Is my Injury Serious Enough for a Lawsuit?

Here at Ladenburg Law, we get emails from people every day, wondering if their injury is serious enough for a lawsuit.

While we can’t speak specifically to your situation (do see our disclaimer), we can offer up some general information about the kinds of injury cases we accept. This may help you in understanding when your injury is serious enough to file a lawsuit.

NOT EVERY INJURY WARRANTS A LAWSUIT

Let’s be clear from the start: not every injury warrants a lawsuit. Even if that injury was the result of a medical error. Or a property owner not keeping his building up to code. Or the neighbor’s dog biting your finger.

There’s something that you should know about us personal injury lawyers. Most of us work on a contingency basis. That means that our clients only pay us if we’re able to win them a settlement. Some cases, such as medical malpractice cases, can take hundreds of hours of time. We gather and review medical documents, call in experts, do background checks. It’s not uncommon for us to foot the bill for thousands of dollars upfront to prep a case for trial.

This is why we always meet with prospective clients first. We want to hear what happened and get an idea of how much the injury has cost you.

CALCULATING THE COSTS OF YOUR INJURY

So, how would we calculate the costs of your injury? When it comes to personal injury, there are two kinds of damages: economic and non-economic. 

Economic damages are those costs we can assign dollars to. These are things like medical bills and lost wages. You might also have had to hire a housecleaner since you’ve been hurt, or a landscaper. We can add up miles driven to and from doctor’s offices and appointments. Injuries requiring lengthy hospital stays and ongoing medical treatment tend to fall into the “serious” category.

Non-economic damages are the intangibles. Pain, suffering, and mental anguish falls under this category. Also consider how your life has changed since the injury. Maybe you were an avid mountain climber before the accident, and now that’s off the table. Or, maybe you’re left with severe PTSD after a car accident and unable to set foot in the car again. Bottom line, we want to know how your quality of life has changed since the injury.

If your injury was serious, we would expect the damages (both economic and non-economic) to be high. In this situation, a personal injury lawsuit is a way to restore your significant losses.

EXAMPLES OF INJURIES WITH HIGH DAMAGES

In our experience, the following types of serious injuries often have higher damages:

  • Limb amputations
  • Burn injuries
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Paralysis
  • Brain injuries
  • Loss of eyesight
  • Significant scarring or disfigurement

As you can see from the list above, these kinds of injuries carry a risk of death. They are often permanent and life-altering, such as the loss of the use of a limb. These injuries also come with high medical costs.

SOMETIMES MINOR INJURIES ARE REALLY SERIOUS

Now that we’ve explained how to determine if an injury is serious, we’re going to throw in a couple caveats.

First, sometimes the severity of an injury isn’t known until much later. A good example of this may be a brain injury after a motor vehicle accident. It could be weeks or even months before it’s clear if the injury is temporary or permanent.

Second, what might be a minor injury for one person, could be a serious injury for another. For instance, suppose an otherwise healthy young man slips and falls on a hazardous sidewalk. He has a few bruises and scrapes, but is able to walk away from the incident. Now imagine an 80-year old man encounters the same stretch of sidewalk. When he falls, he breaks his hip – an injury that requires surgery and rehabilitation in a nursing care facility. In his case, the damages are substantial, making the injury serious.

One of our personal injury attorneys can help you determine what steps to take if you’re not quite sure how serious your injury may be.

CONSIDER YOUR OPTIONS FOR COMPENSATION

Suppose your injury isn’t serious enough to pursue a personal injury claim, but it still put you out money. What then?

In this situation, you may have other options to explore.

  • Try to Work it Out with the Negligent Party. If you’re able to, see if you can come up with a solution with the negligent party. Some businesses may be willing to reimburse your expenses out of pocket, as opposed to taking it to court.
  • File a Claim against your Insurance Company. Sometimes, you can receive compensation from your own insurance company – even if someone else is at fault. A good example of this is if a driver hits you who does not have car insurance. If you have Personal Injury Protection coverage (“PIP”), you can file a claim against your own insurance company.
  • Small Claims Court. In the State of Washington, small claims court gives you the chance to sue an individual or business if the damages are less than $5,000. Attorneys can’t assist in the process, and there are only modest fees to start the process. You can learn more at the Small Claims Washington website.

If we feel that a personal injury lawsuit isn’t appropriate in your case, we may suggest these (or other) options that could be available to you.

WHEN IN DOUBT, GIVE US A CALL

This post has provided a lot of generalities, but the only way to know if you have a case is to call us. We’ll want to hear how you were injured and the impact it’s had on your life. There are many variables when it comes to personal injury lawsuits.

Your initial consultation is always free here at Ladenburg Law. If you live in Tacoma, Olympia, Lakewood, Puyallup or the surrounding areas, give us a call at 253.272.5226. There is no obligation, and you only pay us if we win your case.

Disclaimer: Nothing in the post above is intended to be legal advice for your specific situation. We have spoken in general terms only today. This post is meant to give you a basic understanding of the kinds of things we consider in our line of work. Always consult with a personal injury attorney about your case for the legal options that will apply to you!

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