You can seek compensation from the at-fault party if you’re injured in a car accident, a slip and fall, or another type of personal injury accident. Most personal injury claims are resolved through settlement negotiations with the at-fault party’s insurance company.
In some cases, an injured victim must file a lawsuit to recover compensation from the insurance company. Understanding some basics about personal injury lawsuits is helpful if you’ve been injured in an accident. For example, who are the parties to a personal injury lawsuit?
Who Is the Defendant in a Personal Injury Lawsuit?
In a personal injury lawsuit, the injured party is the plaintiff. Through your attorney, you will initiate the case in court by filing a complaint. This will describe the accident, your injuries, and your assertions of how the at-fault party caused the accident.
The at-fault party will be the defendant in the lawsuit. They are the person facing the claims in your complaint.
What Are the Plaintiff’s and Defendant’s Roles in a Personal Injury Lawsuit?
The plaintiff and defendant have distinct roles in a personal injury lawsuit.
When you file a personal injury lawsuit, you, as the plaintiff, have the burden of proving your claims by a preponderance of the evidence. A preponderance means that something is more likely than not true, or there is a 50% or greater chance that your claim is true.
In a personal injury lawsuit, this means that you must prove that there is a 50% or greater chance that the defendant was negligent and their actions caused your injuries.
The defendant does not have the burden of proof in a personal injury lawsuit. However, they may challenge the plaintiff’s evidence or present their version of the case to weaken the plaintiff’s case. They may also present evidence of any defenses they think apply. For example, defendants may assert that the statute of limitations bars the lawsuit. Defendants may also claim they had a valid excuse for their actions or that the plaintiff was at fault.
How Do You Prove the Defendant Was Negligent?
To prove that the defendant was negligent, you must establish each of the following four elements:
- Duty of care. The defendant was required to adhere to a certain standard of care to avoid unreasonable harm to you and others. The most common standard of care is to act the way a reasonably prudent person would under the same or similar circumstances.
- Breach. The defendant breached or violated the required standard of care. This usually requires showing that the defendant acted unreasonably in the situation.
- Causation. The defendant was the actual and legal cause of the accident and your injuries.
- Damages. You suffered injuries or other harms for which you can be compensated.
Any one of these elements can be challenged by the defendant, but causation or breach are often the most contentious. An experienced personal injury lawyer will ensure you have evidence to support every element of your claim.
Who Can Be a Defendant in a Personal Injury Lawsuit?
In a personal injury lawsuit, any party involved in causing an injury may be named as a defendant. This may include a driver involved in an accident, the owner of a dog who bites someone, the owner of a property where someone slips and falls, or a company that produces a faulty product. An experienced St. Louis personal injury lawyer can investigate the accident thoroughly to identify all at-fault parties in your case.
What Damages Can You Recover from a Defendant?
A personal injury victim may be able to recover various damages to compensate them for their injuries and other losses. The damages can be divided into two main categories: economic and non-economic damages.
Economic damages relate to the financial costs caused by an accident or injury. These may include past and future medical expenses, property damages, lost wages, or diminished earning capacity.
Non-economic damages relate to the emotional or intangible consequences of the accident or injury. These may include pain and suffering, loss of consortium, diminished quality of life, or emotional anguish.
Reach out to an experienced St. Louis personal injury lawyer to discuss which damages are available in your case.
Contact An Experienced St. Louis Personal Injury Lawyer to Schedule Your Free Consultation
If you were injured in an accident in St. Louis, MO, you may be able to seek compensation against the at-fault party through a personal injury claim or lawsuit. Our dedicated St. Louis personal injury lawyers at Schultz & Myers Personal Injury Lawyers are here to help you navigate the complexities of personal injury cases and fight for full compensation.