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In order to recover in a personal injury claim, you must prove that you have been damaged by the accident. The fact that an accident happened is not enough. The theory is that the settlement will make you whole again by putting you in the same position you were in before the accident.
If you have been maimed, permanently disfigured, or disabled for life, your injuries will be enough to warrant a PI claim. In other cases, the injuries must be disrupting your daily life. Minor injuries, the treatment of which can be covered by your health insurance, will not be sufficient to merit a PI claim.
One famous case involves a woman who spilled hot liquid on her lap after ordering it from a fast-food chain drive through. She has often been criticized for being unnecessarily litigious. In fact, the woman was seriously injured. She had burns all through her lap area that required skin grafts.
You will not recover damages if you caused the accident. You will need to prove that someone else caused it. You will also have to prove that the other party had a duty of care to you and that he or she breached it. For example, any driver has a duty to keep a proper lookout. If the driver hits you because he or she was not looking, he or she has breached that duty. Duties differ depending on the situation, but the concept is the same. If there was no reason for the at-fault party to watch out for you or protect you, you may not recover damages.
For example, if a man were to die because he lit a firecracker while it was on top of his head, the firework company would not be liable for his injuries. The fireworks company has no duty to protect the man from being stupid. The firework company may have a duty to warn the consumer that fireworks are dangerous, but that is another article.
Good personal injury cases are built on solid foundations of evidence. If you are wondering if you have a good case, look at your evidence. Can you prove the other party was at fault for the accident with police reports or security camera footage? Can you prove that the accident caused your injuries with medical records? If you do not yet have any evidence it may be acquired, but if you cannot prove your claims you cannot win a personal injury case.
The law is not as straightforward as most non-lawyers would expect. Certain cases of fault are not as black and white as most people think. In order to double check your theory of the case look for other cases in your same state that are like yours. You can use free websites like Nolo and Findlaw to look up court opinions. Read the cases and understand the law as best you can. You do not want to negotiate with an insurance adjuster with no background knowledge.
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