You go through life with the moral lesson that your actions have consequences and that as a result, you can control your life. Then, one day, someone else’s actions have consequences on your life instead of theirs, and it’s all flipped upside-down.
That’s why personal injury cases are so important. They shift the consequences back onto the person who caused them instead of leaving them on the victim. It might not be as if the incident never happened, but at least you have some level of justice.
Of course, that’s only true if you win your case. To determine your chances, consider these questions.
How Much Responsibility Does Each Party Bear?
When accidents and injuries happen, it isn’t always black and white with one at-fault party and one innocent victim.
Let’s say you’re driving down the road and a bug comes in your window and startles you. As a reaction to the surprise, you hit the brakes without warning. The car behind you is too close to stop so they hit you.
Technically, the driver behind you is at fault because they were following too closely. However, your reckless braking contributed to the problem too.
This might not necessarily make you lose your case. However, the court might determine that you should bear part of the cost because you were partially to blame so your settlement will be lower.
Is There Evidence of What Happened?
As lawyers often say, “It’s not about what happened, it’s about what you can prove.” It doesn’t matter how much blame the other party has if you don’t have enough evidence to make anyone believe you.
Keep in mind that in a civil case, the standard of proof is lower than in a criminal case. Instead of “beyond a reasonable doubt,” the standard is “the preponderance of the evidence.” In other words, what does the evidence lead the court to believe is most likely?
Still, you need as much evidence as you can get. Objective evidence like videos and photos will be best, as well as written admissions. Witness statements aren’t as iron-clad but are still critical.
Does Your Attorney Specialize in Personal Injury Cases?
It should come as no surprise that the better your attorney is, the more likely you are to win your case. A good lawyer doesn’t just know the law, they are well-respected by the courts and they know what it takes to win.
Your attorney also needs to specialize in personal injury law, though. There are very specific nuances to the laws and if your attorney spends most of their time on divorces, their personal injury game won’t be as strong as you need.
It can even help to choose a lawyer who specializes in the type of personal injury case you have. For instance, this auto accident attorney focuses on vehicle accidents while others emphasize medical malpractice suits.
How Much Damage Did You Sustain?
A personal injury case isn’t just about proving that someone else wronged you. You also need to prove that their actions caused clear, measurable damage to you.
Those damages can come in many forms. It could be material damage to your property, mounting medical bills, or a loss of income from missing work. Remember to account for future damages like ongoing medical treatments or lower earning potential.
As with the incident itself, you need documented proof of these damages to win your case.
How Much Time Has Passed?
You’ve probably heard of statutes of limitations for criminal charges, but did you know they exist for civil cases too?
The statute of limitations is different for various types of personal injury cases, and it varies by state too. Your attorney should be able to give you the details in your state and your situation.
However, the statute of limitations isn’t the only reason time matters. If you’re within that statute but it’s been years since the incident occurred, it can cast doubt on your evidence. Witness statements will be less reliable and other evidence can be harder to find so you’ll be less likely to win your case.
What Is the Defendant’s History?
With your personal injury case, the more egregious the defendant’s actions were, the more likely you are to win and the more your settlement will be. The courts look very differently on a one-time mistake than a pattern of irresponsible behavior.
Look for evidence that your defendant knew about the problem but failed to fix it. For instance, in the car accident example we used above, perhaps the driver had been cited for following too closely in the past.
Establishing a pattern like this makes the court more likely to believe your side of the story. It also makes it more clear that the person’s actions were deliberate.
What Is Your History?
Just as the defendant’s history affects their credibility, so does yours. In particular, consider your past history with similar lawsuits.
If you have filed a significant number of personal injury claims in the past, especially if you’ve lost those cases, it makes you look overly litigious. The court will wonder if you file fraudulent claims to scam defendants out of money.
Beyond this, other aspects of your history could come into play. For example, if you have a known past with criminal behavior, it makes the court less likely to believe you as a witness.
How to Win Your Personal Injury Case
There are so many factors that affect your personal injury case, and truth be told, not all of them are fair. Sometimes things that seem irrelevant can play a part. When it comes down to it, it’s all about choosing the right lawyer who can make the most out of your case and counsel you about what to expect.
For more tips about your case, check out more of our informative blog posts.