What Can You Sue For in a Personal Injury Case?

Published On: July 2, 2024
Categories: Personal Injury Law

Accidents happen every day, leaving people hurt and confused about their next steps. If you’ve suffered an injury due to someone else’s actions, you might be wondering what you can do to get help with your medical bills and other costs.

This is where personal injury cases come in. A personal injury lawyer can guide you through the process and seek compensation for your injuries. Let’s explore the different situations where you can sue for personal injury and how a personal injury attorney can fight to get the money you deserve.

Types of Personal Injury Cases

Car crashed into parked carMany different kinds of accidents and situations can lead to a personal injury case.

Here are some of the most common types of cases that personal injury lawyers handle:

Car Accidents

Car crashes are one of the most frequent causes of personal injury claims. If you’ve suffered an injury in a car accident that wasn’t your fault, you can sue the driver who caused the crash. A personal injury lawyer can gather evidence, deal with insurance companies, and fight for fair compensation for your injuries.

In a car accident case, you can sue for things like medical bills, lost income, and pain and suffering. An attorney can explain how these types of damages work and help you understand what your case might be worth.

Slip and Fall Accidents

Slip and fall accidents can happen anywhere – in stores, restaurants, sidewalks, or even in someone’s home. If you fall and get hurt because a property owner didn’t take care of a dangerous condition, you might have a case. A personal injury attorney can prove that the property owner knew about the danger and didn’t fix it.

In slip and fall cases, you can sue for medical expenses, lost income, and other costs related to your injury. A lawyer can gather evidence, like photos of the scene and witness statements, to support your case.

Product Liability

When a defective product causes an injury, you might be able to sue the manufacturer, distributor, or seller of the product. These cases can involve all sorts of products, from cars with faulty parts to dangerous children’s toys. A personal injury lawyer can determine who is liable for your injury and build a case against them.

In product liability cases, you can sue for medical expenses, lost income, and even punitive damages in some cases. An attorney can gather evidence about the product’s defects and prove how it caused your injury.

Wrongful Death

When someone dies because of another person’s negligence or intentional act, their family might be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit. These cases can arise from many of the situations we’ve already discussed, like car accidents or medical malpractice. A personal injury attorney who handles wrongful death cases can help families seek justice for their lost loved ones.

In wrongful death cases, families can sue for things like funeral expenses, lost income the deceased would have earned, and loss of companionship. A lawyer can help families understand their rights and fight for fair compensation during this difficult time.

What You Can Sue For in a Personal Injury Case

Now that we’ve looked at some types of personal injury cases, let’s dive deeper into what you can sue for in these cases. When you file a personal injury lawsuit, you’re typically seeking compensation for various losses you’ve suffered due to your injury. These losses are called “damages” in legal terms. A personal injury lawyer can help you understand and calculate the damages you can claim.

Medical ExpensesWooden blocks with words 'Damages Claim'

One of the most important things you can sue for in a personal injury case is your medical expenses. This includes the bills you’ve already paid and any future medical costs related to your injury. A personal injury attorney can gather all your medical records and work with doctors to estimate your future medical needs.

Lost Income

If your injury has caused you to miss work, you can sue for your lost income. This includes the time you’ve already missed and any future lost income if your injury will keep you from working for a longer period or if you can’t return to your previous job. A personal injury lawyer can calculate your lost income and argue for fair compensation.

In addition to your regular salary or hourly wage, you might also claim lost bonuses, commissions, or other benefits you missed out on because of your injury. If your injury has affected your ability to earn money in the future, an attorney can claim compensation for this loss of earning capacity.

Pain and Suffering

Unlike medical bills and lost income, pain and suffering damages are harder to put a dollar amount on. These damages are meant to compensate you for the physical pain and emotional distress you’ve experienced because of your injury. A personal injury attorney can document your pain and suffering and argue for fair compensation.

Because pain and suffering are subjective, having a skilled personal injury lawyer on your side can make a big difference in how much you can recover for these damages.

Property Damage

In some personal injury cases, especially those involving car accidents, you might also be able to sue for damage to your property. This can include the cost of repairing or replacing your car and any personal items that were damaged in the accident. A personal injury attorney can document and include this damage in your claim.

It’s important to keep records of any property damage, including repair estimates and receipts for replacement items. Your lawyer can use this information to pursue full compensation for all your losses.

Loss of Consortium

In some cases, your spouse can sue for loss of consortium. This refers to the loss of companionship, affection, and support that your spouse experiences because of your injury. A personal injury lawyer can explain whether this type of claim applies to your case and help your spouse file a claim if appropriate.

Loss of consortium damages can be complicated, and they’re not available in all cases. An attorney can help you understand if these damages apply to your situation and how to pursue them if they do.

Punitive Damages

In some cases, you might be able to sue for punitive damages. Unlike the other damages we’ve discussed, which are meant to compensate you for your losses, punitive damages are meant to punish the person who caused your injury for especially bad behavior. These damages are only available in cases where the person who hurt you acted in a particularly reckless or intentional way.

Punitive damages are not common in personal injury cases, but when awarded, they can significantly increase the compensation you receive. A personal injury attorney will understand if punitive damages might be available in your case and how to argue for them if they are.

The Personal Injury Lawsuit Process

Personal injury law book on a tableUnderstanding the process of a personal injury lawsuit can help you know what to expect as your case moves forward. While every case is unique, here’s a general overview of the steps involved in a personal injury lawsuit:

Initial Consultation

The process typically starts with an initial consultation with a personal injury lawyer. During this meeting, you’ll explain what happened to you, and the attorney will ask questions to understand your case better. An attorney will also explain your rights and options and help you decide if filing a lawsuit is right for you.

Most personal injury lawyers offer free initial consultations, so you can get this valuable advice without any upfront cost. This is also your chance to decide if the lawyer is a good fit for you and your case.

Investigation

If you decide to proceed with your case, your lawyer will investigate your claim. This involves gathering evidence, talking to witnesses, and reviewing your medical records. Your attorney might also consult experts who can provide insights into your case.

It’s important to follow your lawyer’s advice about medical treatment and documentation during this stage. Keeping good records of your injuries and their impact on your life can help strengthen your case.

Demand Letter

Once your lawyer has a clear picture of your case, they might send a demand letter to the person responsible for your injury (or their insurance company). This letter explains your case and demands a certain amount of compensation. Sometimes, cases can be settled at this stage without filing a lawsuit.

Filing the Lawsuit

If a settlement can’t be reached through negotiations, your lawyer will file a lawsuit. This involves submitting a complaint to the court that outlines your case against the person who injured you. The other party (now called the defendant) will have a chance to respond to your complaint.

Discovery

After the lawsuit is filed, both sides exchange information in a process called discovery. This might involve written questions (interrogatories), document requests, and depositions (sworn out-of-court testimony). Your lawyer will guide you through this process and respond to any requests from the other side.

Mediation or Settlement Negotiations

Many courts require parties to attempt mediation before going to trial. This involves meeting with a neutral third party who tries to help you reach an agreement. Even if formal mediation isn’t required, your lawyer will likely continue negotiating with the other side to reach a fair settlement.

Trial

If a settlement can’t be reached, your case will go to trial. Your lawyer will present your case to a judge or jury, including evidence and witness testimony. The defendant’s lawyer will do the same. After hearing both sides, the judge or jury will decide whether the defendant is responsible for your injuries and how much compensation you should receive.

Appeal

If either side is unhappy with the outcome of the trial, they might choose to appeal the decision to a higher court. Your lawyer can advise whether an appeal is appropriate in your case.

Remember, most personal injury cases settle before going to trial. However, it’s important to work with a lawyer who is prepared to take your case to trial if necessary to get you fair compensation.

Common Challenges in Personal Injury Cases

magnifying glass and evidence bagWhile personal injury cases can provide a way for injured people to get compensation, these cases can also come with challenges. Here are some common issues that can come up in personal injury cases:

Proving Fault

One of the biggest challenges in many personal injury cases is proving that someone else was at fault for your injury. The person you’re suing (or their insurance company) might argue that your injury was your fault or that someone else was responsible. A personal injury lawyer can gather evidence to prove who was really at fault for your injury.

Dealing with Insurance Companies

Insurance companies often try to settle cases quickly and for as little money as possible. They might offer you a low settlement right after your accident, hoping you’ll accept it before you understand the full extent of your injuries. A personal injury attorney can avoid these tactics and negotiate a fair settlement that covers all your losses.

Calculating Future Damages

If your injury will have long-term effects, it can be hard to calculate how much your future medical care will cost or how much income you’ll lose over time. A personal injury lawyer can work with medical and economic experts to estimate these future costs and ensure they’re included in your claim.

Dealing with Pre-existing Conditions

If you had a health condition before your accident, the person you’re suing might try to argue that your current problems are due to this pre-existing condition, not the accident. A personal injury lawyer can show how the accident made your condition worse or caused new problems.

Statute of Limitations

There are time limits for filing personal injury lawsuits, called statutes of limitations. If you wait too long to file your case, you might lose your right to sue. A personal injury attorney can make sure you file your case on time.

Reach Out to a Personal Injury Lawyer

Don’t try to handle your personal injury case alone. A personal injury lawyer can guide you through the process and pursue the compensation you deserve.

If you’ve suffered an injury in an accident, don’t wait. Contact a personal injury attorney today to learn about your rights and options. With the help of a skilled lawyer, you can focus on your recovery while they fight for the compensation you need to move forward with your life.