What You Need to Know About Personal Injury Claims
Accidents happen. While you cannot shield yourself or your family from every hazard, knowing what to do when something goes wrong is a great way to help the ones you love. It doesn’t matter if the accident happens when to you when driving, to your wife at while she is at work, or to your children at school – you are entitled to get the care you need. With that in mind, here is what you need to know about personal injury law.
It More Often Than You Think
“Based on estimates, nearly 150,000 people in the U.S. in accidents each year. In many cases, the surviving family members of the victim (i.e. parents, spouse, and children) can bring action in what is known as a wrongful death suit”, says JR Reyna, an attorney out of San Antonio.
These suits tie back to accidents which were caused by slips and falls, drowning, and even poisoning. In fact, death by injury one of the leading causes of death in states like Texas and elsewhere. As you can see, we live in a dangerous world with opportunities for deadly, or at least, injurious accidents are all around us.
Types of Accidents
There are all sorts of accidents and when it comes to personal injuries, you might be surprised how many ways in which you could be injured. While traffic accidents tend to get most of the attention, the reality is that there are many other types of accident risks that you should be aware of.
These accidents are alternatively called ‘mechanism of death’ or ‘external cause of death’ and other common accidents include slip and fall, gunshot wounds, poisoning, suffocation, and even falling – for example, of your roof. I am sure you can think of many more types of accidents but this short list will give you a better awareness of your potential for injury.
Duty of Care
Another thing to know about personal injury cases is that there is something called the ‘duty of care. This is a practice which defines the standards of medical treatment when you every time you are treated by a doctor.
Note these standards are considered legal obligations for doctors and nurses, among others, who are taking care of you. As such, any action which may cause you additional harm whether it is by error of omission or commission can be considered to be counter to the standards of care. This could mean that the practitioner behind the incident could hold criminal or civil liability.
If you think that this never happens, you would be surprised as a there are numerous times when deviation from the standards of care might happen when you or someone you love are admitted to a hospital.
However, there is something you need to know before bringing a legal action based on negligence – you must establish that the standard of care was well defined and that the defendant was the person responsible for the delivery of care at that time.
While this can be simple to establish in some situations, there are times when it is more complicated and this is where getting expert advice on the particulars of your treatment protocol can provide clarity.
What is Negligence?
One it has been established that a standard of care existed, then the next step is to determine whether there was negligence and if it was due to the actions of the defendant. As mentioned, negligence can be an act of omission (e.g. carelessness) or commission (e.g. lawlessness) but the challenge is often in proving to what extent and whether it is part of a broader pattern.
This means that certain elements besides duty of care and breach of care must be established before a claim could move forward. These include ‘causation’ and whether the negligence resulted in ‘real’ damages.
In order to establish causation, you will have to illustrate that the breach of care caused of the accident. Additionally, the cause will have to be recognized by the law as one potential event which could lead to injury, or worse. While there is no magic formula, this step will require that a lawyer can prove that the action had a foreseeable negative impact. Though this can often be easier said than done.
Lastly, you as the plaintiff will also need to prove that the injuries stemming from the accident caused ‘real’ damages. These are damages which can be economic, such as medical expenses, property damages, and lost income, or non-economic, such as pain and suffering or quality of life. Note that proving these damages usually requires a combination of medical opinions, expert witnesses, and a host of documentation.