So you were hurt in an incident, whether it be a car accident or medical malpractice. You received care from a doctor and are taking the necessary steps to regain your physical and emotional wellbeing. But how do you know if you have a lawsuit as a possible option?
We’ll break it down for you.
In the most basic sense, you need two factors to argue a tort claim: liability and damages. Liability means that the defendant was somehow responsible for harming you in the incident. Damages means that you can prove the extent to which you suffered as a result of the incident.
In considering the defendant’s liability, you need to ask yourself whether that party was negligent. If you were injured because that other party failed to take the necessary steps toward safety, then they were negligent.
For example, let’s say you were in a car accident. You are driving home one night on the highway and a drunk driver swerves out of his lane. He crashes into your car and you find yourself in the hospital with broken ribs.
That driver was negligent by consuming alcohol before getting behind the wheel. Why? Because, as a driver, he had a duty to be safe while maneuvering his vehicle. Therefore, he is liable for your injuries.
If you believe that you have reason to argue these necessary elements, then you can file a lawsuit.
The next step is to find a personal injury attorney. And when it comes to this phase, time is of the essence because of the statute of limitations. In New York, the limit is three years after the incident. If you wait too long, then you will lose your opportunity to file the claim.
Once you have met with an attorney, he or she will attempt to negotiate with the other party to see if you can both reach a settlement. If not, then your lawyer will file the lawsuit. Then, the negotiations will occur again. If no settlement can be made, then the case will go to court. However, very few personal injury cases reach this stage.