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How Do I Know If I Have a Strong Personal Injury Case?

On Behalf of | May 14, 2024 | Personal Injury and Wrongful Death |

After suffering an injury, or the injury-related death of someone close to you, it is natural to ask yourself if you might be entitled to compensation. Regardless of whether you are in the United States of America as a citizen, resident, tourist, or other status, or even if you are illegally in the country, you have the same basic rights to seek compensation for your injuries or the death of a loved one caused by the negligence of another. Additionally, taking such legal action will have no impact on your current or future right to travel to or be present in the United States of America.

In the United States of America, there are over 2,000,000 vehicle accidents annually, with over 40,000 of those resulting in death. Regardless of whether you are injured in a vehicle accident (car, truck, motorcycle, etc.), as a business invitee (hotel guest, business customer, amusement park/entertainment venue guest, etc.), or under other circumstances, there are three (3) basic, and equally important, factors to consider in determining whether you might have a legal right to compensation. The following analysis is not limited to the United States of America and can be seen as a starting point in almost any jurisdiction.

The three (3) basic factors needed for a successful personal injury case are 1) Liability, 2) Damages, and 3) Recoverability. Addressing each in turn:

1. Liability

Liability is an analysis of fault. The analysis can be reduced to determining whether someone and/or some entity, other than the injured or deceased person, is fully or partially at fault for what happened. The liable person(s) and/or entity(ies) is the potential defendant(s) in a lawsuit.

For example, in a vehicle accident case, the analysis centers around whether the other party failed to meet the standard of care, owed to other drivers on the road, to drive with reasonable care. In cases where the other driver drives through a red light, fails to stop at a stop sign, or collides into the rear of another vehicle, the issue of liability may be very clear and 100% on the other party.

In other cases, such as an assault while staying as a guest at a hotel or other place of business, the analysis of liability may not be so clear. As a business invitee (for example as a paying guest at the hotel), the hotel must provide you with reasonably safe premises and may be liable for negligent security or other causes of action if it fails to do so. Hotels and other businesses must also warn you of hidden dangers, which are dangers that are not open and obvious. Such dangers may include wet floors, changes in floor elevation, and high crime risk areas.

We can assist you in analyzing the liability of others involved in your case and in gathering evidence supporting same.

Follow this link if you want to read a detailed analysis on Liability in personal injury cases.

If you want to watch a short video of John Urban, head of litigation at UTPA, speaking on the topic of litigation please follow this link: What is Liability?

2. Damages

Once the liability factor has been addressed, the next factor is damages. This is made up of the economic and noneconomic damages resulting from the incident at issue.

The economic damages are relatively straight forward. These are the amounts of money spent by you or on your behalf as a direct result of the incident at issue. These damages include expenses of hospitalization, medical care and treatment, (even if paid by insurance or other third party), property damage, and other items that can be readily reduced to an amount of money.

The economic damages also include the amount of money that you did not receive, which you would have received but for the incident, such as lost wages, loss of earnings, loss of ability to earn money, future lost income, etc., even if a disability insurance or other third party may be paying some or all of those damages.

The noneconomic damages usually make up the much larger part of a damages award. These damages include pain and suffering, disability, disfigurement, scarring, mental anguish, loss of the capacity for the enjoyment of life, aggravation of a previously existing condition, etc. These amounts can be very high, especially for permanent injuries such as broken bones, those requiring surgeries, traumatic brain injuries (TBI), disc herniations, etc. where you will be suffering the damages for the rest of your life. In such cases, a judge or jury can take into account your remaining life expectancy. By way of example, if due to an accident you will live the rest of your life with only one eye and you are awarded $50,000 per year and have a 35 year life expectancy, you may be awarded noneconomic damages of $1,750,000 ($50,0000 x 35 years) for that injury.

We can help you analyze the potential damages amounts related to your case and the gathering of evidence to support same.

Follow this link if you want to read a detailed analysis on damages in personal injury cases.

If you want to watch a short video of John Urban, head of litigation at UTPA, speaking on the topic of litigation please follow this link: What are Damages?

3. Recoverability or Collectability

After determining the issues related to liability and damages, it is equally important to determine whether there is a source of funds from which to collect or recover any damages awarded. This determination starts with the analysis of any insurance policy or policies which may cover the damages at issue. This includes insurance that may be held by the you or purchased by you in connection with your travel to the Untied States of America, such as in connection with a car rental agreement. Without a potential source of recovery, a case may not be viable.

We can assist you in analyzing the prospects of being able to actually recover or collect any damages awarded to you.

Follow this link if you want to read a detailed analysis on collectability in personal injury cases.

If you want to watch a short video of John Urban, head of litigation at UTPA, speaking on the topic of collectability, please follow this link: What is Collectability?

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