The TJ Smith Guide to Personal Injury Law

Recovering damages for a personal injury following an accident can be a complicated and frustrating experience. Many insurance company adjusters are quick to look for reasons to deny or attempt avoiding payment of a claim when they think they can find a technicality to support their position. Insurance companies are not obligated to a claimant beyond paying damages for what can be proven in court. In addition, insurance company claims adjusters are professionally trained negotiators who recognize when a claimant can be persuaded to settle a claim in short order with a full future medical liability release, effectively ending the claim for less than its full value. These reasons alone are enough to establish that any individual who is injured due to the negligence of another person should have experienced personal injury legal representation.

Proving Negligence

All valid personal injury cases are based on negligence of the respondent party, and sometimes multiple parties. It is the responsibility of the plaintiff legal counsel to prove that their client was injured due to the negligence of the defendant based on specific documentation. That documentation can include official police reports and medical records for injury treatment immediately following the accident. This also applies to both auto accidents and premises liability claims. It is always very important for the injured party to seek medical attention as soon as possible, even when first responders do not issue medical treatment. Internal injuries can manifest well after the fact, and often they are more dangerous than obvious injuries. Documentation from all official and commercial actions can be vital to proving a personal injury claim.

Potential Damages

Typical personal injury claims will include compensatory damage recovery for pecuniary expenses like medical bills and lost wages, along with associated expenses for traveling to second opinion doctors or specialists. Recovery for non-economic pain-and-suffering is also considered as compensatory, but often this is where the negotiations are the most intense. Having your own personal injury attorney means you also have a professional negotiator representing your case who will fight for all of your financial compensation rights, including punitive damages when they apply. Punitive damages can only be imposed by a jury when the injured claimant's attorney can prove that gross negligence applies in the case. This is especially important in wrongful death cases involving commercial vehicles when the transportation company is liable as well as the driver. Punitive damages are a common component of very serious accidents, and it always takes an experienced personal injury attorney who understands how to craft a case for presentation to the jury.

Comparative Negligence

Comparative negligence is the legal application that says not all accidents producing injuries are obvious with respect to causation. This can be important even in a state that applies "no fault" status to typical auto accident claims. In cases with serious injuries, the fault percentages can matter when an injury claim qualifies for a negligence claim beyond standard no-fault insurance coverage. And, in premises liability personal injury cases such as a slip-and-fall, assumption of personal risk is often used as a defense as well. Injured claimants without aggressive and experienced representation are no negotiating match against insurance company adjusters focused on limiting a total settlement payout. Having solid legal counsel can ensure an equitable settlement.

Never handle a personal injury claim without some form of legal counsel from an attorney who knows how to read the actions of a respondent insurance company. Company agents are trained in knowing when they can settle a case with a client who will not retain a lawyer. And, your personal injury claim may be much more valuable than you realize. Always get a lawyer and get a good one!

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T.J. Smith, Attorney at Law
600 W Main Street Suite 100
Louisville, KY 40202

Phone: 502-792-7937
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