In Illinois and the rest of the country, most personal injury claims settle out of court. But the threat of a lawsuit is one of the most potent tools in the average plaintiff’s arsenal. The willingness to go to court can give an injured party a lot of leverage against defendants and their insurance providers, who often do not like the uncertainty of jury verdicts and prefer to settle in most cases.
Elements of proving personal injury damages
Of course, that does not mean winning a personal injury trial is quick and simple. As the plaintiff, you must convince the judge or jury that:
- The defendant owed you a duty of care
- The defendant breached that duty
- As a result, you were injured
- The breach of duty started a chain of events that led to your injuries
The good news is, in civil litigation the standard of proof is lower than in criminal law, where the prosecution must prove the defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. For a personal injury suit, the level of proof is called “preponderance of the evidence,” which essentially means more likely than not. In other words, if you and your attorney can show the judge or jury that the defendant most likely caused your injuries, you will prevail.
Also, you generally do not need to prove that the defendant injured you on purpose. Negligence simply means a failure to live up to a duty owed to the plaintiff. For example, a drunk driver who hurt someone in a car accident probably did not mean to do so. But drinking and driving is a negligent act because it disregards the safety of other people on the road.
Find out what you might be owed
Whether you reach a reasonable settlement in your case or go to trial, you deserve compensation for your medical bills, lost wages and other damages. If you have questions about what compensation you are entitled to, a conversation with a personal injury lawyer can be helpful.