Personal injury law is also referred to as tort law. This area of law allows persons who have been injured in an accident due to the negligence of another party, to go to civil court in order to reclaim damages (or a legal remedy) for all losses that are a direct result of the incident. The sole purpose of personal injury law is to make the victim (plaintiff or person injured in the accident) “whole” again, by way of financial compensation after an accident has resulted in their injury at the fault of another party’s intentional conduct or carelessness. Read on and we will cover the basics and what you need to know about personal injury law.
What is Personal Injury Law?
Personal injury law, in contrast with criminal law, has no involvement by the government by way of prosecuting the wrongdoer. Instead, personal injury law cases involve a private party – the plaintiff – seeking compensation or damages (most often of momentary value) for the pain and suffering that they were forced to endure as a result of the actions of another party – the defendant.
The Basics Surrounding Personal Injury Law
In personal injury law, in order to establish liability, the plaintiff must prove – by way of evidence – that any other reasonable person in the defendant’s position would have acted in a different manner under the circumstances, which would not have resulted in the injury of another party. Personal injury law cases – many of them – are based on the doctrine of negligence. Which, in essence, requires that each member of society act “responsibly” in a way that does not endanger or put other members of society at risk. Examples of personal injury law cases that might involve negligence are those that involve a drunk driver that caused an accident, an animal bite by an animal other than your own, and medical complications resulting from a physician’s carelessness. In each of these scenarios, injury to the victimized party came as the result of the responsible party’s ignoring the associated risks of their actions.
Though many personal injury law cases are based on the doctrine of negligence, not all are. There are a number of causes of actions that encompass personal injury law, all of which fall under the umbrella of intentional torts. Intentional torts as they relate to personal injury law, are those cases that involve the defendant purposefully causing harm to the plaintiff. Examples include battery, assault, false imprisonment, theft, trespassing, and/or infliction of emotional distress.
Additionally, there are a couple of other situations where the defendant might be found liable for injuries caused to the plaintiff without any intentional or negligent wrongdoings. Examples of these types of cases where personal injury law would come into play include product liability claims where the injury to the plaintiff was the result of a defective product. Also, personal injury law would apply in scenarios where the defendant’s defamatory statement resulted in permanent harm caused to the plaintiff’s reputation.
How Personal Injury Law Cases Work
No two personal injury law cases are the same and therefore no two personal injury law cases will follow the same path to restitution. However, there are some basic steps –from a larger point of view – that one can expect each personal injury case will undergo.
The first step involves the defendant’s actions resulting in injury to the plaintiff. This can be any act that results in the harm of the other party (basics mentioned above), except for if the harm was caused as a result of a contractual breach, which is handled under a different area of the law referred to as contract law.
Next, the plaintiff will determine that their injuries were sustained as a direct result of the defendant breaching legal duties. The type of and specifics regarding the legal duty that was breached will be contingent on many factors and therefore determined on a case by case basis. An example of breaching legal duty might involve a personal injury law case where the driver (the defendant) did not operate their vehicle with the level of care that a reasonable person would use while operating such a piece of machinery on the road and in doing such caused harm to another individual (the plaintiff).
Once the plaintiff, together with their personal injury attorney, has pinpointed fault on the defendant and by way of evidence can prove such liability, they will move forward with actions in pursuit of reparations. This generally involves holding a settlement meeting with the defendant and his/her insurance company to discuss settling the matter outside of the courtroom. A settlement involves the defendant and their insurance company offering monetary compensation to the plaintiff as damages paid for the harm caused. Settlements will include a contractual agreement where the plaintiff must agree to not file a lawsuit over the accident and injury.
If the injured party – the plaintiff – agrees to the terms of the settlement, then the case ends there. If not, the plaintiff, with guidance and help of their personal injury, the attorney will continue with the claims filing process. The case will then go to trial.