Personal injury law primarily involves the legal principles surrounding the law of negligence. A person who is injured through the carelessness or recklessness of another person or corporation has the right to sue for the damages sustained because of that negligence.
In order to have a valid personal injury case, the injured person must be able to prove to a jury the following facts:
- That the defendant was negligent.
- That the negligence was the cause of the person’s injury.
- That the person sustained damages (bodily or psychological injury).
There is also the fourth requirement, although not technically a legal one; namely, that the defendant has insurance or significant assets so that there is money available to pay a damage award made by the jury. There is no point in spending hundreds of hours in pretrial litigation and a trial if the result is a money judgment that cannot be collected due to the lack of assets or insurance on the part of the defendant.
There are dozens of types of personal injury cases – car wrecks, medical malpractice, premises liability (a fall in a store or parking lot) – that it would take dozens of pages to describe them all. But one can define the basic core of a negligence case; namely, that the defendant failed to adhere to common-sense rules of conduct to such a degree that it resulted in bodily injury to an innocent person.
The first thing an injured person should do is not contact a lawyer (that comes later). Rather, item number one is to get prompt medical attention, either at a hospital or physician’s office. The insurance company of the at-fault driver (the defendant) will assume that you did not sustain a serious injury if you delay too long before getting medical attention.
Once you have started a course of medical treatment, you should then call an attorney to obtain legal advice on your best course of action going forward. Insurance companies will try to settle your case quickly, spending as little money as possible. You should not allow yourself to be pressured into a hasty settlement until your physician states that you are medically stable.
DEALING WITH INSURANCE COMPANIES
You should not give a recorded statement to the insurance company of the defendant. Insurance claims adjusters can be quite astute in formulating questions designed to steer you to admit that you were not seriously injured.
By contrast, you should be very cooperative with your own insurance company. A typical motor vehicle policy will contain provisions for payment for some of your medical bills without requiring you to submit them to your health insurance company, for which you are subject to deductibles and co-pays. Moreover, most insurance policies contain provisions that can deny you any coverage whatsoever if you fail to timely inform your insurer that you have been in a motor vehicle collision.
It is also important that, when purchasing your own car insurance, you include a provision for Underinsured Motorist Coverage. This portion of the insurance policy provides you with coverage for your injures in the event that that the at-fault driver has no insurance or a policy dollar limit inadequate to compensate you for your injuries.
Idaho citizens who have been injured due to the negligence of others are entitled to monetary compensation for the following damages:
- Past and future medical bills.
- Past and future wage loss.
- Past and future pain and suffering and disfigurement.
If you have been injured due to the fault of others, do not delay in getting competent legal advice after you have received medical attention. Contact Post Falls Law at (208) 328-6215 for a free initial consultation.