What is Negligence?
Negligence is the crux of a personal injury lawsuit. For a case to hold water, your attorney must be able to prove that the defendant was negligent, that there was a failure to take reasonable care to ensure the safety of others under the particular circumstances. Essentially, your injuries must be a direct result of these actions—simply getting injured does not mean you can recover damages.
Do I Have a Case if I Have Any Fault?
In some instances, the plaintiff may have played a role in the accident or injury. Whether this affects your case will depend on where the incident occurred. Most states still allow you to recover damages, but will reduce the award by the percentage you were found to have contributed (in most cases, you need to be at less than 50 percent at fault); on the other ends of the spectrum, you have states that will not allow you to seek any damages, while others do not take your fault into account at all. Any actions taken or not taken on your part after the fact can also impact any damages; for example, if you engaged in activities that worsened your injuries or you failed to receive suggested testing or care.
How Much Money Will I Get?
There is no exact formula for determining the worth of a personal injury case. Insurance companies have established criteria and use this as a base for figuring out potential damages. Experienced personal injury lawyers may be able to give some estimates based on previous cases they have tried—again, no guarantees, but the attorney’s analysis may give you a ballpark. Primary factors in determining damages include cost of medical bills now and in the future, lost income, future earning capacity and intangibles such as pain and suffering. Some states may have maximum limits on how much can be awarded for intangible effects of the injury.
What Will an Attorney Cost?
Almost all lawyers who take on personal injury cases work on ‘’contingency.’’ This means that they only get paid if you do; how much of the settlement they are entitled to is usually regulated by the state. You should familiarize yourself with this information. In some instances, there may be costs that you are responsible for upfront or regardless of the outcome, so it is important to discuss this with lawyers you are considering to take your case.
How Long Will It Take to Settle the Case?
It is difficult to say how long it will take to settle your case because it is dependent on so many individual factors. The extent of your injuries and the time required for treatment are a major factor as the attorney will want to wait to get a clearer picture of the extent of your injuries and any future medical care you may require. There is often a lot of negotiating back and forth with personal injury cases and another factor that can affect the timeframe is how long you may be willing to fight for the maximum damages possible.
Kelli Cooper is a freelance writer who blogs about all things legal; she recommends visiting chicagopersonalinjurylawyer.com for cases in Illinois.