There are a variety of ways to shoot yourself in the foot (literally and figuratively) and lose a personal injury lawsuit.
From contributing to the accident to failing to take important legal steps, there are certain factors that can destroy your personal injury claim in court.
Here are five common ways to lose a personal injury lawsuit:
- No experts. Parties must often rely on expert witness testimony to prove negligence. For example, a father in New Jersey who sued a mall after his daughter was injured by an escalator ended up losing the case, partly because of his failure to provide an expert opinion to explain the exact cause of the accident, according to The Star-Ledger.
- Assumption of risk/contributory negligence. If you were negligent and contributed to your own injuries, or you assumed the risk of an obviously dangerous activity (and went ahead and engaged in the activity anyway), then your lawsuit may not be a winner. These are common defenses to negligence and can destroy a plaintiff's case.
- No proof. Winning a personal injury lawsuit becomes exponentially more challenging when there is a dearth of evidence to make your case. After suffering an injury, it's crucial to gather proof: Take pictures, write down descriptions, file a police report, seek medical treatment, and get witnesses' contact information.
- Lack of credibility. Your character can be an important element of the case. Any information you provide related to your personal injury should be honest and accurate. One easy way to destroy your credibility (and in turn, your case) is misrepresenting your injuries to your doctor. Remember, any discrepancy with the police report or other critical evidentiary record can harm your case. Don't lie to insurance companies, either. Instead, keep mum and let your attorney do the talking.
- No lawyer. While it may not be entirely necessary, consulting with an experienced personal injury attorney may be the easiest way to handle your personal injury matter. A lawyer may be able to identify legal issues you hadn't considered, and can give you useful guidance that is tailor-made to your unique situation.
For more information on what steps you can take to give yourself the best chance in court, check out FindLaw's section on Accidents and Injuries.
- Personal Injury Law: The Basics (FindLaw)
- How Much Is Your Personal Injury Case Worth? (FindLaw's Injured)
- 5 Reasons an Injury Lawyer Won't Take Your Case (FindLaw's Injured)
- Ask a Question About Injuries, Accidents, and Torts in Our Community Forum (FindLaw Answers)