Do I Have a Personal Injury Case? Four Key Elements of a Claim

Navigating the process of pursuing a personal injury case can be daunting for many individuals. The ambiguity surrounding the steps to take, such as hiring attorneys, collecting evidence, and going to court, can be overwhelming. And the pressing question is always, “Do I have a personal injury case?”

You know you’re injured but are unsure if you have a case. You may be wondering who will be held liable for your damages, how much money you may receive, how long it will take, and, most importantly, whether all of this effort will be worthwhile.

In this blog, we’ll go over some of the most important aspects of a personal injury case and outline the process to help you decide what to do next.

What Falls Under Personal Injury Law?

A personal injury is any physical or emotional injury that you suffer due to someone else’s negligence. 

Personal injury law can encompass a wide range of incidents, including but not limited to:

  • Car accidents
  • Slip and fall accidents that occur on someone else’s property, such as in a store or at a hotel, due to hazards like uneven pavement or a wet floor
  • When a healthcare professional provides substandard care that leads to injury or death (also known as medical malpractice)
  • When a consumer is injured by a product that is defectively designed or manufactured
  • If a person is bitten or attacked by someone else’s dog
  • When a person dies as a result of another person’s negligence or intentional actions

In each case, you will have to prove another party’s negligence or intentional actions caused the injury. 

Personal Injury Claim Requirements

The first step to understanding whether or not you have a personal injury claim is to determine who was at fault for the incident that caused your injuries. Fault is a term generally used to describe liability (i.e. that someone did something wrong and they shouldn’t have).    After that, it’s necessary to show that you were injured as a direct result of that wrongful conduct.

Even if you identify who is at fault, your next question might be, “How do I know if I have a personal injury claim?” If your case contains the following four claims, you should meet with an experienced attorney at Tuley Law Office.

1. Duty to Exercise Reasonable Care

After determining the person who did the wrong (i.e. the tortfeasor), you must prove that the person or entity at fault owed you a duty of care.

 The duty to exercise reasonable care is the legal obligation of a person to handle their property or conduct themselves in a way that does not injure another. This means taking steps to ensure their actions don’t injure others. 

For example, in a slip and fall case, the plaintiff has the burden to prove that the defendant had a legal duty to prevent hazards on the property that could cause injury. Generally, the property owner must identify any risks and take the necessary steps to minimize or eliminate them, and property owners owe the highest duty of care to customers or what are referred to as business invitees.

It’s important to remember that the laws and regulations regarding the duty to exercise reasonable care can be complex. If you believe you have a valid claim, it’s always a good idea to consult with an Indiana attorney experienced in personal injury law.  

2. Failure to Exercise Reasonable Care (also known as negligence)

The defendant did not act as a reasonably prudent person would have in the same situation. This can include driving too fast or not securing a load on a truck properly.

For example, in a medical malpractice case, the plaintiff must prove that a doctor failed to provide adequate care. This usually means the doctor broke a rule or did not follow standard procedures. 

Indiana has adopted the concept of negligence per se in some cases.  According to this principle,  conduct is automatically considered negligent when it violates a statute or regulation meant to prevent specific harm, like regulation for building codes, traffic laws, etc.

3. The Failure to Exercise Reasonable Care Results in Injury i.e. Causation

To prove causation in a personal injury case, the plaintiff must show that the defendant’s actions played a significant role in causing the harm. This can  be difficult to establish,  as multiple factors contribute to an accident or injury.

It’s also important to note that Indiana follows a modified comparative negligence rule. This means that even if the injured party is found to be partially at fault for the accident, they can still recover damages. However, the amount will be reduced by the percentage of fault attributed to the injured party. 

For example, suppose the court determines that the plaintiff was 20 percent at fault and the defendant was 80 percent at fault. In that case, the plaintiff’s damages will be reduced by 20 percent.

4. Actual Damages Suffered Because of Another’s Negligence

Actual damages are the losses suffered directly from another party’s negligence. The most common damages in personal injury claims include medical expenses, lost income, and pain and suffering.

We’ve all heard of the phrase, “No harm, no foul.”  The same applies to the law.  If there are no actual damages, there isn’t a valid personal injury claim. For example, if there is a slip and fall hazard on a property and someone slips and falls on it but doesn’t suffer any damages, there is no personal injury claim to be made.

If these elements are present, you may have a personal injury case. However, it is crucial to seek legal advice from an experienced attorney who can help evaluate your situation and determine whether or not you have grounds for a claim. In most cases, filing a personal injury claim can be complex and involve many steps best handled by an experienced professional.

How Do I Know If I Have a Personal Injury Claim?

There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question. Determining if you have a personal injury claim will depend on your case’s specific facts and circumstances. Some factors to consider are the severity of your injuries, who was at fault for the accident, and how much money was spent on medical treatment and other related expenses. 

The statute of limitations for personal injury cases in Indiana is generally two years from the date of the injury. However, some exceptions to this rule may affect the statute of limitations. For example, if the injured person is under 18, the statute of limitations will be paused until the person turns 18. 

In Indiana, there are prerequisites to the statute of limitations for suing a city or county government that are different from the prerequisites to the statute of limitations for personal injury cases generally. According to Indiana law,  you must file a tort claim notice, which must contain certain information,  within a specified amount of days of the date of the injury or damage depending on the governmental entity responsible.

If you believe you may have a personal injury claim,  speak with an experienced attorney as soon as possible to learn more about your rights and options. 

What Evidence Will I Need in a Personal Injury Case?

When it comes to proving a personal injury claim, evidence is key. In a  personal injury case, the defendant may argue that they did not have a duty to exercise reasonable care or that they fulfilled that duty. However, documentation and witness testimony may help prove that the defendant did not meet the required standard of care. In that case, you may be able to establish a duty to exercise reasonable care by statute, common law, or a contractual relationship. 

Specific forms of evidence may include:

  • Medical records: These can include records from doctors, hospitals, and other medical providers that document your injuries, treatments, and prognosis.
  • Medical bills: These can include bills for medical treatments, medications, and other expenses related to your injuries.
  • Witness statements: These can include statements from people who saw the accident or incident that caused your injuries or who can attest to the effects of your injuries on your life.
  • Photographs or videos: These can include pictures of the scene of the accident or incident, pictures of your injuries, or videos of the accident or incident.
  • Expert witness testimony: This can include testimony from experts in fields such as medicine, engineering, or accident reconstruction to help establish negligence and causation.
  • Police reports: This can include the police report of the accident or incident that caused your injuries.
  • Physical evidence: This can include any physical evidence related to the accident or incident, such as the vehicle involved in a car accident or the broken steps in a slip and fall case.

An experienced attorney can help you identify the types of evidence that are best for your case and collect that evidence on time. 

It’s also important to keep in mind that in a personal injury case, the burden of proof is on the plaintiff. They need to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that the defendant was negligent, that this negligence caused the plaintiff’s injury, and that the plaintiff suffered actual damages. The more and stronger evidence you have to support your claim, the better chance you have of succeeding

Settlement or Litigation?

When pursuing a personal injury claim, you may have the option to settle out of court or litigate in court. Each option has pros and cons.  Consider your unique situation before deciding which route to take in your case. 

Legal advice from an experienced attorney who can evaluate your case can help you decide between settlement or litigation.  They can also explain each option’s risks and benefits so that you can make an informed decision.

Tuley Law Office in Evansville is Ready to Help You

Ultimately, personal injury claims are complex and require an experienced attorney’s expertise to protect your rights. If you believe you may have a valid claim, speak with a lawyer as soon as possible. Our expert personal injury team of attorneys can help evaluate your claim and determine if you have grounds for a personal injury claim.

At Tuley Law Office, we understand the pain and suffering that comes with a personal injury. Our goal is to provide personalized legal services tailored to our client’s needs. We will fight to get you the compensation you deserve.

Contact Tuley Law Office today for a consultation if you or a loved one has been injured in an accident. We are here to help. Fill out our online contact form or call us at 812-625-2149.