Liability in Personal Injury Cases

In most situations, an injured party (also referred to as a claimant or plaintiff), must establish that another party (or defendant) was responsible, or liable, for their injuries.

Establishing Fault

A person or corporation may be negligent if they breach a standard of care, that is, if they act (or fail to act) in the way that reasonable people are expected to. If that action causes injury to another, then the defendant will be responsible for payment of monetary damages. Sometimes liability may be based on a different standard, such as gross negligence, strict liability, or deliberate indifference. For more complex claims, an expert is typically required to testify about the standard of care or the cause of the injuries.

Proving Damages

Regardless of the standard used to prove fault, the injured party must show that they suffered injuries or loss as a result of the defendant’s actions. Some damages can be documented through medical bills, wage statements, medical and hospital bills, and other invoices. Other damages may require the help of an expert to prove, such as lose earning capacity, future lost wages, and future medical bills.

An injured person may recover damages for intangible items such as:

● Pain and suffering
● Emotional trauma
● Post-traumatic stress disorder
● Nightmares
● Memory loss
● Depression and anxiety
● Disability or disfigurement

Anticipating Defenses

At each step, the defendant’s insurance company will try to lessen their responsibility to pay your damages. For instance, the insurance company may argue that you had a pre-existing condition or injury that they are not responsible for. Or they may claim that you exaggerated your injuries after the accident or incurred unnecessary medical costs. The defendant’s insurance carrier may also argue that you were partially at fault for causing the accident. Under Michigan law, if they can prove that you were 50% or more at fault, they can avoid paying damages altogether. Experienced personal injury attorneys know how to respond to these kinds of defenses.

Choosing a Lawyer to Represent You

It is vital to find an experienced lawyer who has the skills and mindset to take on a large insurance company after a catastrophic injury. Contact us today for a free consultation.


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