Understanding Personal Injury Law

  What Is Personal Injury Law?

Personal injury law is the body of law that allows an injured person to recover when his/her injury was suffered due to the negligent actions or omissions of another person or corporation. It may be as simple as a car accident where someone runs a red light or as complex as damages caused by an oil spill in the gulf or a plant explosion.  Modern personal injury law developed from the old English “tort” law.  “Tort” is derived from the Latin word “tortus” meaning “wrong.”

Personal injury law stems from the basic principle that every person has a duty to conduct themselves in a way that does not cause injury to other people. Or said another way, every person has a duty to exercise reasonable care. “Reasonable care” is that degree of care that an ordinary prudent person would exercise under the same or similar circumstances. If a person breaches that duty and causes another injury he may be held liable to the person for the damage done. Thus, the basis elements of a tort case are:

  1. Duty
  2. Breach of Duty
  3. Proximate Cause
  4. Damages

Our legal system holds people and corporations liable for their negligence by ordering that they pay an amount of money that a jury determines fairly makes up for or “compensates” them for the harms and losses that their negligent conduct proximately caused. “Proximate cause” means a cause that was a substantial factor in bringing about an event, and without which cause such event would not have occurred. In order to be a proximate cause, the act or omission complained of must be such that a person using ordinary care would have foreseen that the event, or some similar event, might reasonably result therefrom. There may be more than one proximate cause of an event.

Types of Injury Cases

You may not realize it, but the field of personal injury is a very broad field.  Meaning just because a lawyer handles injury cases as a part of his practice, does not mean he has experience in all areas of personal injury law. A list of common injury cases are listed below.

Most injury lawyers will handle truck accident and other serious injury cases nation wide and most other  injury cases anywhere in the State they practice  Some will help you with medical malpractice cases, but they are likely to be referred with your approval to a firm that focuses on medical malpractice law due to their highly-specialized nature.

Common Types of Personal Injuries

Not every injury case must go to trial or even have a lawsuit filed. In fact, about 70% of the cases are resolved before it comes to filing a lawsuit. Ultimately, if the case must go to trial, the plaintiff, or person aggrieved, bears the burden of proof.  Once each of the elements has been proven, then a verdict may be rendered in favor of the injured party against the defendant.

For more information on this, read: What happens when I file a personal injury lawsuit?