Personal injury is a body of law which affords civil legal remedies to individuals who have been injured as a result of another’s wrongful conduct. The responsible party—which can be an individual, company, corporation, business, or government agency—is the liable to pay the injured party for their suffering. This can be accomplished at a civil trial or by settlement between the parties.
Civil trials are the most formal path that a personal injury lawsuit will take to reach an outcome to the case. The case begins when the plaintiff files a civil complaint against the liable party, alleging the defendant’s misconduct and plaintiff’s injury. If the parties cannot or do not want to settle the case, the case moves on to trial where both parties present their evidence to the judge and jury. The judge or jury then determines whether the defendant was actually liable, and if so, will determine how much the plaintiff is entitled to in order to redress their harm.
Leading up to a civil trial, and even sometimes before a complaint is even filed, the parties can agree to settle the case. This usually occurs during a mediation where both parties and their representatives get together to present their evidence and between themselves attempt to reach an agreement on what the case is worth. Many cases end up being settled this way because they are generally more expedient and less expensive than going to trial.
What Kinds of Damages are Available?
“Damages” is a legal term that refers to the losses a plaintiff suffers as a result of their injury. If the plaintiff wins their personal injury case, they will receive compensation for those losses.
Type of “actual” damages that are available in personal injury cases include medical bills arising from previous and continuing care for the injury, lost wages if the plaintiff had to miss work as a result of the injury, pain and suffering which can be awarded for especially significant injuries where the plaintiff suffered extreme physical pain, and emotional distress where the plaintiff suffered extreme emotional pain.
What are the Common Torts in Personal Injury Cases?
Primarily, personal injury cases revolve around (but are not limited to) negligence issues. The prima facie case for negligence requires that (1) the plaintiff suffer some kind of injury, (2) the defendant had a duty to act as a reasonably prudent person would have acted in that situation, (3) the defendant breach that duty and (4) that the defendant’s breaching of their duty actually and proximately cause that injury to the plaintiff.
Other common torts in personal injury law include injuries resulting from car accidents, medical complications, defamation, dog bites, defective products, assault, battery, false imprisonment, trespass, infliction of emotional distress and theft. The wrongful conduct in these cases are varied, and the conduct can be accidental or intentional.
What Laws Govern Personal Injury Law?
As the lawyers at Cannon & Associates can explain, personal injury law has largely been developed by common law. Common law refers to court decisions and scholarly treatises, such as the Second Restatement of Torts, which are ruled on and applied in one case, and then applied to other later cases where the parties are in a similar situation. This practice is adopted so that persons in similar situations do not get treated differently or unfairly. Some states have written statutes adopting these common trends through their legislature, but cases and scholarly trends are the main source of law in personal injury cases.