How Do I Know if I Have a Personal Injury Case? | Staver
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How Do I Know if I Have a Personal Injury Case?

Written by Jared Staver

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Jared Staver is a Personal Injury Lawyer based in Chicago, Illinois and has been practicing law for over 20 years.

Jared Staver

CATEGORY: Auto Accidents

A personal injury case involves more than being injured. You must show that another party failed to prevent you from harm through a reckless act, failure to act, or intentional act. You also need to prove that you have damages from these injuries, in the form of medical bills, lost pay, or mental anguish.

Here’s an example. You broke your arm in a grocery store because you were horsing around on rolling shopping carts. In this case, you probably don’t have grounds for a personal injury case. However, suppose you broke your arm falling on a slippery floor because an employee didn’t mop a spill. In that case, you probably do have a personal injury case.

If you still have questions, a Chicago personal injury lawyer can help you understand what you need to prove to pursue compensation for an injury or accident that you did not cause.

What You Need to Know About Personal Injury Cases

When you file a personal injury lawsuit, you have to explain why the other person owes you compensation. These reasons are called theories of liability. The most common theory in personal injury claims is negligence.

Negligence has four elements, and you have to prove each one to win compensation:

  1. Duty of care
  2. Breach of duty
  3. Direct and proximate cause
  4. Injury

Duty of Care

You start by proving the other person owed you a duty of care, which means the law required them to behave a certain way. The other party’s duty of care depends on your relationship with them and the situation.

For example, all drivers have to follow the ordinary duty of care. They’re supposed to behave reasonably under the circumstances and obey all traffic laws.

Breach of Duty

You then have to prove the other party breached this duty in some manner. For example, driving 55 miles per hour on a 35-mile per hour street is a breach of duty.


You have to show an insurer or court that the other party’s breach of duty caused your injuries. That means there’s a direct connection between their actions and the accident. But it’s a little more complicated. You also have to prove proximate cause, which means your injuries were a foreseeable consequence of the other party’s careless or reckless behavior.


To have a valid personal injury claim, you be hurt. You’ll need proof of your injuries, which is why we always recommend going to the emergency room or a doctor after an accident. Your medical records establish your injuries.

Other Theories of Liability

You might be able to file a lawsuit based on a different reason than negligence.

Breach of Warranty

Other theories of liability include breach of warranty. A breach of warranty occurs when the guarantor fails to provide the promised assurance. A seller can expressly or implicitly assure the buyer about the quality of a product.

When a product is defective or dangerous, breach of warranty is an effective way to show liability.

Strict Liability

Strict liability means a party is responsible for the harm it causes, whether or not they were careless. You don’t have to prove the other party did anything wrong to win compensation. You might also use this theory for product liability cases. A manufacturer could be responsible for your injuries if they made and sold a dangerous product.

Gross Negligence

Ordinary negligence is comparable to carelessness. Gross negligence means someone was not merely careless but showed a complete disregard for other people’s safety. Gross negligence is also malice, intentional harm, or fraud.

In addition to compensatory damages, you could be awarded punitive damages for an injury caused by gross negligence. Punitive damages punish the wrongdoer.

Call a Chicago Personal Injury Lawyer

You could be entitled to compensation for an accident or injury that was not your fault. Our car accident attorneys serve clients throughout the Chicago area, including Aurora, Elgin, Hinsdale, Joliet, Naperville, and Waukegan. Get your free consultation from Staver Accident Injury Lawyers, P.C. Call (312) 236-2900 or contact us online. If you have a valid case, we can help you recover damages for your medical bills, lost pay, and other expenses. Our attorneys work on a contingent fee basis, which means no win, no fee.

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(312) 236-2900
(312) 236-2900
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