What You Can Expect In Your Personal Injury Lawsuit

Establishing A Personal Injury Case

To prevail in your personal injury claim, you must prove to the court that the defendant (responsible party) is responsible for your injuries. In most cases, this is done by showing the defendant's negligence. To do this, the elements of negligence must be established based on the facts of your case. The elements of negligence are:

  • Duty of care — A reasonable person is held to a legally recognized duty of care. This means a person must prevent reasonable harm to another by his or her actions or inaction.
  • Breach of duty — A defendant breaches this duty by failing to meet the standard of care. Based on the circumstances, this could mean a failure to warn, failure to keep the plaintiff safe or behaving in a way (conduct) that caused the plaintiff's injury.
  • Causation — Causation is often the most difficult element to prove. The defendant must have been the direct or proximate cause of the plaintiff's injuries. Generally, a "but for" test is used to show causation. The plaintiff's injuries would not have occurred if it hadn't been for the defendant's behavior (action or inaction).
  • Damages — The plaintiff must show that due to the defendant's breach, he or she suffered harm and incurred loss.

Damages In A Personal Injury Case

If each element is established in the plaintiff's case, the court may award damages for losses. Most damages awarded are compensatory. They are to compensate the plaintiff for actual losses incurred or suffered. The court will consider many factors when determining the amount of compensatory damages. The factors may vary depending on the specific facts of your case. Examples may be pain and suffering (physical and/or emotional), lost wages, medical expenses, future medical treatment, loss of consortium, loss of household duties, loss of quality of life, disfigurement, disability and loss of parental guidance.

Although some jurisdictions may award punitive damages in addition to compensatory damages, Washington generally does not. Punitive damages are available in extremely rare circumstances to punish the wrongdoer for malicious or intentional conduct. The type and availability of damages may depend on the facts of your case and the applicable law.

Contact Putnam Lieb Potvin in Olympia, Washington, today to schedule a consultation with a personal injury attorney to discuss your situation. Call 360-596-9539 or 877-551-2871 or send us an email online to discuss the details of your case in a free initial consultation.

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