Main Components of Your Accident Case: Liability, Coverage and Damages
When you get into an accident, you expect the party at fault to compensate you for your injuries. Although the ideal situation is for the liable party, or their insurance carrier, to simply tender a check for their policy limits, it is rarely a case. In most accident claims, the injured party will need to successfully prove their case to get the full compensation they deserve.
In order for you to properly evaluate your case, you need to focus on the three main components of any accident claim: liability, coverage and damages.
Liability in an Accident Claim
Fault, or legal liability, is a key component in a personal injury claim. Determining which party is at fault is important because once it is established, the at-fault party is responsible for paying compensation (called “damages”) to the injured party, whether via a negotiated settlement or jury verdict.
Most accident claims arise as a result of one or more parties acting negligently. Negligence generally needs to be proven in order to hold one party liable for personal injury damages. The legal elements that need to be proven in order to establish negligence include duty, breach, causation and damages.
Other methods of proving fault include:
- Establishing intentional conduct.
- Proving negligence per se.
- Showing the claim is subject to the “strict liability” standard of proof.
Insurance Policy Coverage
The outcome of your personal injury case could hinge on whether the liable party has sufficient insurance coverage. Insurance companies are only on the hook for the dollar limits of their policies. This means that if you suffer serious injuries and the value of your claim is significant, the at-fault party’s carrier has no obligation to pay you the large sums of damages you deserve if the insurance limits are low.
For example, assume you have suffered catastrophic injuries and a reasonable settlement value is $500,000. But the liable party who caused the accident only has $15,000 in insurance coverage. In this scenario, your “reasonable” settlement with the insurance carrier will be $15,000 because that sum represents the limit of the insurer’s liability. Although it may seem unfair, this result demonstrates how insurance policy limits can impact your personal injury settlement.
Types of Damages
In a personal injury case, you are fighting to achieve the compensation you deserve for your accident. The purpose of compensation is to financially help the plaintiff heal from the “damages” they suffered as a result of the accident. Though it is difficult to place a monetary value on all damages, your experienced personal injury attorney will help calculate a close estimate of what you are rightfully owed.
Many factors can be labeled under “damages”. Primarily, personal injury damages cover:
- Medical bills
- Loss of wages
- Emotional distress
- Pain and suffering
- Wrongful death
- Punitive damages
If you or a loved one have been injured in an accident caused by the negligence of another party, you should discuss your legal options with an attorney as you may be entitled to compensation. The attorneys at the Law Offices of Samer Habbas & Associates have achieved over $140 million for their clients so far. For more information or to schedule a FREE consultation with one of the attorneys, call 949-727-9300.