Suing a Business for Personal Injury

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For every company, big or small, that welcomes customers or visitors onto its premises, personal injury lawsuits are a cost of doing business. When a business is responsible for causing a personal injury, the injured person often needs to sue the entity, either on its own or in addition to individuals who may bear liability. Personal injury cases or claims are typically related to accidents that have led to the injury of an individual, either physically or mentally. Insurance settlements usually resolve problems in the majority of personal injury claims, but sometimes that may not be enough with some businesses.

Every customer has a right to relative safety when entering a business. The business has an obligation to provide a reasonably safe environment for the customer to do business. When the business fails to meet that obligation, and the customer becomes injured, the customer may be able to sue the business for the resulting injuries.

In order to simplify matters, we’ll provide you with a brief overview of what you need to know in case you have decided to sue a business.

When Is a Business Responsible for Injury?

Most personal injury lawsuits are filed on the grounds of negligence. In such cases, the plaintiff must prove that the business was required to act with a duty of care, that the duty was breached, that the breach led to the injury and that damages ensued.

Whenever someone enters the premises, the business has a reasonable duty of care to provide a safe, comfortable environment. However, the exact level of the duty of care often depends on the type of visitor.

In most jurisdictions, customers are assumed to be owed the highest duty of care since they are invited guests to the company’s premises. This duty includes inspecting the premises to ensure that they are safe and warning customers of possible dangers.

A licensee is considered someone who is allowed to enter another person’s property for a limited purpose. Businesses must warn licensees of possible dangers on their premises. A trespasser is a person who has no reason or permission to enter a facility and is thus not owed any duty of care.

Proving Duty of Care

A business inherently asks individuals to come into the business in order for the business to profit. As such, they owe a duty of care to all individuals who come onto their property. This duty of care is often expressed as acting in a reasonably prudent manner. However, the level of reasonableness may be based on the type of visitor.

But keeping those caveats in mind, below are some examples of things that the reasonableness standard might require of businesses:

  • Create and follow a procedure to regularly inspect the premises for defects that could cause harm to customers.
  • Regularly clean the premises to prevent slips and falls.
  • Warn customers of wet floors by placing warning signs near the location of the danger.
  • Provide a mat or rug near entryways while it is raining outside to avoid the accumulation of water on store floors.
  • Immediately repair cracked or crumbling pavement near the entryway.

This list is by no means exhaustive, but it provides some examples of what safety standards may be required of businesses.

In many situations, expert testimony may be necessary to determine the proper standard in a particular case. In such a situation, an expert with knowledge of safety standards in the industry in question will testify as to the safety standards expected in particular contexts.


Proving Breach of Duty

When a business fails to fulfill its duty of care, the business is said to have “breached” the duty. Once the standard of care is established, the plaintiff has the responsibility of proving that the business breached this duty. For example, the business may have failed to clean the premises on a regular basis, leaving liquid on the floor that a customer later slipped on. An employee may have noticed the spill and neglected to clean it up.

In order to win, the injured person (the “plaintiff”) typically must show four things:

  • The existence of a duty of care
  • Breach of that duty
  • Damages
  • Causation


Proving Harm Caused by the Breach

In order to win a personal injury lawsuit, the plaintiff must also prove that the breach caused harm. This harm can take many forms, including:

  • Pain and suffering
  • Cost of medical bills
  • Loss of earning capacity
  • Loss of the ability to enjoy life’s pleasures in the same way as prior to the injury

The critical issue is whether the breach actually caused the harm. It is insufficient to show that a customer suffered harm after a fall, and attempt to leave it at that.


Which Types of Injuries Are Covered?

Personal injury law covers a wide range of injuries, including physical and emotional injuries. Some common examples of physical injuries that are covered by personal injury law include:

  • Slip and fall accidents
  • Car accidents
  • Dog bites
  • Medical malpractice
  • Product liability

In terms of emotional injuries, they can be a bit more challenging to quantify. Some common examples of emotional injuries that are covered by personal injury law include:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • PTSD
  • Loss of consortium


Finding the Right Attorney

The attorney you choose to help you pursue a personal injury lawsuit can make or break the case. You’ll want to make sure that your lawyer has several years of experience handling personal injury lawsuits, not to mention a fair number of wins under their belt. They should also be locally-based because personal injury laws vary by state.

Your main opponent in accident injury cases will be the insurance company and they can be very shrewd in collecting statements that can deny your case altogether. Your attorney will handle all negotiations and conversations with the insurance company to make sure that you don’t lose any legal ammunition in court. Professional legal representation will sequentially help you prove the business’s responsibility, negligence, and the harm they caused.


Statute of Limitations and Deadlines

The statute of limitations is a state rule that establishes a fixed deadline for filing a personal injury lawsuit. Each state and federal government has its deadlines for different types of cases. A personal injury lawyer in Southern California can help you get through the process of filing your case. Do you know how much time California state law gives you to act if you intend to file a personal injury case? You may lose your right to compensation if you wait too long. It is important to understand the personal injury statutes of limitations before filing.


Proof and Evidence

A lawsuit should never be built upon claims that are not backed up by facts and evidence. Since the court will be taking into consideration both the victim’s claim and the defendant’s defense, you’ll want to build a strong case. When you are injured, you need to take pictures of the wounds and the accident’s area. This will help provide photographic evidence for your case and also make it clear how you were injured. You must also receive medical treatment from your doctor, who can identify additional injuries you may not have realized were there. You should document all of the expenses you had to pay because of this accident. Keep all of your medical bills together. You will need to include non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering. Also, you should calculate your income loss and the amount you expect to lose in the future due to your injury.



Should You Speak with an Attorney?

If you have suffered a substantial injury as the result of another party’s negligence, the laws of the state of Illinois allow you to seek damages to recover from your injuries. And you should.

Often, people underestimate the impact an injury will have on their lives. Or perhaps they just don’t think it will be worth the trouble of making a claim.

Our legal team at Duque Law Group is comprised of award-winning and nationally recognized trial lawyers who collaborate with nurses, doctors and medical experts regularly. Though we understand the nature of injuries, we are not physicians, and always encourage victims to seek treatment as soon after an accident as possible, and to follow up and heed their doctors’ advice.

Call us now at 1-877-241-9554 to learn more about your options. A free consultation is just a phone call away.


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