The time right after you’ve been injured in an accident can be painful and confusing. Your main priority is to get better. But you also want to know if you have a legitimate legal claim against another individual for a settlement? How much can you expect to recover? How long will it take to settle? All are common questions asked by many of our prospective clients.
So, first let’s take a look at what a personal injury case is. In a valid PI case there has to be both negligence and damages. In other words, there has to be somebody who is responsible for your injuries and you must be able to prove that they were negligent in their actions that caused the accident. I do get calls from people once in a while that want to make a personal claim when the accident was clearly their fault – You can make a claim against your insurance company under the PIP coverage for payment of medical bills and wage loss, but unless the accident is someone else’s fault, there is no personal injury claim.
Negligence is not enough, you also need damages. Picture yourself driving through an intersection with a green light. A driver from your right drives through his red light before he sees you and realizes he just ran the red light. You see him first, take an evasive action and he narrowly misses hitting your car. In this case, there is clearly negligence, but there are no damages. Unless there is a collision, in this circumstance, that causes damages to your person, which may be a direct result of the other driver’s negligence, you don’t have a personal injury case.
Let’s assume you’ve got damages and can prove negligence. What kind of claim do you have? In some types of accidents, like automobile accidents, there can be two kinds of claims. First, there is a contract claim against your own insurance company. This is a personal injury protection (PIP) claim where you can file a claim against your own insurance company for 70% of lost wages and medical bills paid. PIP pays this claim regardless of fault. All car insurance policies in Oregon have personal injury protection benefits. Second, there is the tort claim or law suit against the offending party to recover all damages – including an award for pain and suffering. This claim is against the person at fault.
The value of the case depends on lots of things, severity of the injury, disputes as to liability and where the case goes to trial. One big factor that is in your complete control is whether or not you have a lawyer working on the case.
So remember, the things that determine whether you have a viable case are provable negligence and damages. Even with those two things, some cases can be really difficult. There are lots of variables that can affect the outcome of your case. It is important to have a lawyer in your corner as soon as possible in order to have the highest chance of recovering the highest value for your damages. Call the Law Offices of Brian Whitehead today for your free case evaluation.