Personal injury cases fall under the area of law known as tort law. A tort is legally defined as “a civil wrong or wrongful act, whether intentional or accidental, from which injury occurs to another.” While this includes any violation of a party’s legal interests, personal injury cases are usually made when a victim suffers bodily injuries as a result of another’s wrongful actions or inactions. Bodily injury can include any physical pain, disability, or illness that compromises your physical well being. “Serious bodily injury” is any physical harm which increases the risk of death or that causes disfigurement, impairment or loss of a body part or organ.
There are three broad categories of personal injury cases or torts. Intentional torts involve injury resulting from a party’s willful and purposeful actions. Strict liability torts involve injury resulting from a company’s defective product. The most common tort is negligence , whereby the defending party is accused of inflicting injury by failing to prevent it. Personal injury claims can be made by the injured party or on behalf the injured party (usually in cases involving minors or deceased persons).
There are several types of personal injury cases, which include- but are not limited to- “slip and fall” or premise injuries, car accidents, nursing home abuses, defective product injuries, medical malpractice, exposure to toxins, job injuries, drug injuries, dog bites, libel, slander, and wrongful death.
There are two components to any personal injury case, damages and liability. Damages refer to the extent of the injury or loss. This includes physical, mental and emotional pain and suffering, mental or physical disability, loss of wages or profits, and all other expenses resulting from the injury. Compensation is intended to restore what a person has lost. Punitive damages, or legal punishment for extremely malicious or willful action, may also be awarded in addition to compensation for losses.
Liability involves proving that the defendant is responsible for the plaintiff’s injuries. In order to receive compensation for a personal injury case three things must be proven: first, that the defendant had a legal responsibility to act (or refrain from a particular action), second, that the defendant failed to act in this manner, and third, that the plaintiff’s injuries were a result of this breech of conduct.
Most personal injury cases are settled out of court by negotiating with the defendant’s insurance company. If a negotiation cannot be reached in this manner, a Compliant of Law must be filed in civil court, most often in the State’s circuit court in the county in which the injury occurred.
When making a personal injury claim, there are statutes of limitation set to define the time between when an injury occurs and when the claim can be filed. These statues vary from state to state and may be different depending on the type of injury involved.