Personal injury lawsuits sometimes get a bad reputation because most people don’t really know what “counts” as a personal injury. After all, sometimes an accident really is just an accident.

The defining element of a personal injury lawsuit is fault: whose actions (or inactions) resulted in your injury? And were those actions (or inactions) caused by negligence, neglect, abuse or indifference – or were they the result of genuine ignorance on behalf of another person?

The role of the personal injury lawyer

It’s a tricky thing, determining fault. Let’s say you’re in a store and a box falls off of the shelf and hits you on the head. It seems like a freak accident, right? But what if that box fell because it wasn’t properly secured the way it was supposed to be? Now it seems like your head injury was the result of someone failing to do his or her job correctly.

That’s where the personal injury lawyer comes in. We’re the ones who collect the evidence that proves your injuries were caused because of someone else’s negligent behaviors. In a case like the one we described, we collect that evidence by reviewing:

  • The accident report
  • Your medical records
  • The store’s history of accidents as well as its safety policies and training policies
  • Any video of the incident (if the store has a surveillance camera in place)
  • The circumstances that led to you being in that exact space when the box fell

If the box that fell weighed, say, 40lbs, and you ended up with a traumatic brain injury because of it, then you might be entitled to compensation for your medical bills, any wages you lost because the injury kept you from working, and any pain and suffering you felt. As personal injury lawyers, it’s our job to look at the evidence and the injury you sustained, and then make a determination as to whether or not you can successfully obtain that compensation. We then do one of two things: we negotiate on your behalf for a settlement from the insurance company, or we pursue a case at trial.

The most important thing to remember is that YOU have the ultimate decision about which path to follow. Your personal injury lawyer doesn’t make the decision whether to settle or go to trial – YOU do. All we can do is make recommendations based on what we know you deserve. If the falling box gave you a bump on the head and a mild concussion, a settlement might be worth it. If the box caused you to go blind temporarily, or caused irreparable brain damage, then going to trial to seek the maximum amount of compensation for your injuries may be the better course of action.

If you’re unsure whether or not your circumstances warrant a lawsuit, give Rocky McElhaney Law Firm a call. We’ll walk you through it so you can make a good decision, and we’ll let you know if a lawsuit is a bad idea.

Other Personal Injury 101 Entries:

Personal Injury 101: What is an Accident Reconstructionist?

Personal Injury 101: Loss of Consortium as non-Economic Damages