Do I Have a Personal Injury Case?

If you have been hurt in an accident, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries. Although some people are hesitant to file a lawsuit, thinking that "accidents just happen," it is important to understand that personal injury litigation can bring you the financial relief necessary to adequately cover your medical expenses and daily living expenses in the face of lost wages and benefits. A personal injury lawsuit is not about vengeance or vindictiveness; it is about providing yourself and your family with the help you need from those responsible for your losses. When you are confronted with costly medical bills, lost wages, and other damages, and insurance companies refuse to adequately cover your losses, it quickly becomes clear that a personal injury lawsuit may be the best way to protect your recovery. How do you know if you have a valid personal injury claim following an automobile accident, slip or fall, defective product injury, or workplace accident? Consulting an Oklahoma personal injury lawyer for a free evaluation of your case is the best way to determine the validity of your claim, but there are certain factors you may wish to consider before calling. Accidents do happen. They are not intentional, but they can leave significant damage in their wake. Sometimes, and accident is unavoidable--just bad luck for those involved. However, more often, an accident is caused by someone's negligence or carelessness. If your own carelessness caused your injury, you likely do not have a personal injury claim, unless an attorney can demonstrate that someone else caused or contributed to your injury as well. A personal injury lawsuit only be successful if your accident attorney can prove three things:

  1. The accident was caused by someone else's negligence,
  2. you sustained a compensable injury in the accident,
  3. and your injury was caused by the negligent act.
Negligence, injury, and causation are critical elements in any personal injury case. If one or more of these items is absent, the case will likely fail. Negligence is carelessness or failure to do what a reasonable person would do. If a driver fails to obey traffic signs or signals, then he or she is not doing what a reasonable person should. If a store owner fails to adequately maintain his or her property, clean up spills, or remove ice from walkways, then he or she is not doing what a reasonable business owner should. If a physician does not follow medical protocols, missing a diagnosis or botching a surgery, then he or she is not doing what a reasonable medical professional should. In each of these cases, the person's negligence can cause a serious accident, and if an injury occurs as a result, he or she can be held liable. If you were not injured in an accident caused by someone's negligence, than you cannot hold them liable for an injury that did not take place. The injury must be "compensable." Your hurt feelings or a minor bruise that requires no medical attention are not enough for a personal injury lawsuit. However, if you require medical care or time off work for recuperation, the person whose negligence caused the accident can be required to pay compensation for those losses. Non-economic impacts of an injury--pain and suffering, loss of consortium-- may also be compensable, but they are generally awarded in conjunction with a settlement or judgment for a compensable physical injury or wrongful death.