What Defines "Damages" in a Personal Injury Case?

The Fundamentals of Personal Injury Law

For anyone who has been injured because of the negligence or reckless actions of another party, understanding the basic fundamentals of personal injury law is a must. First among these is the importance of getting the medical treatment you need. Obtaining immediate medical care is critical not only for your health and well-being, but also for your legal claim.

You will need extensive documentation of both your physical and psychological condition in order to recover maximum compensation. In addition, as an injured party, you also have a legal duty to mitigate your losses by obtaining prompt care for your injuries and following through on all treatments and procedures that are prescribed by the medical professional you are seeing.

In What Circumstances do Personal Injury Laws Apply?

Personal injury law can apply to any accident or event in which someone is injured by another person or party. Some situations in which a personal injury claim may be appropriate include:

  • Auto Accidents
  • Truck Accidents
  • Pedestrian Accidents
  • Motorcycle Accidents
  • Boating Accidents
  • Construction Accidents
  • Premises Liability
  • Dog Bites
  • Product Liability
  • Medical Malpractice
  • Nursing Home Abuse
  • Intentional Acts of Violence

In order for an injured party to have a valid personal injury claim, four elements must be proven:

  • Duty of Care: The defendant owed a duty of care to take reasonable steps to prevent you from being injured. For example, a motorist is required to drive in a safe manner, avoid alcohol, and avoid unnecessary distractions.
  • Breach of Duty: The defendant breached this duty through negligent or reckless actions or omissions. For example, a car crashed into you while the driver was speeding and went through a red light.
  • Causation: The defendant’s breach of duty was the proximate cause of the accident; e.g., the collision would not have happened but for the fact that the defendant sped through the red light.
  • Damages: The accident or event caused by the defendant resulted in compensable losses. For example, because of the car crash, you suffered several fractures that will keep you out of work for an extended period of time. Because of this, you have medical bills that will top six figures, tens of thousands of dollars in lost wages, the possibility of lost future earning capacity, untold amounts of physical and emotional suffering, and the inability to participate in activities that you once enjoyed.

How Does a Personal Injury Claim Work?

In most cases, the person or party responsible for injuring you is not going to step forward and willingly compensate you for all of your losses. Usually, you will be dealing with the responsible party’s insurance company, which likely means dealing with an insurance adjuster.

You can deal with the insurance company yourself, or you can hire a personal injury lawyer to handle your claim. It is important to understand that, while the insurance company representative might tell you that you will receive a fair settlement whether you have legal representation or not, insurance is a business, and their goal is to pay out as little as possible for claims filed against their insured. For this reason, it is best to work with an experienced attorney who is looking out for your best interests.

Once you have an attorney representing you, they will handle all of the complex legal tasks and guide you through the process from A-Z. They will deal directly with the insurance company and advise you on what actions you need to take in order to bring your claim to a successful conclusion.

From the outset, your attorney will thoroughly investigate your case and gather all of the important facts and pieces of evidence. This may include police reports, photos of the accident scene, accounts of witnesses, and much more. Your attorney will also examine your medical documentation to show the extent of your injuries and put together the strongest possible case to present to the other side during settlement talks.

It is generally in the best interests of all parties to settle a personal injury case without going to trial, and this is what happens with the vast majority of injury claims. The way this typically goes is that your attorney will present a settlement proposal with a demand for full compensation based on the evidence that is presented. This begins the negotiation process.

The other side may accept or reject the settlement proposal. If the proposal is rejected, this could result in a series of counter proposals and further negotiations. If a settlement cannot be reached, the case could go to mediation, which is a process in which a third-party mediator attempts to help the parties reach an acceptable settlement. If the parties cannot agree to a settlement with mediation, then the case might go to trial.

Trials are unpredictable, and insurance companies generally like to avoid them if possible. Oftentimes, the simple act of initiating litigation and showing the other side that you are serious about trying the case can bring them back to the table with a reasonable offer. The key is to work with an attorney who is willing to go to trial if necessary and has a proven track record of success litigating cases. In some instances, a full trial might be the only way to secure just compensation, so you should be ready for that possibility.

Once a settlement is negotiated or a verdict is won, you will receive whatever compensation is agreed upon or awarded. In some cases, you will get paid in one lump sum. In other cases, you may receive a series of payments over time. The timing of your payments will depend on several factors, and this will be different in each case.

Speak with an Experienced Atlanta Personal Injury Lawyer

Personal injury is a very complex area of the law, and there are numerous factors and variables that will determine the success or failure of each case. If you or a loved one has suffered an injury that was someone else’s fault, the best thing to do is retain the services of a skilled and knowledgeable attorney as early as possible. The more time you let go by, the more difficult it will be to gather evidence, track down witnesses, and put together the strongest case for maximum compensation.

If your injury occurred in Georgia, contact Ross Moore Law for assistance. Call our office today at (404) 905-3146 or message us online for a free consultation and case assessment.