Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Basis of A Successful Negligence Claim

I had the opportunity recently to speak with a woman who was like many of you, a person who had been injured and did not know how things worked from there. She had been damaged and could explain those damages pretty well. She had been injured, she was in pain, and she had been forced to adjust her conduct in her home, work and social situations. She had medical bills, co-pays, uninsured items and concern about her future.

As we discussed her situation, I brought her back to the accident itself and asked her to explain it to me again. When she finished I asked her what she thought the target of her claim had done wrong. Her answer was that she did not know if he had done anything wrong. I explained that it is understandable that the injured person does not know if the target of their claim did anything wrong. This firm and others like us often have to enlist the assistance of experts in many different fields to aid us in determining if someone's conduct was wrongful in some manner. But, in this instance there did not appear much hope of finding anything having been done negligently by the target. I then discussed with her the possibility that the tool that the target was using at the time of the injury might have been defective. Again, we often retain experts to assist us in determining that. But, here again it did not seem likely to me that the tool was defective and I told her that.

The potential client's reaction was that the target's insurance carrier should still pay her because of all of her damages. This is where she separated herself from many of you who already understand that our judicial system is not designed that way; it is not simply having suffered damages that create a cause of action. For a person to be liable for your damages due to their negligence they have to have done something wrong and that wrongful action must be found to have caused your injury. The elements of a wrongful act (or omission) and causation are central to any successful negligence claim.

If you have been injured and you want to discuss a claim with a lawyer, you should be prepared to discuss both of these elements with him or her. Your lawyer will need to understand the facts sufficiently to make a determination not only regarding your injuries and damages but also the facts relevant to the allegedly wrongful act (or omission) and causation.

Timothy G. Kerrigan is the director of Kerrigan Law PLLC. His present practice focuses on civil legal matters including insurance, , personal injury, family law, commercial transactional issues, litigation, mediation and arbitration  Mr. Kerrigan is also certified by the State Office of Mediation and Arbitration both as a mediator and as an arbitrator. You can contact Attorney Kerrigan at 603-943-5555