When one party is injured as the result of the negligence or fault of another party, a personal injury lawsuit may arise.
Under certain circumstances, such as medical negligence or a wrongful death, an individual may file a personal injury lawsuit on behalf of a loved one.
Also referred to a “tort law”, specific guidelines apply to personal injury lawsuits that may vary depending upon the state in which the suit is brought and other circumstances.
Generally speaking, though, personal injury lawsuits follow roughly the same patterns throughout the country.
Personal injury lawsuits are intended to provide compensation to the injured party and to discourage the continuation or repetition of the behavior that caused the injury in question.
Two elements are needed in establishing a successful personal injury lawsuit: liability and damages. In order to prove liability, the party that is filing the personal injury lawsuit must demonstrate that the person or entity changed did bear legal responsibility for the injury. The damages in a personal injury lawsuit refer to the extent or the amount of injury or loss suffered on account of the defendant’s actions or negligence.
Liability and damages in a personal injury lawsuit can be established on several bases: negligence, strict liability and intentional wrong.
Of these, intentional wrong is the least often used in personal injury lawsuits, and may be brought in conjunction with criminal charges.
Negligence means that the defendant is accused of causing the injury through a failure to prevent it. Personal injury lawsuits based on negligence include slip and fall injuries or reckless/inattentive drivers who cause car accidents.
If a personal injury lawsuit is based upon strict liability, the company whose defective product was responsible for the injury may also face charges. Strict liability applies regardless of malice or negligence, as long as the product was being used as intended.
The vast majority of personal injury lawsuits are settled outside of court, and generally prior to the beginning of courtroom proceedings.
Personal injury lawsuits that do go to trial may either be heard by a judge or a jury, who will make a legal decision regarding the fault and extent of damages.
In some personal injury lawsuits, the judge will determine the amount of money awarded to the plaintiff, in others, the jury is permitted to make that decision. A personal injury lawsuit may result in an award to the plaintiff that numbers well into the millions of dollars.
Most people who are qualified to file personal injury lawsuits do not have sufficient knowledge of personal injury law to recover the full amount to which they are entitled. Because of the complex nature of personal injury lawsuits and the potentially large sums of money at stake, it is critical to contact an attorney who has experience in personal injury lawsuits as soon as possible.