Personal injury cases rely on tort law. Tort laws protect you from a range of actions by others that harm you physically or mentally. To recover compensation for your injuries, you must meet several elements.
These elements depend on how you were injured. If you can meet these elements, you have a strong personal injury case that may result in a settlement or damage award.
Elements of a Personal Injury Case
You have the burden of proof in a personal injury case. You need evidence to establish each of the elements of your case. The other party can raise defenses, but they are not required to. Instead, you must have evidence to persuade a judge or jury.
You have three theories available to prove your personal injury case:
The tort of battery happens when a person or entity intentionally makes harmful contact with you. To prove liability for battery, you must show that the other person had the intent to cause harmful contact. You do not need to show they meant to hurt you. Simply showing their action was performed intentionally will be enough.
You do not need to show they meant to make contact with you. If they intended harmful contact with someone, the fact that you were on the receiving end will be enough. For example, if someone threw a bottle into a crowd during a bar fight, you can prove intent.
Negligence allows you to pursue injury compensation when you cannot prove intent. In negligence, you only need to show that a reasonable person would have appreciated the risks regardless of whether the other party appreciated them. Specifically, you must prove:
- The other party owed you a duty of care
- They breached the duty of care by acting in an objectively careless manner
- The breach caused your injury
- The injury resulted in damages
Negligence is the most common basis for personal injury claims. Car crashes, slip and fall accidents, medical malpractice, and other claims all require proof of negligence. For example, in a car crash claim, your attorney might present the following case:
- All drivers owe a duty of care to other road users to drive reasonably safely
- The driver breached the duty by texting and driving, an objectively dangerous act
- They rear-ended your car because texting distracted them from driving
- The collision caused injuries that resulted in medical bills and prevented you from working
The main differences between intentional and negligent torts are the requirements that you prove intent and damages. With intentional torts, you must prove intent, but not damages. With negligence, you do not need to prove intent, but you must show you suffered damages.
In some cases, parties get held strictly liable for the injuries they cause. These cases are limited under California law to dog attacks and defective products. To prove liability in these cases, you only need to show that the other party was responsible for the instrument, such as the dog or the defective product, that injured you.
Evaluating Your Case
Armed with this knowledge, you can evaluate your case. You need evidence to prove the elements of your case. Evidence includes anything that tends to prove a fact at issue. It can include:
- Records, videos, photos, or other documents
- Eyewitness testimony
- Your testimony
The standard of proof in civil cases is called a preponderance of the evidence. This means “more likely than not.” Thus, you would use your medical records to prove it is more likely than not that your car accident caused your concussion.
The Typical Course of a Personal Injury Case
Personal injury cases almost always start with an insurance claim. Insurance policies cover a wide range of liabilities:
- Auto insurance covers vehicle, pedestrian, and bicycle crashes
- Homeowner’s insurance covers home slip and fall accidents and dog bites
- Professional liability insurance covers medical malpractice
- Business liability insurance covers slip and fall accidents in shops and restaurants
The insurance claim will include copies of your evidence to show the insurer the strength of your case. Your injury lawyer will work with the insurer to settle your claim. But if the insurer refuses to make a fair settlement offer, you can pursue a lawsuit against the at-fault party.
You will again present your evidence at trial along with any additional evidence your lawyer uncovers. The judge or jury will decide the case on the strength of that evidence.
Resolving Your Injury Claim
Not every injury will support an injury case under the law. But if you have evidence to prove liability, an injury lawyer can help you by preparing an insurance claim or lawsuit to pursue compensation for your losses.
Since 1992, our personal injury attorneys at the Pines Salomon Injury Lawyers, APC. have been fighting for the people of San Diego. Now, when those injured in automobile accidents – including car, truck, and motorcycle accidents – need financial help, or for the families that need to know that the loss of a loved one could have been prevented, there is a personal injury law firm in San Diego that is on their side. If you or a family member has been injured, call the lawyers at Pines Salomon Injury Lawyers, APC. There’s never been a better time than right now to speak to a personal injury attorney—FREE of charge. Call us at 858-551-2090 or request a free consultation online today!
SENIOR PERSONAL INJURY ATTORNEY & FIRM FOUNDER
Michael Pines is a former insurance company attorney who graduated from the University of California Hastings College of the Law in 1987. While he was an insurance attorney, he learned from behind the scenes how insurance companies work and how they decide how much to pay injured people. Now that he works against insurance companies, Michael’s inside knowledge has resulted in significant benefits to his clients injured in car accidents. Learn more about Michael Pines