The Anatomy of a Personal Injury Case

Determining Negligence in Personal Injury Cases

Most personal injury cases require the plaintiff  to prove negligence on the part of the defendant.  What is negligence? Negligence is essentially the failure to exercise reasonable care.  In order to prove negligence, certain “elements” of the claim must be proven. First, the plaintiff must show there was a duty of care on the part of the defendant. Second, that duty of care must have been breached. Third, the defendant’s conduct must be the proximate cause of the injury. Last, the injured party must prove damages as a result of the defendant’s action or inaction.

Breach of Duty of Care

A breach of duty of care is the failure of the defendant to fulfill a duty that was owed in the situation that caused injury or death. A breach could be a failure to act, or an action that was unreasonable or unlawful given the circumstances (i.e. running a red light, a distracted driver, or a Dr. prescribing the wrong medication).

Proximate Cause

An injured party must prove that the defendant’s breach of duty of care was the proximate (immediate) cause of the injury.

Types of Damages in a Personal Injury Case

A Plaintiff must provide evidence of the type of injuries sustained and the extent of those injuries, as well as any financial losses, since the purpose of a claim is to obtain compensation. Types of Damages include medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, emotional distress, and lost future earning capacity.

Comparative Damages - What If You are Partially At Fault?

Even if you are partially at fault for an injury or accident, you may be able to recover. Sometimes both the plaintiff and defendant are partially at fault. In that instance, Illinois and Indiana, a plaintiff can recover damages so long as the plaintiff is no more than 50% at fault.  In other words, if the plaintiff is found to be 51% or more at fault, recovery is completely barred.

What Should I Do (Or Not) After An Auto Accident in 2020?

Do not apologize for anything or say, “I’m sorry” at the scene.  Sometimes you may think you are at fault but you are unaware of some other factors that actually caused or contributed to the collision. Ask if anyone is hurt.  If so, call 911.  Do not leave the scene if someone is claiming that they are physically injured.  Write down the names and numbers of any witnesses. Exchange insurance information and identification.  Write down the other vehicle’s license plate. Hire an experienced attorney immediately (personal injury attorneys charge a percentage of the recovery, so it won’t cost you anything) and do not let any insurance company take a recorded statement of you. Order a copy of the police report as soon as possible because your attorney will want to see the report. Gather and organize all medical bills as they accrue.

How Insurance Companies Investigate A Claim

Typically, the most important factor an insurance company assesses is the police report since it is prepared by an unbiased police officer after interviewing the witnesses and parties involved at the scene. If you gave a recorded statement, an insurance company will also try to use those statements against you, or any other statements you made at the scene of the accident. 

Chicago Personal Injury Lawyers

McNamara Legal has practiced personal injury law for over twenty years. We are based on Chicago and also serve Indiana.  We’ve earned a reputation for aggressive advocacy for those who have been killed or injured in a vehicle accident.  To obtain the compensation you deserve, seek confidential legal advice immediately from McNamara Legal Chicago, Illinois (click here).

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