Personal injuries are commonplace, but after an incident occurs, there are often questions about what to do next. Who and what caused the incident? How can you determine personal injury liability?
Determining Fault in a Personal Injury
Determining fault for damages is one of the first steps in a personal injury case. Personal injury liability will be the determining factor for insurance settlements and personal injury lawsuit decisions, so it is important to identify the correct responsible party. If you decide to hire representation, your personal injury attorney will conduct an in-depth investigation to determine the liable party. The liable party’s insurance provider will conduct a secondary investigation, and then both parties will begin the negotiation process. If the liable party is uninsured, or both parties cannot agree on a settlement, then you may be in a position that necessitates filing a personal injury lawsuit. Most of the time, personal injury incidents are the result of the negligence of the liable party. Negligence is defined as any act that results in unexpected injury or damages to another party, or any act that is considered to fall below the expected duties of the liable party.
Negligence & Proving Personal Injury Liability
There are four elements of negligence that will need to be proven in order to hold a party liable for the injury. To ensure personal injury liability you must prove that these elements exist as well as minimize all arguments against the injured party that may be responsible for any of these four elements.
The liable party breached an obligation that they had to other parties involved in the situation. That breach of obligation resulted in another party’s personal injury.
The liable party had a legally binding duty to others that the liable party failed to follow.
The liable party was the direct cause of injury for other parties involved.
The injured party must prove that actual loss occurred due to the liable party’s actions.
Proving that these four elements exist can be more difficult than you would think. No matter the circumstances, in every personal injury case liability is proven using facts and evidence.
Building a Strong Case Against the Liable Party
Proving that another party is liable for your personal injury is a key first step to negotiating a fair settlement amount. A strong case of personal injury liability can be used to convince the insurance provider that the insured was at fault, keeping you out of the courtroom and avoiding the costs that come along with a personal injury trial. A well-structured liability argument is hands-down the simplest and cheapest way to obtain an equitable settlement for your injuries. The basis for any strong liability argument is personal injury evidence. The process of gathering evidence begins the moment the accident occurs. In any incident, be it a car accident, slip-and-fall, malpractice, etc., the injured party should document information from the event with as much detail as possible. Here are some pieces of information that you can put together yourself so your attorney can use it for evidential reference.
- Photos of the scene, preferably as soon as possible after the incident has occurred.
- Personal information from all parties involved, including officer’s names and badge numbers, employee’s names and titles, etc.
- Any reports written on the incident. This includes police reports, company incident reports, etc.
- Video footage of the scene if it is available.
- Contact information for any witnesses on the scene.
Your attorney will be able to acquire all other necessary information or any information that you have trouble receiving. When giving your statements or recalling information it is important to be as honest as possible. Even small pieces of information that you give that are proven false can affect your argument of liability and make it more difficult to negotiate a settlement. Your attorney will handle putting together all evidence including conducting witness depositions, hiring experts to consult, and structuring evidence into a strong argument.
Shared Personal Injury Liability
Especially in personal injury cases, shared personal injury liability is commonplace. When both parties are found to be somewhat responsible for damages they must share the liability. When liability is shared, the two parties must arbitrate the percentage of damages each is responsible for. Even if the injured party carries 100% of the cost of damages, the secondary party may only be responsible for compensating only partially. Example: A motorcyclist is speeding in a motorcycle-only lane, traveling 40 miles of the legal speed limit. A minivan is traveling at the legal limit but momentarily cuts over into the motorcycle-only lane to avoid an object in the road. The two parties collide and the motorcyclist is injured. The minivan driver is responsible for the accident because they cut into the lane. But the minivan driver can argue that, because the motorcyclist was traveling at such high speeds, they were unable to see the motorcyclist coming. The two parties may share liability for the accident, therefore also sharing the cost of damages to the motorcyclist.
Hiring a Personal Injury Lawyer
Whether it’s proving liability, gathering evidence to support your claim of liability or arbitrating shared liability, determining fault is an overwhelming task. Add on different laws and regulations for states and different rules for each type of personal injury and the task may seem impossible. That is why the personal injury lawyers at TorHoerman Law are well versed in the Illinois and Missouri laws of liability for a wide variety of personal injury incidents. Contact us if you have any questions regarding possible personal injury litigation, and we would love to help you work through not only liability but all aspects of a personal injury case.
Learn More About the Lawsuit Process:
- Personal Injury Lawsuit
- Why Hire a Personal Injury Attorney?
- Gathering Evidence
- Assessing Damages
- What are Compensatory Damages and Punitive Damages?
- Receiving Compensation
- Premises Liability Guide
- What is a Bellwether Trial?
- What is a Multidistrict Litigation (MDL)?
- Statute of Limitations Guide
- What are the Steps in a Civil Lawsuit?