What Do Attorneys Look for When They Evaluate a Personal Injury Case?
When attorneys examine a potential personal injury claim to determine its merits and worth, they usually consider a number of factors, including:
The most important factor is liability. In order for a plaintiff to recover damages for a personal injury, they have to prove that the injuries they suffered were due to the negligence of another party.
Liability can be simple to prove when fault seems obvious, such as when a drunk driver caused an auto accident, but more difficult if liability is not clear, as when there is some comparative fault on the part of the injured party.
In Colorado, if a plaintiff is found to be more than 50 percent at fault for an accident or injury, they are not allowed to seek or recover damages. The less they are at fault, the more they can potentially recover in an injury claim.
Economic damages include medical expenses, lost wages, property damage, and loss of future wages and earning capacity. Once liability has been established, a personal injury attorney will look at determining the nature, severity and potential permanency of your injuries by examining your medical records. Permanency is usually the most important consideration, as a relatively minor injury that is permanent will usually demand a higher recovery than a severe injury that heals quickly.
The at-fault party is only responsible for paying reasonable and necessary medical expenses related to the accident. For example, if a doctor notes that some of your injuries are not accident-related, the at-fault party’s insurance company will deny reimbursement.
Any wages you lost as a result of the accident, future loss of earnings, and diminishment or loss of your capacity to earn are all economic damages that an injured person is entitled to be compensated for. Although a settlement should fully compensate a victim for all their economic losses, loss of future earnings and earning capacity can sometimes be hard to prove and may require the opinion of an economist or some other type of expert witness.
You may be entitled to get compensation for non-economic damages, especially if your injuries are severe. These damages may include:
- Pain and suffering — compensation for pain and discomfort you suffered as a result of the accident, both directly after the accident and on an ongoing basis.
- Emotional distress — damages meant to compensate a personal injury plaintiff for the psychological impact of an injury, which often includes fear, anxiety and the inability to sleep.
- Loss of enjoyment of life — when your injuries keep you from pursuing the hobbies, recreation and exercise you enjoyed prior to the accident.
- Loss of consortium — the impact your injuries may have on the intimate relationship you have with your spouse.
What’s My Case Worth?
When evaluating your case, an attorney will ask many questions about the circumstances surrounding the accident and the harm you suffered. Based on the facts of your case, an attorney will be able to determine whether or not another party is liable for your injury and what your claim might be worth.
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