What is negligence, and how does it affect a personal injury claim?

In order for an individual or entity to be held responsible for your injury, you need to prove that the responsible party’s reckless or careless actions (or inaction) led to your injury. You must show that:

  • The responsible party owed you a duty of care. In general, any person or entity owes a duty of care to anyone who may be put in harm’s way due to their choices.
  • The responsible party committed a breach of that duty of care; that is, he or she acted carelessly or recklessly in a manner that put you in harm’s way.
  • The responsible party’s actions were the cause of your injury, and;
  • The responsible party caused you to suffer damage, such as physical injury.

Because there are specific legal criteria needed to establish negligence, we highly recommend consulting an attorney from our firm.

What should I do after I’m injured?

Your first priority should be to make sure the scene of the accident is safe. Call emergency services as appropriate and cooperate with law enforcement and medical professionals.

Document as much of the accident as possible, but only if it is safe to do so. For instance, after an animal attack, you may not be able to take a picture of the animal without exposing yourself to further danger. At a minimum, however, take pictures of any visible injuries and any property damage.

See a doctor as soon as possible, even if your injuries seem minor. You may have internal bleeding or another injury that takes time to become readily apparent. Getting medical help right away will protect your health. In addition, if you wait to seek treatment, an insurance company may use that delay to deny your claim.

Report the injury as necessary to your insurance, your employer, law enforcement, the person responsible for the premises or any other entity that has a need to know. However, stick to the facts of what happened, and don’t say anything accepting responsibility for your injury. Your statements could be used against you.

Contact our firm as soon as possible to get a committed attorney on your side. You can direct anyone else seeking comment about your injury to speak with your lawyer.

What are damages, and how do I know how much my case is worth?

Damages are financial compensation paid by the party responsible for the injury (or his or her insurance) to the injured person. There are three common types of damages:

  • Compensatory damages pay for actual financial losses you’ve suffered due to the injury. These include objectively measured losses such as medical bills, lost wages, physical therapy and, if you are permanently disabled, future earning potential. Compensatory damages also include some more subjective losses such as pain and suffering, emotional distress, loss of enjoyment of life, grief, anxiety, and humiliation.
  • Punitive damages may be awarded by a jury if the defendant’s conduct was particularly egregious. An insurance company may also be ordered to pay punitive damages after acting in bad faith. Punitive damages are intended to punish the responsible party and thus can exceed the actual financial cost of the accident.
  • Nominal damages are sometimes awarded in cases when the jury agrees that you have been wronged, but the actual financial loss suffered was negligible. Nominal damages are generally fairly small sums.

Why do I need a trial lawyer on my side? Don’t most cases settle out of court?

It’s true that many personal injury cases are resolved before they reach trial, but that doesn’t mean you don’t need a trial lawyer. Insurance companies know that most personal injury lawyers aren’t willing or prepared to go to trial, and that gives them extra leverage in negotiations. People represented by those lawyers often end up settling for less money than they need to actually make themselves whole again.

At Ardalan & Associates, we prepare every case for trial from day one, and that level of preparation makes a difference. Insurance companies and their attorneys know that we won’t back down, and often, they’ll offer a settlement that pays for everything you’ve lost as a result of the accident. Make no mistake: If they offer anything less than that, we won’t take it. Instead, our committed, passionate trial lawyers will present your case before a judge and jury, and our winning record in court speaks for itself.

Personal injury law is fairly complex, and the process of collecting the damages you need can be quite long and confusing. We hope this information will help guide you after an accident.