Throughout your life, you may be the victim of one or more personal injuries, due to the malicious intent or pure negligence of another person.
In these times, you may face steep medical bills, psychological trauma, and difficulty working in your current job, forcing you to think about filing a legal claim against the person who injured you, directly or indirectly.
But when, exactly, can you sue for a personal injury? And does it make financial and logistical sense to follow through?
On this page
Who You Can Sue
First, you should know who you can and can’t sue for a personal injury. Generally, there are three categories to consider:
- Individuals. The most obvious route is to sue an individual if they were personally responsible for the conditions that led to your injury. This is usually fairly straightforward.
- Business entities. In other cases, a business entity may be responsible for your injury. For example, a store may be negligent in failing to remove ice from the sidewalk in front of its building.
- The government. Depending on the circumstances, it may or may not be possible to sue a government agency. In many cases, if you could feasibly sue an individual for the same action, you can sue a government agency.
Types of Personal Injury
You should also consider the types of personal injuries that typically qualify for a personal injury claim. These are some of the most common:
- Car accidents. If another driver is responsible for a car collision, they’ll be responsible for any injuries you sustain in the crash. For example, drunk drivers, negligent drivers, and drivers that ignore or miss road signs will be considered responsible for any injuries they produce.
- Workplace injuries. Workplace injuries are also counted as a type of personal injury in some situations. Workers’ comp is a requirement in most areas and will cover your medical expenses, but if an individual or a business is directly responsible for your injury, it may be wise to seek more.
- Slip and fall accidents. Slip and fall accidents are common and can be caused by a variety of negligent actions, such as failing to post signage to alert patrons of a wet floor or leaving obstructions in the middle of a walking path.
- Assault. Many of the options on this list are an accident, but intentional actions to harm someone can also be considered for a personal injury case. If you’re a victim of assault, you can usually sue the person who assaulted you.
- Medical malpractice. Some cases of medical malpractice may qualify as personal injury claims. This is usually the case if it can be demonstrated that your medical provider didn’t provide you with the resources you needed to recover adequately, or if they provided you with treatment methods that actively made your condition worse.
- Dog bites. In most areas, dog owners are required to keep their dogs on leash and in control. If a dog bites you for no reason, and because the owner failed to keep the dog reasonably in line, you could have a personal injury case.
Factors to Consider
There are several variables that could influence your chances of winning, as well as the value of your settlement, should you get one.
- Causality and responsibility. First, there needs to be a clear chain of causality that ties a person’s actions (or a business’s actions) to the ultimate injury. For example, did you slip and fall because you’re clumsy, or because the business owner failed to take reasonable precautions to keep their customers safe and healthy?
- Evidence. You also need to have some kind of evidence to show how events transpired. Photo and video evidence are usually the strongest, but eyewitness testimony can also be valuable. Medical documents are also typically a pre-requisite when building a case. The stronger your evidence is, the better.
- Costs and damages. Consider the extent of the damages of this incident, and how much it’s cost you overall. For example, if you were the victim of a dog bite, but it only left a few scratches and left you with the cost of a bandage, it’s probably not worth taking legal action.
- Competing legal teams. How much of a fight are you going to face? The bigger and wealthier the person or entity you’re facing, the harder the case will be to win.
Talk to a Lawyer
The bottom line here is that you should almost always talk to a lawyer about your case, especially since many lawyers offer free consultations to evaluate your case, with no monetary requirements or commitments. With no legal expertise, it’s too hard to say for sure whether your case has merit, or whether it’s worth pursuing. A conversation with your lawyer can help clear everything up.
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