If you suffered a physical injury in an accident that resulted from someone else's negligence, you can recover monetary compensation through a personal injury claim or lawsuit. However, to maximize your economic damages, you must follow several steps and have an experienced attorney advocate for you throughout your case.
Before filing a personal injury lawsuit, your personal injury attorney can file a claim, usually with the at-fault party's insurance company. Your attorney can then negotiate settlement offers on your behalf and work to resolve your case favorably. However, if that does not happen, your lawyer can file a lawsuit in the court system and guide you through the necessary steps of litigation. Finally, if your case does not resolve out of court during the pre-trial litigation stage of your case, your attorney can take your case to a civil jury trial or binding arbitration proceeding.
Throughout your personal injury claim or lawsuit, your attorney can address all your legal questions and help you make difficult decisions in your case, including whether or not to accept a pending settlement offer from the insurance company or litigate your case in court.
Your attorney can also represent you aggressively in all courtroom proceedings and obtain the fair monetary damages you deserve for your accident-related injuries and losses.
What Is Negligence?
The basis for a personal injury claim or lawsuit is negligence. An individual or entity behaves negligently when they act unreasonably under the circumstances. For example, in a motor vehicle crash, a driver is usually negligent when driving carelessly or violating one or more traffic laws.
Generally speaking, a party is negligent when they do something or take some action that a hypothetical reasonable person should not take in the same or similar situation. Alternatively, a party may behave negligently if they fail to do something a hypothetical reasonable person should do under the same circumstances.
A knowledgeable personal injury attorney in your area can review your accident circumstances with you and determine if one or more individuals or entities likely behaved negligently under the circumstances. If so, we can explore your legal options and determine if you can file a personal injury claim or lawsuit seeking monetary damages.
Types of Accidents and Occurrences That Result from Others' Negligence
When other individuals and entities behave recklessly or carelessly, severe accidents and occurrences that lead to ongoing injuries may result.
The most common accidents and circumstances that result from the negligence of others include:
- Car accidents
- Truck accidents
- Pedestrian accidents
- Motorcycle crashes
- Bicycle accidents
- Medical malpractice and negligence
- Premises accidents, including slip-and-falls and negligent security incidents
- Product malfunctions that result from product defects or explosions
- Dog bites
- Workplace accidents, including accidents that occur on building and construction sites
If you suffered an injury in one of these occurrences that likely resulted from someone else's negligence, you should retain skilled legal counsel to represent you as quickly as possible. Your lawyer for personal injury can file a claim or lawsuit for monetary damages and pursue the highest amount of financial recovery available to you in your case.
Who Has the Burden of Proof in a Personal Injury Case?
In a personal injury claim or lawsuit that stems from negligence, the injured accident victim has the sole legal burden of proof. No other party, including the at-fault party, has to prove anything in the personal injury case. Instead, to recover monetary compensation, the accident victim is responsible for establishing every legal element of their case.
First, the accident victim must demonstrate that the at-fault party owed them a legal duty of care. The accident victim must also show that the at-fault party somehow violated this duty of care.
For example, in a premises accident, a property owner might have failed to clean up a spill or correct some other property defect within a reasonable amount of time, causing a slip-and-fall or other accident to occur.
Next, the injured accident victim must demonstrate that the at-fault party's breach of their duty of care was both the actual and foreseeable cause of the subject accident that occurred.
Finally, the accident victim must show that as a direct result of the other party's negligence, they suffered at least one physical injury in the accident. Generally speaking, a medical provider must be willing to testify, based on a reasonable degree of medical probability, that a causal relationship exists between the subject accident and the claimed injury or injuries. In addition to establishing a causal nexus, a medical provider can state that the accident victim suffered a permanent injury or injuries due to the occurrence.
Permanent injuries are medical complications that are unlikely to become better over time. An accident victim who suffers a permanent injury, such as full or partial paralysis, may experience ongoing pain, symptoms, and other complications for the remainder of their life.
A knowledgeable personal injury attorney can help you prove these legal elements in your claim or lawsuit, allowing you to recover the monetary damages you deserve.
What Monetary Damages Are Recoverable in Personal Injury Cases?
Victims of accidents and occurrences that result from negligence are often eligible to receive varying types and amounts of monetary damages. Every event is different, and some personal injury accident victims will recover more or less financial compensation than other accident victims.
The total economic recovery that an accident victim recovers via settlement or litigation will depend on the injury-causing occurrence, the body parts they injured, the extent of their medical treatment, the cost of their medical treatment, and other accident-specific factors.
First, an injured accident victim may be eligible to recover the cost of their related medical expenses, both past and future, in a personal injury claim or a lawsuit. They may also be eligible to recover their lost income, in addition to compensation for loss of earning capacity, if they had to take lower-paying work.
After a car accident, the accident victim may recover these economic damages from their own insurance company because of the State of New York's no-fault compensation system. However, they may pursue monetary compensation from the at-fault driver's insurance company if their losses exceed their no-fault coverage or they suffered a permanent impairment in their accident.
In addition to recovering economic damages in a personal injury claim or lawsuit, accident victims may be eligible to receive compensation for their intangible accident-related losses. Those losses may include monetary compensation for their emotional anguish and mental distress, permanent disability or disfigurement, loss of life enjoyment, loss of the ability to use a specific body part, past and future pain and suffering, and inconvenience.
Your attorney can help you recover these monetary damages by aggressively negotiating with insurance company adjusters on your behalf. If the insurance company refuses to compensate you fairly for your accident-related injuries, your attorney can draft a lawsuit and litigate your case in the court system for an efficient and favorable resolution.
Prerequisites to Filing a Personal Injury Lawsuit
Before filing a personal injury lawsuit on your behalf in the court system, your attorney will typically need to file a personal injury claim with the insurance company.
The claims filing process begins when an attorney submits various documents to the insurance company adjuster, including copies of camera footage that show the occurrence happening in real-time, police investigation reports, statements from eyewitnesses, photographs of the occurrence scene, pictures of visible injuries, medical treatment records and bills, and lost income documentation.
In addition to these documents, your attorney will likely submit a settlement demand letter to the insurance company, making an official demand for a monetary settlement within the available insurance policy coverage limits.
In most cases, the insurance company adjuster handling the claim will not make a full policy limits offer. Instead, they will offer you far less than your case is actually worth. In that instance, your attorney can negotiate with the adjuster and pursue a higher settlement offer.
Insurance companies and their adjusters do not have the incentive to offer you total and fair compensation for accident-related injuries. In fact, insurance companies want to save themselves as much money as they possibly can by paying you as little compensation as possible in your personal injury claim or lawsuit. However, if the adjuster does not take your case seriously, your lawyer can pursue litigation in state court for you.
Answering Written Discovery
When a defense attorney files an answer to the lawsuit, they will send your lawyer written questions, called interrogatories. His interrogatories pertain to the facts of the case, including how the accident happened, the injuries you sustained, the medical treatment you underwent, and the effects of the accident on your life. Your attorney can help you answer these interrogatories in a timely and complete manner.
Participating in a Discovery Deposition
Next, the defense attorney in your case will likely need your discovery deposition. At a deposition, the attorney can ask you questions similar to the interrogatories, only in more detail. Your attorney can prepare you to testify convincingly at a discovery deposition and make the best possible presentation. After the deposition, the defense lawyer will typically file a report with their insurance company adjuster about how the deposition went.
Continuing Settlement Negotiations
Following a discovery deposition, settlement negotiations between the parties may continue, and the case can still resolve out of court.
Attending a Pre Trial or Settlement Conference with the Court
A pre-trial or settlement conference offers the parties an additional chance to try and resolve their case through settlement. Your attorney can attend any of these court proceedings with you and aggressively fight for your legal interests.
Taking the Case to a Civil Jury Trial
If the parties cannot resolve all of their disputes outside of court, they will likely need to take their personal injury case to a civil jury trial. At a jury trial, your lawyer can make an opening statement and closing arguments on your behalf, introduce evidence, and prove the legal elements of your case.
Your attorney may also call witnesses at trial, including yourself. After a trial, the jury will decide the outcome of all disputed issues in the case, including the amount of monetary damages to award you for your injuries.
Pursuing Alternative Dispute Resolution Options in the Case
As an alternative to a civil jury trial, the parties may consider one or more alternative dispute resolution methods (ADR). Common ADR mechanisms include mediation or binding arbitration. Your attorney can help you determine if these are viable alternatives to a settlement or jury trial in your case.
Contact an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney About Your Legal Matter Right Away
Sometimes, the at-fault party in an accident is fairly straightforward, and some might think they will have no problems negotiating with the insurance company on their own. This is a mistake. Insurance companies have a lot of experience in figuring out ways to not give accident victims the compensation they deserve.
If you discuss your accident or injuries with insurance adjusters alone, you can easily jeopardize your claim without realizing it. Having an attorney handling all communications is the best way to ensure the most favorable settlement possible.
If you recently suffered injuries in an accident that resulted from another person or entity's negligent behavior, you are not alone. A personal injury law firm in Bronx can enter an appearance on your behalf and begin advocating for your legal interests immediately. Your attorney will do everything possible to maximize your total monetary recovery through settlement negotiations or a favorable litigation result.