An injury claim goes through the civil justice system to try to obtain financial compensation for an accident victim. An injury claim is something an injured party can file against one or more parties for allegedly causing the harm in question. After a car accident, for example, a victim may be able to a personal injury attorney
to file an injury claim against the at-fault driver for damages.
A lawyer will search for certain elements required for a valid injury claim when a client comes to him or her for assistance. The client will schedule a free consultation, ask questions about his or her accident and explain what happened to the lawyer. Then, the attorney will determine if the accident victim has a case by looking for a few main elements.
Filing Before the Deadline
A lawyer must file a personal injury claim before the state’s deadline, or statute of limitations, for a valid claim. The courts in Texas do not allow many exceptions to the statute of limitations. They are very strict in which cases they hear and which they deny. In Texas, the time limit on a personal injury lawsuit is two years from the date of the accident or discovery of an injury. A lawyer must file a claimant’s personal injury lawsuit within two years or forfeit the right to demand compensation at all.
A Defendant With a Duty of Care
Identifying the defendant is one of the first tasks necessary for an injury claim. The defendant is the party the victim blames for the accident and injuries. A defendant could be a physician, driver, property owner, product manufacturer, employer, criminal and/or other parties. Naming a defendant may take an investigation of who or what caused the plaintiff’s injuries. Many injury claims involve more than one party sharing fault for the incident.
Once the attorney identifies the defendant, the next task is to gather proof the defendant owed the plaintiff a duty of care at the time of the accident. A duty to exercise reasonable care is something the defendant may have owed the plaintiff according to the circumstances or relationship. A doctor, for example, owes special standards of care to his or her patient. The defendant must have owed the plaintiff a duty of care at the time of the accident for a valid claim. Many attorneys hire expert witnesses to help establish the defendant’s duty of care during injury claims.
Proof of Negligence or Breach of Duty
The second element of proof needed for a valid injury claim is negligence. The legal doctrine of negligence is the foundation for most personal injury claims. Proving negligence means to show the defendant breached his or her duty of care to the plaintiff, causing the accident and injuries. A breach of duty could be any act of negligence, careless, disregard or intent to harm the defendant exhibited toward the plaintiff.
The lawyer will also need to establish a causal relationship between the defendant’s breach of duty and the plaintiff’s accident or injury. Negligence alone is not enough to prove a defendant’s liability for damages. The defendant’s negligence must have been a substantial factor in causing the plaintiff’s damages. Otherwise, the defendant may not be liable for the accident. Causation is an important element a lawyer must prove in any injury claim.
Evidence of Damages
Finally, an attorney needs proof of a victim’s damages for a valid injury claim. Even if the defendant had been negligent, this would not be grounds for a claim unless the victim suffered specific damages as a result. Damages can refer to any economic or noneconomic losses the victim experienced because of the defendant’s breach of duty of care. Texas civil courts allow victims to file lawsuits for both or either type of damages.
- Physical injuries
- Emotional distress
- Pain and suffering
- Medical expenses
- Loss of income
- Lost quality of life
- Loss of consortium
- Wrongful death damages
- Property damages
- Punitive damages
Proof of a victim’s damages can come in the form of hospital bills, health care receipts, lost wage documents, pay-stubs, photographs, property repair quotes, interviews with witnesses and testimony from the plaintiff him or herself. Documenting the types and values of a victim’s damages is a necessary part of any injury claim in Dallas.