Human beings can become injured in a variety of ways, and while some of these accidents are truly unintentional, others may be caused by someone else’s carelessness. From car accidents to slip and falls to hospital errors, at some point you may find yourself wondering if you have grounds for a personal injury lawsuit, to hold the negligent party accountable for your losses.
Our NYC injury lawyers at Silbowitz, Garafola, Silbowitz, Schatz & Frederick, L.L.P. have over 100 years of combined experience helping the injured, and our doors have been open to New York residents since 1987. If you’re debating whether you need a personal injury lawyer, you can always come to us for a free no-obligation consultation on any matters related to your accident, and we’ll help you decide on your next steps.
What Makes a Personal Injury Case?
Personal injury law is nothing if not complicated, and there are many different rules and regulations that govern cases in this practice area. In general, however, all personal injury claims share certain similarities to each other, because most hinge on the legal doctrine of negligence. Although the definition of negligence can vary depending on how you were injured, and what jurisdiction you live in, it generally means that someone failed to exercise reasonable caution under the circumstances.
Here are some of the most critical components for a personal injury claim:
- Establishing the duty of care. To hold someone responsible for your injuries, they need to have a “duty of care” towards you as the plaintiff. For example, if you are injured while trespassing, the property owner will have a much lower duty of care to protect you from a faulty staircase.
- Demonstrating negligence. No matter if your landlord failed to check the smoke detectors or a drunk driver crashed through a stop sign, you’ll need to show that the defendant violated their duty of care. Not everything can be considered a violation, but wrongful or illegal behavior could constitute negligence.
- Proving that your injuries were caused by the accident. The most fundamental element for any personal injury case is establishing a causal link between the accident and your injuries. If you had a pre-existing condition, you can still recover compensation — but under New York’s “eggshell plaintiff” rule, you’ll have to show that the accident severely worsened your existing injuries.
- Showing that your injuries were serious. While you can file a lawsuit for small injuries too, most attorneys will only recommend filing a claim when your injuries are life-threatening, or require ongoing medical treatment. Typically, this will mean that you underwent hospitalization, surgery, comprehensive rehabilitation services, or a combination of all three.
In spite of these baseline similarities, there are vast differences in how negligence may be applied. For instance, the state of New York observes a principle called “pure comparative negligence” if a car accident case goes to trial. That means the judge or jury will compare the levels of fault from each party — and although you can still recover damages if you were partially responsible, your total compensation will be proportionately reduced. In medical malpractice cases, however, the jury or judge will consider if your attending physician violated the “standard of care,” and your own fault in the incident will not be considered at all.
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If you believe your accident has all the main components of an injury case, it’s important to discuss it first with a qualified lawyer. While you can technically represent yourself in certain claims, there are many nuances involved in the process, and you could be dealing with a range of different parties, laws, statutes of limitation, and legal jurisdictions.
Here at Silbowitz, Garafola, Silbowitz & Schatz, L.L.P., we’re dedicated to helping you find a way to move forward. Without offering any excuses, our experienced and highly-skilled attorneys will go to work on your behalf and respond quickly whenever you have questions or concerns. Client satisfaction is our number one priority, and from the minute you walk through our doors, you’ll know that we’re on your side.
Do you think you have a personal injury claim in NYC? Just contact us online today!