A tractor-trailer driver grows sleepy at the wheel. His truck veers into oncoming traffic, slamming into a car. The car’s driver, who is wearing a seat belt and traveling within the speed limit, is seriously injured.
The defendant trucking company doesn’t dispute that its driver caused the accident. It doesn’t argue that the driver of the car shared any responsibility in the accident.
So, where are the battle lines in a case like this?
Determining negligence, and whether the injured person (the “plaintiff”) was also negligent in any way, is common in a personal injury case. But the toughest battle a plaintiff’s attorney faces can be over injuries.
The defendants and their insurance companies are going to argue that the injuries aren’t as bad as the plaintiff’s lawyer says they are. That’s because determining the extent of the injuries is critical to the size of the award the defendant will have to pay out.
What kind of care does the injured person need and for how long? What’s the effect on earning potential? Quality of life? The answers to those questions and more help determine the size of the damages award.
To help answer the questions, both sides might use medical specialists. A defendant’s specialist might argue that a spinal cord injury, for example, is not as debilitating as the plaintiff’s specialist says it is. The less debilitating, the smaller the award.
Getting the most favorable answers for the injured person comes down, in large part, to the preparation and negotiating skills of his or her lawyer. Whether a damages award is determined through informal early settlement, mediation, arbitration, or a trial, the plaintiff’s attorney is pivotal.
Anyone who is considering taking legal action after an accident or injury should speak with an experienced personal injury attorney. Not only is the work of a plaintiff’s lawyer central to a determination of negligence, he or she is vital in determining the extent of injuries and the size of any monetary award.