To Sue Or Not To Sue? That Is Often The Question In A Personal Injury Case
If you have suffered an injury and a person or company is to blame, you may wonder if you can win compensation by bringing a claim in court.
According to the State Court Caseload Digest so-called “personal injury” claims comprise only a small percentage of in-court cases. Personal injury claims arise when a third party causes an injury to a person, either negligently or intentionally. Collectively, negligent and intentional injury claims are called “torts.”
One possible explanation for the relative dearth of in-court personal injury claims is that many claims settle before a lawsuit is brought. The most common type of personal injury claim—the car-crash case—nearly always involves one or more policies of automobile insurance, because drivers are required by law to carry insurance when they operate motor vehicles. Oftentimes insurers are motivated to settle cases with injured parties before a claim is filed in court. This arrangement is commonly referred to as an “out-of-court settlement.”Injured Persons Must Establish Liability Before Winning Damages
Persons injured in North Carolina by negligent or intentional conduct are entitled to money damages. To obtain money damages, however, an injured person must first prove that the at-fault party committed a negligent or intentional act that caused the injury. Many times, when negotiating with insurance companies, injured persons and insurance companies consider what a jury would award an injured person if the person brought a claim in court.
Of course, if the at-fault party denies liability, an insurer may offer nothing, and suing may be the only option to win a recovery. If an injured person cannot establish that an at-fault person or entity is liable for the injury, the person’s damages are irrelevant. No damages are available to an injured person who fails to establish liability.Settlement Values Are Often Tied to What Parties Think A Jury Would Award
Once an injured person establishes that a third party is liable for one’s injury, the injured person can obtain damages for the injury. Damages include the costs of medical treatment, compensation for expected future medical treatment, compensation for any permanent injury, for lost wages or lost income opportunity, and for pain and suffering.
In many cases in which liability is clear, an at-fault party or insurer will deny that the tortious act—or the act causing an injury—was the proximate cause of the injured person’s need for treatment. This can occur in a claim in which, for instance, a person injures one’s low back in a rear-end car crash, but the person suffered low-back pain for years prior to the crash, and the person’s pain level is the same after the crash as before the crash.
When an at-fault party or insurance company agrees that an injured person is entitled to damages, the at-fault party or insurance company may often dispute the amount of compensation due to an injured person. In most cases, an injured person demands more compensation than an at-fault party or insurance company is willing to pay. When negotiating, the injured person, at-fault party, and insurance company may look to jury awards from other similar cases to determine how much compensation to pay in a case.Experienced Personal Injury Attorneys Can Help In Injury Cases
Because personal injury attorneys deal with insurance companies and the courts on a regular basis, they may possess a unique insight into the best ways to present a claim—both for settlement purposes and in a court of law. Experienced personal injury attorneys are familiar with and know how to combat the common defenses raised to claims. Insurance companies and defense lawyers are constantly looking for ways to deny liability and to limit the amount of compensation awarded to injured persons.Statistics Show Some Claims are More Difficult than Others
The United States Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, reports that some 16,000 personal injury lawsuits are filed per year. Over half of those claims involve car crashes. Other commonly litigated claims include medical malpractice claims, dog-bite incidents, and property negligence claims.
The Department’s statistics show that plaintiffs—or injured persons—prevail in about half of cases that go to trial.
- Plaintiffs prevail in about sixty-two percent (62%) of car-crash cases;
- Plaintiffs prevail in about half of intentional tort cases;
- Plaintiffs prevail in about thirty-eight percent (38%) of products liability cases;
- Only nineteen-percent (19%) of plaintiffs prevail in medical malpractice trials.
The statistics set out above show that the result in a personal injury case can vary greatly depending on the unique facts and circumstances of a case. The experienced Charlotte personal injury lawyers at Arnold & Smith, PLLC can help an injured person develop the best way to present a case and can help maximize the amount of compensation a person wins. Contact us today at 704-370-2828 to schedule a free consultation with one of our experienced professionals.