For Roger, it was a typical Tuesday. The hot August sun beat down as he pulled out of the bank parking lot and drove down the street. Roger’s AC had not been functioning properly, so he rolled his windows down to allow the wind to cool his car. As Roger passed through an intersection, someone who was approaching fast to turn left, who probably didn’t see Roger, slammed into the side of Roger’s car. The impact spun the car into the right lane of traffic. Unfortunately, the cars were unable to stop, so another car plunged into Roger from behind, doing even more damage.

The accident beat up Roger pretty bad. The resulting injuries included a broken tibia, whiplash, a broken arm, and bulging discs. He also had temporary vocal cord paralysis which causes you to lose your voice temporarily. These injuries made the car accident a very traumatic experience for Roger. The resulting scarring and impact on his life would be something that would affect him for the rest of his life. His wife had to help him for a few weeks with some simple tasks because of his injuries. The resulting medical bills, lost wages, and property damage was difficult to bear. However, Roger was concerned that a personal injury attorney would not take his case simply because both parties involved in the accident only had liability insurance. Roger wondered if this key detail made for a strong or weak personal injury case.

Do You Have a Personal Injury Case?

Many people go through something horrible like Roger every day, whether it is a car accident, slip and fall, pedestrian accident, etc. One of the most common questions following an experience like this is what a victim can do after an accident. For example, for Roger, the resulting injuries put him in a financially difficult position. Similar to Roger, for many people, the option of litigation provides compensation to help them avoid such problems. However, how do you know if you have a case? What are some of the signs? Unfortunately, the best way to answer this question is sitting down with a personal injury attorney. Nevertheless, there are a few things that can help you know whether you have a case or not.

Was The Accident Your Fault?

Personal injury is the legal phrase used to describe both a physical and mental or emotional injury because of another person’s actions. Personal injuries allow victims to seek legal redress. These types of legal cases depend on the legal concept of legal negligence. The Legal Information Institute defines this term as a person’s “failure to behave with the level of care that someone of ordinary prudence would have exercised under the same circumstances.” This definition begs the question, Was the accident your fault? Did the other person do something stupid or behave negligently? In Roger’s case, the answer is yes. The person should have waited for Roger to pass before trying to turn because Roger had the right-of-way.

If the accident was your fault, there is likely little you can do to win a case. Usually, those who are at-fault are cited by police. When this happens, one of your options is fighting the citation (although, this is not necessarily advisable). In these circumstances especially, it is important to speak with a personal injury attorney. He/she will be able to determine whether fighting the citations is worth it. Those who are cited after an accident are considered liable for the damage they inflicted.

Another reason it is important to speak with a personal injury attorney is that many states have comparative fault laws or comparative negligence laws. These laws essentially dictate that a person has to be more than 50 percent at-fault to pay. If both parties are at-fault 50-50, then you don’t have a case. A personal injury attorney in your area will know the state and local laws that apply and can better assess whether this applies in your case.

Were You Injured?

Another way to know if you have a case or not is if you were injured because of the negligent person’s actions. Essentially, you have to be injured. For instance, if you were driving and someone cuts you off and seriously scares you, you don’t have a case. There wasn’t any physical harm that befell you. That is not an injury. There has to be a type of physical damage. For instance, a physical injury that requires medical attention would certainly qualify if it was not your fault.

Was the Accident the Cause of the Injury?

The third indicator that you have a strong PI case if the injury was caused by the accident. This question can be complicated and is often where personal injury attorneys do many of their battles with the insurance companies, especially when the victim had a pre-existing condition. For example, if you have had demonstrated issues with your neck and the issues are slowly improving, then you are involved in an accident, and the neck problem gets worse, how much of the accident was responsible for this? In cases like this, the personal injury attorney is responsible for helping prove that the accident caused the injuries.

Often, personal injury cases deal with whether the accident could have caused the injuries. Unfortunately, sometimes there are seemingly minor accidents that can cause severe suffering and injuries. Some clients have fractured their necks in small accidents and required emergency surgery to correct the damage.

The examples used in this article relate specifically to a car accident like Roger’s mentioned above; however, the principles can be applied to almost any personal injury case. Strong answers to many of the indicators given in this article can help you know whether or not you have a strong personal injury case.

For many, even the information in this article might not provide a clear understanding regarding your personal circumstances. If this is the case, as mentioned in the introduction, seek out the help of a personal injury attorney close to you. He/she will be able to examine the gray area and help you understand whether or not you have a viable case. Fortunately, Roger was eventually able to locate a personal injury attorney who took on his case and fought for his interests. He was able to recover the money he needed to pay many of his medical bills and not allow this accident, which wasn’t his fault, put his


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Andy Gillin

Andy Gillin received his Bachelor’s Degree from the University of California at Berkeley and his law degree from the University of Chicago. He is the managing partner of GJEL Accident Attorneys and has written and lectured in the field of plaintiffs’ personal injury law for numerous organizations. Andy is a highly recognized wrongful death lawyer in California.