If you recently suffered an injury due to someone else’s negligence or recklessness, you may have considered filing a lawsuit against him or her in civil court. Personal injury lawsuits require a series of specialized steps to reach a settlement, from proving the at-fault party’s negligence to entering negotiations about your compensatory damages. This process is usually easier when you hire an injury lawyer. The following elements are some of the most crucial parts of a personal injury lawsuit.
Personal injury lawsuits rely on the theory of negligence. You will need to prove that the defendant owed a duty of care to you at the time of the accident and breached it, leading to your damages. You will need to establish the presence of this duty in your case, and provide evidence showing the at-fault party failed to uphold it.
The duty of care in your lawsuit will depend on the type of claim you’re filing. For example, in car accident cases, all drivers owe a duty of care to drive safely and follow traffic laws. In premises liability claims, property owners have a duty to keep their properties in safe condition.
After establishing the duty and breach of care, you will next need to prove that the breach of care directly caused the injuries you suffered. Your medical records, expert witnesses, surveillance footage, and witness testimony can help establish causation. For example, if you were in a car accident with a driver who ran a red light and hit the back of your vehicle, you can establish the breach of care by pointing to the traffic law violation.
If you suffered a concussion after hitting your head against the steering wheel during this crash, your doctor’s examination of your injuries will help you prove the accident was the cause.
In a personal injury case, you must have suffered damages due to the accident that you can claim in this lawsuit. These damages can be economic, involving your direct financial losses, or non-economic, which include intangible pain and suffering damages. Common types of damages in personal injury cases include the following.
Your Portland personal injury attorney will help you determine which damages you qualify for, along with the estimated settlement you should accept.
Not all personal injury lawsuits proceed to the courtroom; in fact, most cases settle out of court during mediation. In mediation, you and your attorney will meet with the at-fault party and his or her lawyer to discuss your claim and attempt to reach a settlement agreement. In some cases, mediation will be successful, and you will receive a settlement at this stage. However, if the at-fault party refuses to settle or offers a lower amount than what you need, your case will proceed to trial.
You can receive a settlement during negotiation or at the conclusion of your trial. In the courtroom, the judge or jury will hear arguments from both sides and decide whether or not to award you a settlement. If you do receive a settlement, the court will also determine the amount of this compensation.