When you suffer an injury, you only have a certain amount of time in which to file a lawsuit to be compensated for your damages. The legal term for this time period is called the statute of limitations, and if you do not file a lawsuit within the allotted time, you lose your claim and are never allowed to sue the offending party for your damages. Another way to lose your claim is if your own negligence played a part in your injuries. This means that if the defendant can prove that you, the plaintiff, were negligent and that negligence contributed to your injury, you cannot recover any damages. For example, imagine you are driving 5 mph over the speed limit through an intersection and another person runs a stop sign and hits you. Should the court find that you were 1% at fault for speeding and the other person was 99% at fault for running a stop sign, you recover nothing under the theory of contributory negligence.
Due to the difficulties in proving both the amount of damages and the complete fault of the opposing party, it is imperative that you hire a knowledgeable attorney to prosecute your case.