Personal injury lawyers look at cases with an eye for a handful of critical elements. If you're planning to pursue a claim, it's important to understand how these might influence the outcome. Clients are advised to give these four concerns some thought.
Naming a Defendant
It's not enough that something left you injured. There must be an identifiable defendant, such as an individual or a legally recognized entity.
As a rule, personal injury attorneys prefer to go up the food chain when naming defendants. For example, a lawyer doesn't want to sue the store clerk who was responsible for cleaning up a spill. Instead, they want to go after the business.
A Proximate Cause
The defendant has to have been the proximate cause of your injuries. Sometimes this is fairly straightforward, as in the previous example involving a spill at a store. Other times, though, it can be tricky.
Suppose you were hit by debris at a festival during a windstorm. If the storm came out of nowhere, most likely the weather was the proximate cause. That can make it hard to assign blame. Conversely, if the festival organizers knew for hours that dangerous winds were expected, they may be liable because they didn't evacuate the area in a timely manner. As a result, that failure to take reasonable precautions might be considered the proximate cause.
A defendant also has to be legally liable. In the simplest version, you might have clearly entered into a recognized arrangement. For example, concertgoers who pay for tickets enter into arrangements that include liability. Liability is also assumed when businesses open their doors to the public or drivers take their vehicles out.
Liability can be a little more complex the further away from a legally binding agreement you get. That doesn't mean, however, it goes away. For example, a homeowner has a minimal responsibility to prevent others from being harmed on their property.
This applies even if the person hadn't been invited, such as a child who chased a ball into their yard. If the homeowner knowingly ignored something dangerous, like failing to secure a sharp object that harmed the child, there may be liability there.
Meaningful harm had to have occurred. Usually, this means the plaintiff suffered injuries that required medical attention. If the festival visitor in the previous example only suffered a black eye, for example, that's probably not enough. Had they suffered an orbital socket fracture, on the other hand, that would be considered sufficient.
For more information, contact a personal injury attorney.