Do I Have Grounds for a Personal Injury Claim?
Accidental injuries can jeopardize your physical, emotional, and financial wellbeing. If someone else was responsible for the incident in which you were hurt, though, you may be entitled to compensation for the resulting damages.
Since most successful personal injury claims are founded on negligence, it will be the focus of this blog. Unless your case involves strict liability or intentional wrongdoing, you’ll have to prove the following elements to pursue a payout:
- The defendant owed you some kind of duty of care;
- The defendant somehow breached this duty; and
- The breach caused you actual damages.
While taking action won’t erase the trauma you’ve experienced, it could at least yield the funds needed to put your life back together. As such, you’re probably wondering how to prove these essential elements. Let’s take a closer look at each below:
1. A Duty of Care
Characterized by a legal obligation that’s either established or assumed, a duty of care requires you to act as any reasonable person might given the circumstances. For example, you assume a duty of care to those in traffic around you every time you get behind the wheel. You have an obligation to follow the rules of the road and to avoid driving while drunk, drowsy, or distracted.
2. A Breach of Duty
A breach of duty is essentially the definition of negligence. Were you struck by an impaired motorist? Did your surgeon fail to provide adequate aftercare?
The specific breach will depend on the facts of the case. Regardless of the circumstances, though, you’ll have to obtain plenty of evidence of the defendant’s negligence in order to build a strong claim. If you were hurt in a car accident, for example, such evidence might include:
- The official police report;
- Toxicology reports;
- Eyewitness testimony;
- Dash cam footage;
- Surveillance recordings of the scene; and
- Black box data.
3. Associated Damages
You must have incurred actual damages as a direct result of the defendant’s breach of duty. In South Dakota, personal injury claimants may seek compensation for both monetary and non-monetary losses, including:
- Medical expenses;
- Lost wages;
- Loss of earning capacity;
- Property repairs;
- Replacement services;
- Home and vehicle modifications;
- Mental anguish;
- Loss of enjoyment in life; and
- Pain and suffering.
Regardless of the value of these damages, South Dakota caps payouts arising from both medical malpractice and product liability at $1 million. It’s also worth noting that if your case doesn’t involve mere negligence but, rather, willful, wanton, or malicious conduct, you may be entitled to a punitive award in addition to the compensatory damages listed here.
Discuss Your Case with a Personal Injury Lawyer in Rapid City
To see if you have grounds for a personal injury claim, contact Beardsley, Jensen & Lee, PLLC. Our founding partners carry the highest rating conferred by Martindale-Hubbell.
By letting us handle the logistics of your case, you can focus on more important matters, like your health. Call 605-721-2800 or fill out our Contact Form to schedule a free consultation with a personal injury attorney in Rapid City.
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