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How to Win Your Personal Injury Claim

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How to Win Your Personal Injury ClaimEvery year, millions of Americans suffer accidental injuries and preventable deaths. Many of those victims, or family members of those who died, seek compensation through a personal injury claim. In the United States, over 400,000 personal injury claims get filed every year.

In the aftermath of an injury or wrongful death, victims and their families want to know what they can do to win their claims and secure as much money as possible. Every injury and claim differ, of course, but in general, the most reliable way to improve the odds of a favorable result is to put your claim in the hands of a skilled, experienced personal injury lawyer.

In this blog post, we explain why that’s the best advice to follow when you have a personal injury claim. We also cover some other steps you may take that could help to protect your legal and financial rights.

Just What Is a Personal Injury Claim, Anyway?

Let’s start with the basics. A personal injury is a physical and/or emotional injury caused by someone else’s wrongful (i.e. careless, reckless, or intentionally harmful) decisions or actions. Motor vehicle accidents are a common source of personal injuries, as are falls, violent crimes, and instances of medical malpractice (to name just a few).

A personal injury claim is a legal demand for financial compensation made by the victim of a personal injury against the party who caused the injury, or anyone else answerable for that at-fault party’s conduct. For example, you might make a personal injury claim against a careless driver who caused a car crash, a property owner who failed to warn you about a slippery floor, or a medical provider who failed to diagnose a deadly cancer.

Victims, usually with the help of an experienced personal injury attorney, typically assert personal injury claims by sending a formal demand for insurance benefits to an insurance company, by filing a lawsuit against an at-fault party, or both.

In a personal injury claim, the victim can usually seek compensation for:

  • Past and future medical expenses related to the injury.
  • Other out-of-pocket expenses caused by the injury.
  • Past and future lost wages or income that the victim does not earn because of the injury.
  • Pain, suffering, harm to personal relationships, and other life challenges resulting from the injury.

Sometimes, the wrongful conduct that causes a personal injury is so outrageous, reckless, or intentionally harmful that the victim can also request payment of punitive damages, which aim to punish that conduct and to deter others from engaging in it in the future.

What Does It Mean to “Win” a Personal Injury Claim?

In the United States, we tend to think of lawsuits as zero-sum competitions in which one side wins and the other side loses. In truth, however, things are a bit more complicated, at least when it comes to personal injury claims.

For personal injury lawyers and their clients, “winning” a case means securing a favorable financial result that compensates personal injury victims fairly for the physical, emotional, and financial harm they have suffered. That may mean winning a case in a courtroom trial. However, far more often, it means negotiating an out-of-court settlement of a claim with the at-fault party’s lawyers and insurance representatives. In a typical settlement, the personal injury victim receives money, and the at-fault party gets released from any further legal liability for the victim’s damages.

Most personal injury claims settle because, most of the time, the parties on both sides prefer the certainty of reaching a mutual agreement about a fair resolution of the claim over the uncertainty of what might happen at a trial. Sometimes, however, the parties simply cannot agree on a settlement, and a case goes to trial to be won-or-lost in front of a judge and jury.

What Affects The Chances of Winning a Personal Injury Claim?

Lots of factors affect the chances of winning a personal injury claim, however you define success.

The Strength of the Evidence for Liability and Damages

A personal injury claim asserts the victim’s legal right to receive compensation for injuries. In other words: “Party A’s wrongful actions caused an accident that injured me, so the law says I’m entitled to receive payment from Party A in the amount of $X.”

Making a personal injury claim is only a first step, however. To achieve a favorable result, the victim’s lawyer must collect and present evidence to prove:

  • That party engaged in wrongful actions.
  • That the wrongful actions caused the victim’s injury.
  • That the harm the victim suffered translates into $X of damages.

Evidence consists of any item of information that can be presented in a court of law to prove a fact. A witness’s sworn testimony is evidence. So are documents, physical items, photos, and videos. Lawyers obtain evidence by investigating the facts and circumstances of a personal injury, sometimes with the help of experts who can help them evaluate facts and data to draw reasonable conclusions.

Lawyers tend to divide evidence into two categories: direct and circumstantial. Direct evidence proves a fact outright. For example, testimony that you saw rain falling constitutes direct evidence that it was raining. Circumstantial evidence proves a fact through reasonable inference. For example, testimony that you saw people outside carrying open umbrellas is circumstantial evidence that it was raining.

A strong personal injury claim features enough direct and circumstantial evidence to prove someone’s liability for a personal injury, and the damages appropriate for that injury, to a high degree of certainty. That does not always mean that the claim with the most evidence is the strongest, however. Oftentimes, for example, a single item of direct evidence can make for a much more powerful case than a mountain of circumstantial evidence.

The Skill and Experience of the Personal Injury Lawyer

Strong evidence does not make a personal injury case strong on its own, however. You also need a lawyer to tie that evidence together into a compelling argument for liability and damages. Broadly speaking, the more skillful the attorney representing a personal injury victim, and the more experience that attorney has with the specific type of claim involved, the better the chances of achieving a favorable financial outcome of a personal injury claim.

Of course, that rule-of-thumb has its exceptions. Some personal injury claims are so strong that anyone with a pulse could win them. Others are so thin that even the most celebrated lawyer in history could lose. In the main, however, personal injury lawyers with know-how and a track record of success tend to outperform their peers most of the time when it comes to winning personal injury cases.

The Party or Parties With Liability

If we define “winning” a personal injury claim as achieving a favorable financial outcome, then we must also take account of the identity and financial resources of the party (or parties) who must pay damages to the victim. After all, the strongest evidence in the hands of the most skilled lawyer still doesn’t amount to much if the at-fault party does not have two nickels to rub together. That’s why experienced personal injury attorneys often focus their energies on identifying every individual, business, or institution that may have legal liability for causing a personal injury. The more of those parties that exist, the more options the victim may have for securing fair compensation through a settlement or at trial.

Insurance plays a significant role in most personal injury cases because most personal injury claims involve accidents and incidents covered by someone’s liability insurance. Drivers everywhere, for example, must carry minimum levels of liability coverage to insure against damages they cause others in an accident. Likewise, property owners carry homeowners, renters, and/or business liability insurance to cover them against the costs of accidental falls and other mishaps that harm their visitors and customers.

Insurance is not always the be-all-end-all, however. Sometimes the party who owes compensation to a personal injury victim has assets—bank accounts, property, and so forth—that a victim may seize as payment for damages.

Experienced personal injury lawyers evaluate the strength of a personal injury claim, in part, based on the amount of insurance coverage and assets available to pay a claim. The greater that potential pool of money to draw from, the stronger the possibility of a favorable outcome.

What You Can Do to Help Win Your Personal Injury Claim

Now that we have covered the factors that affect the potential strength of your personal injury claim, let’s examine some ways that you can improve your odds of getting the money you deserve.

Get the Medical Care You Need

Follow this general rule before any other (even before choosing the right lawyer, which we cover next).

If there is one rule that applies across the board in personal injury cases, it’s that victims need to take care of themselves. Seeking medical care and doing what your doctor tells you protects your health, first and foremost. That’s reason enough to do it.

However, in case you need extra incentive, getting the medical care you need also improves the odds of winning a personal injury case by ensuring that direct evidence exists of the most important fact you need to prove: that your injury happened. Medical records of an injury and the treatment a victim received for it play a crucial role in proving the vast majority of personal injury claims.

In addition, getting medical care protects the value of a personal injury claim. Defense lawyers and insurance companies will always look for ways to chip away at the amount a liable party must pay to a personal injury victim. One way they do that is by blaming the victim for the injuries, especially if the victim might have made the injuries worse by not seeking appropriate medical care.

Contact an Experienced Lawyer Right Away

As soon as possible, contact a skilled personal injury attorney who has experience with your type of claim. After seeking medical care, this should be your top priority. The sooner you connect with an attorney, the better your odds of winning your case.

Waiting too long to contact an attorney can have disastrous consequences for a personal injury claim. A law called the statute of limitations sets a deadline on filing a personal injury claim. The deadline varies from state to state and claim to claim, but the effect of missing it is the same everywhere: You lose your rights to compensation.

By contacting an experienced lawyer right away, you give the lawyer the greatest opportunity to collect evidence to prove your case, evaluate your options, and pursue a legal strategy tailored to your needs. That, in turn, gives you the best shot at winning.

Preserve As Much Evidence As You Can

As we explained, evidence is the backbone of any personal injury case. Do what you can to help your lawyer collect it.

To start, save everything. Throw nothing away.

Keep any documents you receive related to your personal injury in a folder or a box until a lawyer can review them. That includes insurance statements, medical records and bills, receipts for medications, and anything else that’s made of paper and has anything at all to do with you getting hurt.

Michael T. Gibson
Attorney, Michael T. Gibson

Similarly, do not throw away or fix physical items related to your accident or injury. Hurt in a bicycle accident? Set aside your damaged bike and helmet so that your lawyer can look them over. Injured when a neighbor’s dog bit you? Keep the clothes that tore when the dog’s teeth latched on. Physical evidence can make or break a case, so when in doubt, keep it.

Finally, hang on to any information you gathered at the scene of your accident and injury. Photos, videos, the names and numbers of witnesses, and other information can help your lawyer prove what happened and who owes you damages.

To learn more about how to win your personal injury claim, contact a skilled personal injury attorney today.

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We know that accidents don’t always happen during business hours. That’s why our experienced lawyers are standing by, 24/7/365, to listen to your story, evaluate your claim, and help you decide what to do next. Call us now and we’ll see if we can pursue compensation for your injuries!

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