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The Four Requirements for a Personal Injury Claim

Posted in Blog on August 18, 2016

In Any Personal Injury Claim, Four “Elements” or Requirements Under the Law Must Be Satisfied

  • 1. The person who caused the injuries must have a duty to the victim of
    the injuries.
  • 2. The at-fault party must have breached his or her duty when causing
    the injuries.
  • 3. Injuries or damages must have resulted from the at-fault’s actions in
    breaching those duties.
  • 4. Fourth, the at-fault’s actions must have caused the injuries or
    damages.

Example
Let’s take a typical motor vehicle crash such as a rear-end collision as an example. All drivers on the road have a duty other drivers, pedestrians, and cyclists to drive carefully and safely. In Colorado, a driver who rear-ends another driver is presumed to be negligent – in other words, rear-ending another vehicle is a presumed breach of the duty to drive safely. In order to have a personal injury claim, injuries such as whiplash or broken bones must have resulted from the crash. Finally, the injuries which resulted must have been caused by the collision alone. If all these requirements are met, an injury claim legitimately exists.

Why the Law Requires Insurance

The reason why insurance is mandatory for all drivers and vehicles is because car collisions happen frequently and people both cannot and do not want to be personally liable for injuries or property damage that results from a crash.

Imagine that a driver causes $12,000.00 in damage to your car, while you also need $5,000.00 in medical treatment because of your injuries. If the driver were personally liable, he would have to pay out $17,000. Most people do not have this kind of cash sitting around should this occur.

Thus, the government has mandated that all drivers pay premiums to an insurance company who will “cover” this driver for any injuries or property loss that their insured may have caused.

In Colorado, the minimum liability coverage is $25,000.00 per person and $50,000.00 per accident. The “per accident” amount comes into play when, for example, there are multiple people in one car who are injured or multiple vehicles involved in a crash.

When you hire a personal injury attorney, most of the communications from your lawyer will be with the insurance company, not the at-fault driver. Insurance companies have large claims departments who will work with your lawyer to discuss the injuries that occurred, what sort of medical treatment was received, if there are any lost wages, and the intangible ways the crash affected your life. The folks who initially handle claims for an insurance company are called “adjusters.” While insurance companies do, of course, also have many lawyers working for them,
generally lawyers only become involved once a lawsuit is filed.

On paper, insurance companies are supposed to pay for any and all damages and losses caused by their own insured.

In reality, however, insurance companies are businesses with bottom lines, profit margins, shareholders, and executives. Therefore, insurance companies are constantly finding ways to deny claims entirely or severely undervalue how much a claim is worth. In doing so, the insurance company is hoping that people will drop their claims or take much less than they deserve, putting more money into the insurance company’s coffers.

This is precisely why hiring an experienced and dedicated personal injury attorney is so important after you have been injured.

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