Accident vs Personal Injury Case: Understanding The Difference

Unfortunately, the truth is that people are injured in tragic accidents everyday. Even when exercising extreme caution it is possible that you will be involved in an accident. In many cases, these accidents simply cannot be avoided and therefore will not support a personal injury claim. However, some accidents will qualify for compensation under current personal injury laws. Understanding the difference between these cases and a run of the mill accident claim can help you to determine whether or not your recent accident requires the attention of a personal injury lawyer.

Establishing Liability

There is a big difference between simply blaming someone for causing your accident and establishing their legal liability. While another individual may be the cause of your injuries, they will only be held legally liable if their actions were negligent or incompetent. For instance, an individual who chooses to drink and drive is acting in a negligent way and can therefore be held legally liable for any accidents that result from their carelessness. However, an individual who suffers a stroke behind the wheel had no way to predict their medical emergency, and was therefore not careless in their decision to drive. As a result, this individual cannot be held legally liable for any resulting accident.

In order for your accident case to make the transition from a simple claim to a personal injury case, you will need to establish the presence of legal liability in your claim. In other words, if there is no one to collect compensation from, there will be no personal injury case. Therefore, these claims are reserved only for cases in which legal liability can be established.

Establishing Loss

Another key element of a personal injury case is the presence of measurable losses. These losses will typically be referred to as real or actual damages and cover the financial losses that you suffer as a result of your accident. For instance, if you required medical treatment in order to recover from your injuries, the cost of this treatment will be considered the real damages in your case.

In order for a financial loss to qualify as real damages, this loss will need to come with a specific monetary value. Again, using the example of medical costs, your real damages would be equal to the exact dollar amount of your medical bills. If a loss does not have a specific monetary value, such as a claim for pain and suffer, it will be considered punitive damages rather than actual or real damages.

In order for your accident claim to be pursued under personal injury laws, you will need to prove the presence of real damages. While you can also seek compensation for punitive damages, these damages cannot be sought independent from actual damages. Talk to experts like Mauro Savo Camerino Grant & Schalk for more information.