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What Is Personal Injury Law?

What Is Personal Injury Law?

Personal injury law, commonly referred to as tort law, provides legal rights to victims who have been physically or psychologically injured as a result of the carelessness or wrongdoing of another person, company, government, or other entity. Personal injury laws apply to a variety of cases, including:

* Cases where a person acts out of negligence and therefore causes harm to another person. Examples of these types of cases include medical malpractice, slip, and fall accidents, automobile accidents, and some toxic tort cases, among many others;

* Cases where a person knowingly and intentionally causes harm onto another person. These types of cases include murder, assault, and battery;

* Cases where a person may have not intentionally performed a wrongdoing through negligence on his part can still be found liable for a personal injury claim. Dog bite cases (under some state laws) and certain types of product liability claims are examples of this type of personal injury law; and,

* Cases that involve insult of characters, such as libel or slander.


The primary goal of personal injury law is to provide legal rights for injured victims to be compensated financially after suffering from a loss or injury that they would otherwise not have endured if it was not for the negligence or omissions of the defendant. Personal injury laws impose a legal duty on people and companies to perform and interact with one another on a minimum level of care and attention. These laws are expected to encourage and promote good behavior and reduce bad behavior; therefore, personal injury laws serve a significant purpose for the general public.


Although no personal injury case is exactly the same as another because no accidents are exactly the same, these types of cases generally tend to follow these steps:

Plaintiff is Injured by a Defendant

With the exception of contractual breaches, this can be almost any unscrupulous act on the defendant’s part.

The defendant is Determined to have Breached a Legal Duty to Plaintiff

The breached duty is depended on the specifics of the particular case. For example, manufacturers and/or distributors have a legal duty to not allow dangerous or harmful drugs to enter the market.

Settlement Negotiations

If there is obvious evidence to all parties involved that the Defendant breached his contractual duty, then the defendant may opt to settle the matter outside of court by offering monetary compensation to the plaintiff in order to prevent the plaintiff from filing a lawsuit against the defendant.

If the plaintiff does not agree to the defendant’s offer, he may pursue in litigation. A settlement can be offered and negotiated after a suit is filed at any time until a verdict is announced by a jury or court.

Plaintiff Files a Lawsuit Against the Defendant

When the plaintiff initially files a case, he must be prepared to state what the legal basis of the claim is and what type of remedy he wishes to seek compensation for his injuries.

The Defendant Files an Answer to the Plaintiff’s Claim

The defendant must answer after being served by some type of official (usually a sheriff or a process server) within a certain period of time. If the defendant fails to provide an answer in the time given, a default judgment will be filed and the plaintiff automatically wins.

After an Answer is Filed by the Defendant, the Pre-Trial Period Begins

This period is intended for building each party’s case by collecting evidence to support both sides of the case. Discovery may be filed among the parties, expert witnesses may be hired, and depositions may be necessary during this time.

The Trial

The plaintiff is required to prove that a duty was owed, that that duty was breached by the defendant, that the breach by the defendant directly led to harm or injury to the plaintiff, and that the plaintiff suffered injuries as a result.

The Verdict

The jury or the judge (bench trials) has the responsibility to determine the Plaintiff’s awards in damages based on factors such as out-of-pocket medical expenses and the severity of physical, emotional, or psychological pain suffered by the Plaintiff as a result of his injuries.


When an attempt to file a case for personal injury is made without legal representation, the plaintiff should take into consideration that the defendant he is making the claim against will have experienced attorneys working and fighting on their behalf. The Insurance Research Council conducted a study in 1999 that indicated the average person will receive a settlement three and a half times larger when represented by a personal injury attorney than when presented without representation. The litigation process is often too complicated to handle alone. If a person seeking to file a claim is not knowledgeable of the law or if the case takes an unexpected turn and gets out of hand, he may consider hiring a personal injury lawyer that can evaluate every aspect of his claim and fight for all justifiable financial compensation owed to the victim.

Source by Jason M Byrd


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