Are you familiar with tort law? More than likely, you’ve heard the words used in conjunction with tort reform as a means of limiting payouts on negligence claims. Meanwhile, you may not totally understand what one has to do with the other.
Negligence actions fall under the broad classification of tort law. When you’re involved in an accident, it’s often due to another party’s carelessness, also referred to as negligence. However, it’s really a bit more expansive than that.
If you look, the dictionary definition of negligence calls it a “failure to exercise the care toward others which a reasonable or prudent person would do in the circumstances, or taking action which such a reasonable person would not.”
If you’re like most people, the formality might sound a bit convoluted. Meanwhile, you need to add something else to understand the anatomy of a negligence claim. You can’t pursue one without damages.
Damages? What in the world does that mean?
Just about everyone has witnessed some version of a horrific car crash. It’s always remarkable when someone walks away unscathed from a banged up and flipped-over vehicle.
It might be easy to prove that another driver caused the automobile accident. However, harm or injury remains a necessary element of every negligence case. These equate to damages when you’re seeking money damages for a claim for personal injury.
Pursuing a negligence case relies on a few elements of proof, which is something you can rely on an experienced personal injury attorney to establish on your behalf.
No doubt you can guess that negligence claims don’t just revolve around motor vehicle crashes. They also include medical malpractice cases, as well as premises liability actions and injury lawsuits related to defective products.
Dissecting the Basics of a Negligence Claim
The first step to pursuing a negligence claim consists of gathering information. If you’ve been injured and think someone else was at fault, you need to meet with an attorney as soon as possible. Personal injury lawsuits don’t come with indefinite filing limitations.
In the meantime, you don’t want to risk missing critical evidence because you waited too long. For example, your lawyer could retain an investigator to speak with key witnesses. Unfortunately, many people have problems when it comes to playing back their memory of events.
You should also maintain a log or diary documenting your medical treatment. Keep a record of your bills as well. All of this information adds to proof of your damages.
Dealing with the Insurance Company
It might come as no surprise. The insurance company for the individuals responsible for your accident would much rather deal with you directly than with an attorney you retain to represent you.
If negligence is undisputed, an insurance adjuster might even offer you money to settle the case. However, won’t you always wonder if you received proper compensation?
That’s not to say that settlement isn’t necessarily the way to go. In truth, only a small percentage of personal injury lawsuits wind up in court.
Meanwhile, you shouldn’t be concerned about paying for legal counsel upfront. Personal injury lawyers represent clients on a contingency basis. This means attorneys’ fees are based on a percentage of the successful recovery on your behalf.
What if You Need to Go to Trial?
Although it’s the exception rather than the norm, your case might need to go to trial. It could be that the defendant’s lawyers deny liability for your accident.
However, that’s not the only reason you could find yourself in court. Perhaps there’s a question of preexisting injuries or allegations regarding your contribution to the accident.
Experience matters. And, no doubt going to trial sounds more than a little scary. You might not need someone to literally hold your hand through the process. However, you’ll certainly feel comforted with an advocate by your side.
With more than 40 years of combined experience, the personal injury attorneys at Fellerman & Ciarimboli strive to provide the best service to clients in Philadelphia, Northeast Pennsylvania, and throughout the Keystone State.