If you or a loved one have recently been injured, you may be wondering whether you have grounds upon which to file legal action. This is an important question and one that deserves a precise answer tailored specifically to your unique circumstances.
For better and for worse, there is no “one size fits all” answer to the question of whether someone who has sustained injuries is in a position to sue any party that may have contributed to the cause(s) of that harm. Thankfully, though, speaking with an experienced personal injury attorney will allow you to receive case-specific guidance designed to empower you to make informed choices about pursuing legal action. Most personal injury attorneys provide no-cost legal consultations for victims who are interested in learning about their rights and options.
Until you can meet with an attorney, there are a few general rules of thumb that will help you to assess whether you may have grounds upon which to file a strong, potentially successful personal injury case. As you review these rules of thumb, consider jotting down any questions that this information inspires. You can then reference these questions during your consultation in order to better ensure that you’ll feel confident making decisions about your case moving forward.
Personal Injury Lawsuits: Meeting Core Legal Standards
As an experienced Harrisonburg, VA personal injury lawyer – including those who practice at MartinWren, P.C. – can explain in greater detail, most personal injury cases (including all motor vehicle accident cases with very limited exceptions) must prove three key legal elements in order to be successful.
First, it must be established that the defendant named in the case owed the plaintiff (injury victim) a duty of care under the law. This particular element is usually easy to prove in motor vehicle accident cases because all road travelers are legally bound to operate their vehicles safely. But, it can be a challenging element to prove in some other case scenarios.
Second, it must be proven that the defendant breached their duty of care to the plaintiff by making choices that were negligent, reckless, or intentionally dangerous. These choices may consist of action or inaction, depending upon the circumstances at hand.
Third, it must be proven that the defendant’s breach led directly to the plaintiff’s injuries. In the vast majority of states, plaintiffs remain empowered to hold others accountable for their share of wrongdoing even if the victims were partially responsible for their injurious circumstances too. Many states only allow victims to seek compensation if they were less than 50% to blame and a very small handful of states don’t allow victims to seek compensation if they were partially at fault for what happened to them.
There are personal injury scenarios – including dog bite and a limited number of product liability cases – that are tried under a strict liability standard, which doesn’t require a plaintiff to prove a defendant’s negligence before they can successfully win a damages award. However, most personal injury cases do require the plaintiff to prove some version of the three elements detailed above.