How Do I Find Who to Name in a Personal Injury Lawsuit?
Summary: People who are injured because of the negligence of another person or entity sometimes struggle with who to name as defendants in a lawsuit. In some cases it may appear obvious who the negligent party was that caused an injury, so, consequently, it may seem obvious who to name in the suit.
However, it often isn’t as clear as it looks on the surface. An injury can have multiple contributing factors, so it’s always worth it for a person considering a lawsuit to consult an experienced personal injury attorney. The attorney will put his or her legal knowledge to work to ensure all the factors at play are investigated and all the proper at-fault parties discovered and named.
What is Negligence?
But first, what constitutes negligence in a personal injury case? In legal terms, people and entities have what is called a “duty of care,” which basically means that they have a duty not to cause injuries or harm to someone else. When that duty is believed to be breached, the injured party may bring a lawsuit that attempts to prove the negligence of the person or entity. A couple of examples of possible negligence include a driver who speeds or otherwise doesn’t obey traffic laws and causes an injury accident, or a business owner who knowingly allows dangerous tripping hazards on their property that cause a person to fall and fracture a hip.
Fault is Not Always Obvious
However, as stated earlier, discovering who the negligent party or parties are can be complicated and is often not as obvious as it may first seem.
Consider this hypothetical example: A person is crossing the street within a marked crosswalk, and an oncoming car doesn’t stop. Instead, it rolls through the stop sign and strikes the person, causing a serious injury. While it may seem obvious that the driver of the car was negligent and should be named as the primary defendant in the personal injury lawsuit, it may not be that simple. There is the possibility that the car’s brakes were not operating properly and the driver was unable to stop quickly. Maybe the vehicle’s brakes had recently been improperly serviced at an auto repair shop. That repair shop may have liability in the case. Or perhaps there was a site distance design issue involving the crosswalk itself, which made it difficult for the driver to see the upcoming crossing and person crossing in it. The government agency responsible for that roadway and crosswalk may be liable and named as defendants in the suit. Not every suit has just one defendant—there may be multiple parties or entities responsible, depending upon the facts in a particular case. That is where the expertise and research skills of an attorney can help.
Don’t Delay When Considering a Suit
If you have suffered an injury and are considering a lawsuit, it’s important to not delay in speaking with an attorney to discover whether you may have a viable case. By law, there is a statute of limitations on bringing personal injury cases, and the clock usually begins ticking when the injury happens or is discovered (sometimes injuries aren’t immediately obvious). Once the statute of limitations runs out, so does the opportunity to file a lawsuit.
Each state has its own statute of limitations; and within states the statute might even vary, based on the type of personal injury that occurred, whether the defendant is a governmental entity, or whether the plaintiff is a minor. In New York State, the statute of limitations on personal injury cases is generally three years.
Remember: In personal injury cases, deciding who to name in a lawsuit isn’t always as clear as it may first seem. And depending upon all the facts of an injury case, it can be quite complicated. Experienced personal injury attorneys know the law; they can identify who to name in case and then help plaintiffs get the appropriate damages for their injuries.
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