What Is a Personal Injury Case?

A personal injury case addresses injuries that happen to a person due to someone else’s negligence. Personal injury cases can involve bodily injury and psychological harm and will assign a monetary value to the harm a plaintiff endured. 

Personal injury claims can arise from vehicle accidents, slips and falls, medical negligence, hazardous conditions on someone’s property, and other causes. No matter what the cause, it is important to work with an Oklahoma City personal injury lawyer with experience filing personal injury claims. Choosing the right attorney can make a complex process easier for you and more likely to produce positive results. 

Elements of a Personal Injury Claim in Oklahoma 

There are four essential elements a plaintiff must be able to prove in an Oklahoma personal injury case. If your case is missing any one of these elements, your claim could be dismissed. 

The elements of a negligence case are: 

  1. Duty. The at-fault party must have had some duty of care to the victim under the circumstances. In other words, they had a responsibility to act safely or take certain measures to avoid an accident. A driver, for example, has a duty to follow traffic rules and drive with caution for the safety of others. A doctor has a duty to treat a patient with the same care as a reasonable doctor in their position normally would. 
  2. Breach of duty. When a person fails to follow their duty of care in a situation, they’ve breached their duty, and this satisfies the second element of a personal injury claim. The plaintiff must show that the defendant did not act with the care and caution that another reasonable person in their position would have. A driver who runs a red light, for example, has breached their duty of care to drive safely and obey traffic signals. 
  3. Causation. To succeed in a personal injury lawsuit, a plaintiff has to prove a link between the defendant’s conduct and the harm suffered. There cannot be any intervening factors that might have caused the injury. For example, in a multi-vehicle crash, the at-fault party must have caused the collision with the victim. If their vehicle was pushed into the victim’s car by another driver, the causal link is broken, and this element can’t be proven. 
  4. Damages. The victim must have suffered physical, financial, or emotional damages due to the defendant’s conduct. The damages must be demonstrable and can’t be hypothetical or imagined. Monetary damages can include medical bills, lost wages, property damage, and other costs that can be itemized. Non-monetary damages can include pain and suffering or mental anguish. 

What Is the Burden of Proof in a Personal Injury Claim?

In a personal injury case, Oklahoma courts use a “preponderance of the evidence” standard. This means the plaintiff must prove it was more likely than not that the defendant was responsible. In other words, they will need to show there is a 51% chance or greater that the defendant acted negligently. An experienced personal injury lawyer will know how to present evidence in court to meet this important threshold. 

What Evidence Is Used in a Personal Injury Claim? 

Evidence in a personal injury claim can include but is not limited to any of the following: 

  • Physical evidence. Physical items retrieved from a crash scene, for example, can help support a plaintiff’s personal injury claim. 
  • Documents. Medical bills, property repair estimates, written reports, and cost itemizations are examples of documents that can be used as evidence in a personal injury claim. 
  • Camera footage. Video surveillance is more common and widespread than ever, and if your accident happened in a public place, it might have been caught on camera. Video footage and photos from an accident scene are useful pieces of evidence in a personal injury case. 
  • Witness testimony. Witnesses can include both parties to the case and eyewitnesses from an accident scene. These are known as “lay witnesses”. Another category of witnesses is expert witnesses. These are professionals in their field who can testify about their theories on how an accident happened or the impact an accident will have on the victim. 

What are Damages in a Personal Injury Case? 

Damages in a personal injury claim are typically divided into two categories: monetary damages and non-monetary damages. 

Monetary damages will include actual costs and expenditures. For example, medical expenses and therapy costs are simple to itemize and add up. Other monetary damages will include lost wages due to the accident or required treatment. Costs to repair damaged property, such as a wrecked vehicle, are also included in this category. 

Non-monetary damages include intangible costs such as pain and suffering. Mental anguish, loss of companionship, and other emotional issues fall within non-monetary damages as well. This type of damage can be more challenging to prove and will depend on witness statements and testimony. 

Will My Personal Injury Case Go to Court? 

Statistically, 95% of personal injury cases settle before going to trial. A skilled personal injury lawyer will prepare not only for trial but for pre-trial settlement negotiations to maximize your potential settlement. When a defendant has liability coverage through an insurance company, that insurer will play a large role in settlement discussions. 

A good personal injury lawyer knows the tactics that an insurance company will use to minimize your claim and will fight to get you what you deserve. If the case does proceed to trial, your lawyer will present evidence in court to prove the value of your personal injury claim. 

How a Lawyer Can Help You in Your Personal Injury Case 

It is difficult to get what you rightly deserve in a personal injury case if you handle it on your own. Settlement negotiations and court proceedings are complex matters that are best handled by a lawyer experienced with these issues. A personal injury lawyer will collect all available evidence to pursue your claim, file a lawsuit and related pleadings, and battle the insurance companies to get the most out of your claim. 

Schedule a Free Consultation with Our Oklahoma City Personal Injury Lawyers Today 

If you’ve been injured in an accident, you should not hesitate to pursue a personal injury claim and assert your legal rights. Our experienced Oklahoma City personal injury lawyers know what you are going through and know how to fight for you. Call the law office of Laird Hammons Laird Personal Injury Lawyers today at (405) 497-0480 or schedule a free consultation online.