Personal injury is a complex area of law that allows an injury victim to go to civil court and pursue monetary damages. This is distinctly different from a criminal case which involves penalties such as fines that are paid to the state and jail time. The purpose of a personal injury claim is to compensate the victim for all losses suffered and to make them “whole”. Although no amount of money cannot make up for intangible losses like having to live with a permanent injury or losing a loved one, it is the best the legal system can do to provide just compensation and hold responsible parties accountable.
Personal injury law can apply to numerous situations, including but not limited to:
- Accidents: Accidents happen all the time, and many of them result from the negligence or reckless actions of others. Some common types of accidents in which a personal injury claim could be filed include auto accidents, commercial vehicle accidents, motorcycle accidents, pedestrian accidents, and premises liability accidents.
- Workplace Injuries: Some injuries that occur in the workplace may warrant a personal injury claim. This could apply to cases in which the injury was caused by the deliberate actions of the employer, or if the injury was caused by a third party.
- Medical Malpractice: When someone with a health concern goes into see a medical professional, they have the right to be provided with an acceptable standard of care. Unfortunately, this does not always happen. Medication errors, surgical errors, emergency room errors, errors that result in birth injuries, and nursing home negligence are just a few examples of medical malpractice.
- Product Liability: Thousands of products come onto the market each year, and many of them are defective and/or dangerous. When a faulty product causes injury to a consumer during the course of regular use, this could be grounds for a product liability claim.
What Must I Prove to Demonstrate that a Personal Injury Occurred?
In order to have a valid personal injury claim, you must prove four basic elements:
- Duty of Care: The first thing you must show is that the defendant owed you a duty of reasonable care. For example, a vehicle driver has an implied duty to drive in a safe manner and take reasonable steps to avoid causing others harm.
- Breach of Duty: After you have established a duty of care, you must show that the defendant breached this duty by their actions or omissions. For example, the driver was sending a text and did not look up in time to avoid hitting the pedestrian that was crossing the road in front of them.
- Causation: Next, you must show that the defendant’s breach was the proximate cause of the plaintiff’s injury. Using the previous example, the pedestrian would not have been hit had the defendant been watching the road rather than looking at his/her phone.
- Damages: Finally, you will need to show that the accident or incident caused by the defendant resulted in compensable losses. For example, the collision into the pedestrian resulted in several broken bones, an extended hospital stay, and several weeks out of work.
Pursuing a Personal Injury Claim
If a plaintiff has a valid personal injury claim, they can pursue damages not only for direct monetary losses such as medical bills and lost wages, but also for noneconomic losses such as pain-and-suffering, psychological distress, loss of enjoyment, and permanent injury. Noneconomic losses are more intangible and difficult to quantify, however, and this is where it is extremely helpful to work with an experienced personal injury lawyer. Your lawyer will guide you through the complex legal process, and they will accurately calculate the value of your losses so they can put you in the best possible position to recover full and fair compensation.
In many cases, a personal injury plaintiff will be dealing with the defendant’s insurance company. This typically involves a series of back and forth negotiations with offers and counter offers that each side considers. Most personal injury cases are settled out of court, because it is generally in the best interests of all parties involved to avoid costly and protracted litigation.
That said, you should enter the process with the willingness to take your case to trial, and you should be represented by an attorney with extensive trial experience and the proven ability to win these types of cases. Oftentimes, just the credible threat of litigation will be enough to bring the other side to the table and motivate them to agree on a reasonable settlement.
Contact an Experienced West Virginia Personal Injury Attorney
If you or someone close to you suffered injury at the hands of another party, you need strong legal counsel by your side advocating aggressively for your legal rights and interest. At Bailey, Javins, and Carter L.C., we have over four decades of experience successfully representing West Virginians with even the most complex types of personal injury cases. We work closely with our clients, providing the strong personalized representation they need and deserve.
Call our office today at (800) 497-0234 or (800) 296-6979 or message us online to schedule a free, no obligation consultation with one of our seasoned attorneys.