Who has Legal Standing to File a Personal Injury Claim or Lawsuit
The only people who can successfully sue another person or business entity for their injuries are those who were owed a legal duty that was then violated by the defendant. Technically, we all owe each other a legal duty to exercise a practical amount of care and good judgment in order to not harm others. Take, for example, an instance of our friend Susan when driving her car. She is expected to operate her vehicle in a manner that best protects her and everyone else by not causing an accident. But if she drives recklessly, even if it’s just a few seconds, or chooses to drive home from a bar after having too much to drink, causes a wreck and harms another person, she has violated her clear legal responsibility (or duty) to not make others miserable by harming them.
If she has harmed you, just like the burden of proof, it is up to you, the victim, to gather enough relevant evidence to show that Susan owed that legal duty to you, and then violated it in order for your personal injury case to have the best possible outcome: you being awarded legal damages. Depending on the circumstances of the accident, the person or entity who caused it owes you a different legal duty than another person or entity might. An example of this difference is best illustrated by imagining the standard of care owed to you by your neighbor, and that of a doctor. Although your neighbor is your friend and you may very well trust him with the keys to your house or to care for your children, a doctor holds your very life in his or her hands. So, according to Texas law, the standard of care – which is their legal duty – is much higher for that physician than it would for your good friend and neighbor.
The degree of legal duty can also be different depending on the circumstances. Let’s say that the same doctor walks up to you in the grocery store and unexplainably slices your arm with a pocket knife. In this instance, he has likely violated a lower legal duty – the normal duty we as people owe another – than he would have if you were on the operating table, and he inadvertently performed malpractice by botching a surgical procedure. The legal duty is about circumstances and the context of the role the defendant plays at the time of your injury.
Most personal injuries arise from a clear violation of someone’s legal duty, although some are more obscure. Imagine, for example, if one company’s employee drops a hammer on the head of another. The legal duty of the employer to the injured employee has been violated because the work site was not safe since that employer allowed that employee on the job site to cause the injury that he caused. But on the other hand, if the same exact situation occurred to a contract laborer or subcontractor of that employer, the company that hired them might not owe anything to the victim because there is no legal duty owed to individuals hired as contractors. Often this issue can be called “splitting legal hairs,” due to the role of the defendant relative to the circumstances of the accident and the context of that defendant’s legal duty.
As a rule, the most proper and efficient way to decide if your case is a valid cause of action against the perpetrator or not is to speak with a personal injury lawyer with our Law Firm. We can clearly explain them to you and help you determine if a specific injury event warrants your filing a personal injury lawsuit, and against whom.
Put our years of experience to work for you. If you want to know what your rights are, how to proceed with your claim and how much compensation you can secure from your personal injury case, regardless of how it happened or who is liable, we can answer all of your questions. Call a personal injury specialist with our Law Firm now at 1(800) 862-1260 (toll-free) for a free consultation and find out how we can help you.