Do I Have a Personal Injury Case?
When you are injured at work or in a traffic accident, everyone will tell you to sue the other party. You may wonder if you can sue them, or if you need to. There are actually specific legal requirements for suing someone and proving they are responsible for what happened to you.
Duty of Care
To show you have a personal injury case, the other party must have a “duty of care.” This is a legal term that means the other person is responsible to you in some way. The responsibility can be a personal responsibility, like your doctor having a responsibility for your care.
In personal injury cases, duty of care can also be the duty everyone has to obey the law. Everyone has a responsibility to obey traffic laws, such as driving the speed limit and stopping at red lights. All drivers on the road have a “duty of care” to one another, even though they don’t know each other.
Breach of Duty of Care
In legal terms, a breach of duty means that the other person did something that violated this responsibility. A driver who speeds, runs red lights, or drives drunk, has breached their duty of care to the rest of the drivers on the road. If this behavior causes an accident, they can be held liable for that breach.
Other examples include failure to act when an action is required. For instance, if there is a puddle of water on the floor, and it is the duty of a shop to clean it up, it would be a breach of duty if they failed to clean it up or did not have enough staff available to clean it in a timely manner.
The important factor is that this action or failure to act led to an accident.
Injury or Damage as a Result
To have a personal injury case, you must have suffered an injury or damage. You cannot sue for something that might have happened. You must be hurt, or your property broken because of what the other person did or failed to do.
If the person ran a red light and hit your car, you can sue for the damage to your car, and any physical injury you suffered. However, if the person ran the red light and you just saw them while you were sitting at the opposite corner, you cannot sue them because they could have hit you or someone else.
The injury or damage must be caused by what the other person did. You have a case if their car hit you. If you were watching the accident unfold and fell into an open utility hole, you would not be able to sue them for your injuries.
You Are Within the Statute of Limitations
In Louisiana, you have one year from the date of the injury to file your personal injury claim and property damage claim. If you have not filed your claim before this date, you no longer have a claim, even if all the other steps have been met.
This requirement is the main reason you should consult an attorney after any accident.
You’re Not Making Your Claim Worse
In legal terms, you have a “duty to mitigate” your injury. That means you have a responsibility to take care of your injuries and damage to the best of your ability as soon as possible. Even if the other person was at fault, you may not wait around for them to fix it. You are expected to get medical treatment, get your car or other property damage repaired, and do other things to resume your life.
You should also avoid contacting the other party, posting about your accident on social media, and dodging the insurance adjuster.
How an Attorney Can Help
If you’ve met all these requirements, you may have a good personal injury case. You should still have an attorney review your case to be certain you have covered all the legal steps, especially the statute of limitations. Other steps, such as establishing duty of care, may have to be handled by an attorney or by the insurance company.
If you are considering filing a personal injury case in Louisiana, contact Veron, Bice, Palermo & Wilson, LLC at 337-800-8800 and let our legal team review your case. We can tell you right away if your case looks solid and help you with any problems to help get you the compensation you deserve.