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Lawsuits & Litigation

How to Know if You Have a Personal Injury Lawsuit

— January 19, 2022

The chance to file a personal injury lawsuit is not available forever. Each state has its own time requirement for potential plaintiffs who hope to recover for their personal injuries in court.

Personal injuries may leave victims burdened with medical bills, unable to work, and struggling with issues in their personal life. If you were injured through no fault of your own, you may be interested to learn how you might recover financial compensation from the party that actually was responsible.

An injury victim may pursue a lawsuit against the party that negligently caused an accident that resulted in damages. To determine whether you might be able to benefit from a personal injury lawsuit, you will have to consider who was responsible and how they caused the injury, as well as the damages that you sustained. Don’t take too long though because the clock is always ticking.

Identify the Defendant

If you believe you should be compensated for your personal injury, your first step should be to identify the responsible party. You will name that party as the defendant in your formal lawsuit.

In a personal injury lawsuit, the defendant is the person, company, or entity that is alleged to be responsible for your harms. Typically, the defendant must have owed the victim (or “plaintiff”) some legal responsibility based on their relationship. For instance, when you go into a retail store, the store may owe you a duty to avoid injuring you with hidden dangers around the store.

However, some situations may be more complicated. As an example, imagine the retail store is in a larger shopping mall. In this case, one or more of the mall operator, property owner, and the store may owe you separate or overlapping duties. You may be able to name multiple defendants in the same lawsuit. In any case, you should consult an Arlington personal injury attorney if you are having trouble identifying the defendant for your potential personal injury lawsuit.

Determine Whether the Defendant was Negligent

Once you identify the party or parties that owed you a duty, you will have to figure out whether they satisfied their obligations under that duty. Successful personal injury lawsuits must demonstrate that the defendant negligently, recklessly, or intentionally violated (or “breached”) their duty to the victim.

The most common of these three theories is negligence since it is the easiest to prove. If the defendant owed you a duty and negligently failed to satisfy the duty, you may have the grounds for a personal injury lawsuit. To use the above example, store owners owe a duty of care to their patrons to notify them of any potential dangers that could cause a patron foreseeable harm, such as a wet floor. A manager’s failure to put out a sign warning that the floor is wet would likely be considered negligent.

Did the Negligence Cause Your Injury?

Your personal injury lawsuit will require more than just demonstrating that the defendant breached their legal duty. You will also have to establish that the defendant’s breach was the cause of your injury.

Each state has different rules for how a court will determine causation. Usually, the plaintiff must show that their injury would not have occurred “but for” the negligence. Some states have rules that may limit a plaintiff’s recovery or even prevent it entirely if the plaintiff shared some fault in causing the accident or the injury itself. Discuss your case with a knowledgeable personal injury lawyer who is aware of your state’s rules to learn how best to prove that the defendant’s negligence caused your personal injury.

Calculate Your Damages

When a personal injury plaintiff wins their case, they are entitled to compensation from the defendant for the harms that they have suffered. Therefore, a personal injury lawsuit is typically impossible if you don’t have a basis for proving the financial consequences of your accident.

Always get medical attention for your injury immediately after your accident. Establishing a medical record of diagnosis and treatment will be critical for your recovery efforts. You can claim damages for every aspect of the medical care associated with your treatment, such as emergency room services, physical therapy, specialist appointments, surgeries, and even hospital parking.

Your damages are not limited to just medical bills. You can also claim additional damages for lost wages from missed time at work, as well as the pain and suffering associated with your recovery. Enlist the help of a lawyer in recording all of the expenses that you incur while dealing with the fallout of your injuries so that when the time comes, you get what you deserve in damages.

Keep an Eye on the Clock

Clock face; image by Age Barros, via
Clock face; image by Age Barros, via

The chance to file a personal injury lawsuit is not available forever. Each state has its own time requirement for potential plaintiffs who hope to recover for their personal injuries in court. These time requirements, also known as statutes of limitation, bar plaintiffs who file too late from recovering anything for their claim.

For example, in Texas, the statute of limitation runs for two years from the date of the accident. If you were injured on January 15, 2022, you would have to file your formal lawsuit with the court prior to January 15, 2024, or else your case would be thrown out. Your Plano personal injury lawyer can manage deadlines and reduce the chance that you miss any critical filing requirements on your path to recovery.

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