Prospective clients frequently ask personal injury attorneys questions about who they should sue. Answers to this question can range from the very simple to the downright complex. Take a look at some of the more common targets that personal injury lawyers might bring claims against.
A Directly At-Fault Individual
If a person's actions directly led to you being hurt, you can probably pursue a claim against them. For example, someone who jokingly punched you might be held liable for a serious injury you suffered as a consequence.
Be aware that, except for auto accident claims, these cases often lead to lawsuits because the individual is usually self-insured. In such circumstances, presuming you successfully sue, the court will order a lien against the defendant's property if they can't pay the settlement.
Businesses and Landowners
Premises liability is a big chunk of personal liability. It's a concept that covers the responsibility of a property owner to make a location reasonably safe, especially for anyone who's invited there or might be reasonably expected to come there. When a slip and fall incident occurs at a grocery store, for example, that's a premises liability case. The same applies to residential property owners when someone is hurt in their house or along a poorly maintained sidewalk they're responsible for.
Thanks to the fact most property owners carry some form of insurance, it's common for these cases to go through the claims adjustment process. A claims adjuster is appointed by the insurer. They determine whether the case is valid, and they'll offer a settlement if it is.
You might have to sue under three different circumstances. First, the claim may be rejected or a settlement can't be reached. Second, the insurance company may refuse to consider the claim because they believe the incident isn't covered by the policy. Finally, the at-fault party might be self-insured and unwilling to settle a claim.
These cases can be a little trickier. For the most part, they're like cases where people seek claims against businesses. Many states, however, have rules that shorten the period covered by the statute of limitations. That means you may have to move ahead with a case within months rather than taking more time to get everything right.
Also, a government might invoke a form of sovereign immunity to claim they're not able to be sued. Generally, state and local governments aren't immune, but the federal government sometimes claims immunity. Significant time may go into litigating that question before you might be able to move ahead with your case.
To learn more, reach out to a personal injury lawyer.