieved party presents another party as liable for the damages suffered and seeks financial compensation. Claimants can seek compensation from the negligent party or their insurer.
The above type of legal proceeding is called an injury “tort” and holds responsible parties accountable for negligence, recklessness, or deliberate actions that cause injury or damages.
Personal injury claims are beneficial to people who don’t have the resources to pay for proper medical care. They also cover lowered earning potential and lost wages. Personal injury lawyers help such people and their loved ones receive the resources they need to fully heal, recover from their injuries, and improve their quality of life.
Types of Injuries Covered by Personal Injury Claims?
Personal injury covers more than property damage and physical injuries. It also includes mental and emotional injuries or harm. The two types of damages awarded are compensatory and punitive.
1. Compensatory Damages
These seek to compensate the injured party for what was lost due to the injury or accident.
- General compensatory damages are for non-monetary damages like:
- Pain and suffering
- Physical and mental impairment
- Loss of consortium
- Emotional distress
- Special Compensatory Damages are for actual out-of-pocket expenses incurred due to injuries sustained, such as:
- Loss of income
- Short-term and long-term medical expenses
- Loss of earning capacity
- Replacement and repair of damaged property
- Costs associated with extended long-term injuries
- Wrongful Death caused by an intentional or negligent act, which emotionally and financially impacts survivors. Damages include:
- Loss of consortium and support
- Loss of financial contribution
- Pre-death medical care
- Emotional distress to loved ones
- Funeral and death expenses
2. Punitive Damages
Punitive or exemplary damages are monetary damages awarded to punish the defendant for their egregious actions and deter them from repeating similar conduct. It also acts as a warning to others.
What Types of Accidents May Lead to a Personal Injury Claim?
Personal injury covers various types of accidents such as:
- Road traffic accidents: Victims can claim car damage from the responsible party’s motor insurance policy. However, insurance claims don’t cover injury costs, pain and suffering, or lost earnings. A personal injury lawyer can help make these personal injury claims.
- Accident at work: Louisiana law requires employers to provide safe working conditions to their employees.
- Medical negligence: It occurs when medical care providers don’t fulfill their duty of care and professional obligations.
- Slips, trips, and falls: These can cause severe harm like broken bones, hip or back injuries, or head and brain trauma.
- Fatal and life-changing injuries: Some accidents lead to death or life-changing injuries like disfigurement, paralysis, chronic pain, limb loss, or loss of sight or hearing.
- Premises liability claims
- Product liability injury claims
- Burn injury claims
- Dog bites claims
How Do I Know If I Have a Valid Personal Injury Claim?
An injury does not automatically equate to an actionable claim. For a person to recover compensation in a personal injury claim, they must prove legal grounds for holding the defendant accountable.
Negligence is the most common legal theory involved. It requires the following:
- Showing the defendant owed the victim a duty. For example, the duty to maintain safe premises if the victim was a store customer.
- The victim must also demonstrate that the defendant breached their legal duty. From the above example, the store owner may have failed to take the necessary precautions to ensure a safe environment.
- Additionally, the victim must prove their injuries and damages were caused directly by the defendant’s actions and breach of duty (proximate cause).
Personal injury attorneys can use other legal theories such as intentional or strict liability torts. Still, the burden of proof lies with the plaintiff to show all the necessary elements in their claim are substantiated before recovery is possible.
Therefore, the best way to find out if a claim is valid is to consult a lawyer. Only a personal injury lawyer can figure out if a claim is strong enough to file and what amount of compensation their client can potentially win. They will also conduct all due diligence to ensure a favorable outcome for their accident.
What to Consider When Determining the Validity of Personal Injury Claims
Personal injury lawyers consider several things to determine the validity of claims.
1. The Extent of the Actual Injuries
Lawyers consider the extent of the actual injuries as opposed to potential outcomes. For example, getting into a serious accident with a drunk driver and walking away with minor scrapes and bruises does not qualify you to recover compensation because the outcome could have been devastating.
2. The Damages Incurred in an Accident
Lawyers must prove their client sustained injury and loss due to the negligence of the at-fault party. Therefore, the lack of injury or loss means there is no valid claim.
3. The Cause of the Accident
Injured parties who caused the accident don’t have a valid claim. However, victims have a claim if another at-fault party caused the accident while partial liability also entitles an injured party to compensation.
Because Louisiana is a ‘fault state,’ the party responsible for an accident is accountable for the damages. Partial liability means the court will reduce the victim’s award by their percentage of liability.
Understanding the intricacies of liability is crucial, especially when it comes to the different types of damages in personal injury cases. Whether it’s construction site injuries, sports-related accidents, or incidents governed by Louisiana bicycle law, each situation has its unique considerations. It’s precisely why many victims realize the importance of understanding why they need a lawyer to navigate these complexities.
If you have been dealing with a personal injury case, contact Alvendia Kelly & Demarest today at 504-200-0000 to schedule a free consultation.