When it comes to personal injury cases, the common perception is that they involve slip-and-fall cases or car accidents. Of the two, the one that’s ever-present in people’s minds tends to be auto accidents — especially if you live in Tampa Bay. This is due to all the crashes you’ve likely seen (or experienced) on your daily commute. Then there are the myriad billboards overlooking every freeway in the region. If you live in Tampa, Clearwater, or St. Pete, it’s impossible to miss them. But, what makes an injury claim a personal injury case? Are there any elements required by law for them to qualify as such?
What type of case is a personal injury case?
Any type of incident where a person gets injured due to someone else’s fault could constitute a personal injury case. These are civil actions where a tortfeasor (the person who caused the damage) faces financial liability for your losses. There are different types of scenarios where this could happen. The most common ones include:
- Auto accidents
- Falling on someone else’s property (premises liability)
- Being injured by a defective product (product liability)
- Medical malpractice
- Dog bites
- Exposure to asbestos
- Food poisoning at a food establishment
Personal injury cases are negligence cases. In order to prove someone was negligent, the law requires four elements:
Someone has a duty of care. When it comes to driving, this means following all traffic laws. When it comes to hosting the public on premises, this means, ensuring there’s adequate lighting and additional safety measures — such as ensuring the floor isn’t wet, that there are no items that may cause a person to trip, and a level floor, to name a few.
This is what happens when the person who owes a duty of care — to other motorists, the public, consumers, and/or patients — fails to comply with that duty. Examples include speeding, driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, placing a defective product into the stream of commerce, or failing to install handrails on stairways.
In order to prevail in a personal injury case, you have to show that your injuries were caused by breaching a duty of care. For example, if you are in a car accident because a drunk driver hits you, your damages are the result of the drunk driver breaching their duty to comply with traffic laws. However, if you fall on someone else’s property because you spilled your own drink and tripped on your untied shoes, the causation element is not met.
This constitutes all of your losses that wouldn’t have occurred but for the breach of duty. It includes current and future medical costs arising out of your personal injuries, repair costs for personal property (such as car repairs), lost wages, loss of consortium, emotional distress, and/or wrongful death if a loved one perished because of the accident.
How do you prove a personal injury case?
Every case requires a process that’s called discovery. During this step of a lawsuit, your attorney requests all relevant information that may prove your case. This includes surveillance videos, witnesses, experts (such as doctors, accident reconstruction experts, or engineers who design products). These experts can testify about the types and extent of damages you’ve suffered, how a specific type of impact can cause your specific injuries, or whether a product is defective.
In addition, the other party’s attorney can request information about you — including medical records, pay stubs, tax returns, or take your deposition (sworn testimony) to determine whether you were partly at fault for the accident. This last portion is important because Florida is a comparative negligence jurisdiction. This means that if you were partly to blame for an accident, your award would be reduced by your own percentage of liability.
Have you been injured in a personal injury case? Call Us at Clark Law for a Consultation
There are many factors that affect the outcome of a case. If you or someone you love was involved in a car accident or other type of personal injury case, call us at (855) 680-4911 or schedule a free consultation. We’ll consider all circumstances to determine your best next step. We can also ensure that you receive proper compensation for any present as well as future medical expenses relating to your neck injuries.
Disclaimer: This blog is for informational purposes only and does not create an attorney/client relationship.