So many times I have people call me about whether or nor they have a case. I tell them all the same thing: There are two parts to every personal injury case. First, you must prove liability. Second, you must prove damages. You can’t just have one or the other. You must have both.
Proving Legal Liability.
Proving liability simply means whether or not the party you are suing is legally responsible for your injury. In most personal injury cases, that requires that you prove “Negligence.” Negligence simply means failing to use reasonable care under the circumstances. For instance, a driver who runs a red light would be negligent for causing an accident. That is because the laws requires everyone to pay attention and obey the traffic laws when operating a motor vehicle. Failing to do so can make you legally liable for the accident.
Proving Injury or Damages.
The next part of the equation is proving damages. “Damages” simply means the losses you sustained as a result of an occurrence. If your car was damaged in an automobile collision, then you are entitled to recover the cost to repair your vehicle. If you were injured, then you would be entitled to things like medical expenses and lost wages. You may also be entitled to additional damages such as pain and suffering, mental anguish, physical disfigurement, and physical impairment. The amount you are entitled to collect depends on many other factors such as the actual costs incurred and severity of the injuries sustained. Click here to read about how to evaluate a personal injury case.
Liability, But No Damages.
Every successful legal claim must have elements of both liability and damages. If one part of the equation is missing, then you do not have a case. For example. you would have no case if you are in a car accident, but sustain no damages to your car or no injury. You might be able to prove that the other driver was negligent and legally liable for causing the accident. But you have nothing to collect since you suffered no losses or injury. It’s just like the old saying: “No Harm, No Foul.”
Damages, But No Liability.
On the flip-side, if you suffer an injury, but there is no party legally responsible for the incident, you do not have a claim. This scenario that can be the most heart-breaking for me to explain to people. Sometimes, people call me who have suffered very serious injuries, but I cannot accept their case because there is no legal basis to hold any particular party responsible for the incident. You see this in many “slip and fall” and “trip and fall” cases. You may trip over a step and break your leg. However, I have to explain that there is no case. There is no case because no other party was negligent in causing the incident.
You Must Have Both Liability and Damages.
To sum up, you do not have a case just because someone did something wrong or just because your were injured. You have to have both parts of the equation in place. You must prove that you suffered some injury or damages, and that another party is liable for causing your injury. If any part of the equation is missing, then you do not have a case no matter how egregious the conduct or how seriously you were injured.