After being injured in an accident by the carelessness of another, many victims are legally entitled to some degree of reimbursement or compensation for their losses. These losses include damages like lost wages, medical expenses, hospital bills, prolonged rehabilitation, mental trauma, pain, suffering, property damages, and more. In extreme cases where the wrong doer demonstrated egregious misconduct or caused such trauma that compensation is not a sufficient means of amends, punitive damages may also be awarded by a court or jury.
Although a victim of a negligent act or accident is truly a victim and should be compensated for their damages, pursuing a lawsuit for such restitution may not always be in the victim’s best interest. Most often, a personal injury lawsuit is the path wrongly injured victims should take, but in some instances, it may not be the best option for a number of reasons. For this reason, it is wise to consider whether a lawsuit is a worthwhile endeavor.
Continue reading to learn a few considerations that can help a personal injury victim decide if a lawsuit is the productive course of action to take after being hurt in an accident.
Examining the Details of the Accident
After being injured in an accident at the expense of another person or entity, it is important to indicate three aspects of the incident. First, it is critical to consider the actual level of fault of the opposing party.
What was their role in the incident?
Did they have a legal duty of care to prevent such accidents from happening to the same class of people as the victim?
Would a reasonable person have foreseen the possibility of the accident happening?
Did they take reasonable action to prevent such accidents?
There is much more involved in determining fault in a personal injury case, but these are a few inquiries that come into play when assessing liability. Sometimes, it can seem like an accident was the other person or company’s fault, when in fact, they are cleared of such liability for several other reasons. If a person does not have a strong enough claim against an opposing party, or if the opposing party is not the majority at-fault, there may be no point to a personal injury lawsuit.
Comparative Fault Analysis
It is also important to consider the victim’s own liability in the accident. This is referred to as comparative fault analysis. According to USLEGAL.com, Comparative Fault Analysis is defined as, “…a doctrine of tort law which permits plaintiff and defendant to compare their liability for the accident. It allows proportionate recovery if both the plaintiff and defendant were negligent and thereby contributed to the cause of an injury.” So, one must ask themselves what was their level of fault might be? Could they have prevented their injuries? Should they have reasonably foreseen that such an accident could happen? Was what they were doing at the time of the incident reasonable?
For example, consider a winter blizzard. On a snowy and icy day, a young man visits a grocery store wearing roller skates. Although there are wet floor signs posted everywhere and the store attempted reasonable clean up, he ignores them and continues to skate his way through the store, eventually wiping out and injuring himself badly. Since a reasonable person would not wear roller skates to a grocery store in those conditions because they know that floors will be wet and slippery, and since the grocery store took reasonable action to try to clean and to post “wet floor” signs as a warning to customers, the level of fault might fall onto the man. In this case, the store would not be held liable or fully liable for his injuries. A personal injury lawsuit might be futile in this example.
Extent of Damages
And the third aspect to consider is the severity of the victim’s injury and the extent of damages incurred because of the accident. If the injury is not so serious that it caused the victim to suffer calculable financial losses like medical bills, lost wages, and loss of ability to work.
For instance, let’s say a person is wrongly rear-ended by another driver and the collision causes the airbag to deploy. As a result, the person who was rear-ended incurred minor airbag burns on their forearm but no other injuries. Because these burns are minor, they only required one doctor’s visit in which the physician orders the patient to use OTC topical ointment to soothe the burns as they heal. Because the accident did not cause them to suffer serious damages and losses, a personal injury lawsuit would be useless, although if a settlement were not reached with the at-fault party’s insurance carrier, a lawsuit in small claims court might be sufficient but again, the pros and cons of your time and effort in obtaining a small claims judgement would need to be weighed.
Had the car accident resulted in a head injury, orthopedic injury, or similar serious injuries that require extensive medical treatment and ongoing rehabilitation, the circumstance would change, and a personal injury claim and possible lawsuit would be worthwhile filing.
Prospect of Compensation
Aside from the three aspects of the accident, it is important to think about the possibility of compensation. Although a court can rule that a victim is owed compensation, the court is not the one to pay it, and neither is the government unless the claim was brought against the government. All compensation that is court- ordered to the victim or their families has to come from, in almost all cases, the defendant’s insurance company. If a defendant has no insurance, and has very little assets, income, or savings, there is little chance to get the compensation. They usually cannot pay a judgment if they could not afford to carry liability insurance. For this reason, pursuing a lawsuit is most often not worthwhile, but every case needs to be looked at individually.
Would you like to learn more about your opportunity to obtain compensation through an Indiana personal injury claim or lawsuit? Contact the Law Office of Craven, Hoover, and Blazek P.C. at 317-881-2700 to schedule a no-risk, no-fee personal injury evaluation to explore your eligibility, today. We represent clients all throughout the state of Indiana and Indiana residents injured in other states.
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