Personal injury law, also known as tort law, is a facet of civil law that protects an individual’s rights when injured or if their property is damaged by someone’s acts or failure to act. The premise of personal injury law is for the at-fault party to compensate the victim for the injuries or property damage.
On the surface, tort law seems pretty straightforward; all there is to it is for the at-fault party to pay the victim. However, this would be an oversimplification of an otherwise complex matter. At its core, personal injury law is a complex legal affair that draws from various aspects of civil law.
Today, we’ll explore the basics of tort law to give you a firm understanding of the legal matter.
Typical Personal Injury Cases
There are plenty of scenarios where personal injury law applies, amounting to a personal injury case. Some typical personal injury cases include:
A road accident happens every 60 seconds, meaning there’s a potential personal injury case every time. Most road accidents occur as a result of negligence or carelessness of another driver or cyclist. They fit the threshold for a personal injury case because they involve a victim and an at-fault party.
Apart from car accidents, other incidents like slip-and-falls, malpractice, and workplace accidents can amount to personal injury cases. That’s because these scenarios also involve a victim and an at-fault party.
This occurs when an individual purchases a defective product whose usage causes bodily harm or property damage. The products can include an automotive, mechanical, medical, or consumable product. The victim has the right to file a product liability lawsuit against the manufacturer.
As the name connotes, intentional acts are when an individual’s deliberate actions cause bodily harm to another or damages their property. Intentional acts include battery, assault, and even intentional infliction of emotional pain.
This is when someone’s statement, both verbal or written, causes harm to another. Other designations for defamation include slander or libel. This may include slander of name, title, goods, and other ill-natured falsities.
A personal injury lawyer is responsible for formalizing cases by representing the faulted party at a court proceeding. The court’s onus is to confirm or rule out fault and deliver a judgment in line with the findings. However, some people handle personal injury cases out of court via informal settlements instead of filing a claim in court.
A personal injury case can take two routes, namely:
The onset of a formal personal injury lawsuit happens when an individual, the plaintiff, files a lawsuit against another person or institution.
The plaintiff does this through a personal injury lawyer who represents them in the court proceedings. The plaintiff alleges that the defendant acted carelessly, recklessly, or irresponsibly, leading to the defendant’s injury or property destruction.
Some people may choose not to involve the courts in their personal injury dispute. As mentioned above, others resort to an out-of-court or informal settlement that involves both parties’ insurers and lawyers. If found culpable, the at-fault party pays the claim in an amount agreed on by both parties.
Which Laws Dictate Personal Injury Cases?
Personal injury cases are slightly different from other cases whose rules are etched in statutes. Personal injury law is a culmination of numerous court decisions and treatises written by various legal scholars.
In practice, the court determines what personal injury law entails, despite written statutes that attempt to summarize it.
What Are Statutes of Limitation?
The statutes of limitation define a limited time that plaintiffs have to file a personal injury lawsuit. The period referred to in the statutes of limitation begins when the plaintiff discovers injuries or property damage.
Plaintiffs must act fast after discovering their injuries and find an attorney or law firm to sue the at-fault party for punitive damages.
The Personal Injury Case Proceeding
Personal injury cases vary because no two incidents can be the same. That said, all personal injury cases roughly break down into three steps:
The defendant’s actions injure the plaintiff. Any personal injury case must involve two parties, the defendant and the plaintiff. The plaintiff faults the defendant for causing bodily harm or property damage to them. This marks the beginning of the personal injury case.
The plaintiff establishes fault on the defendant’s part: The plaintiff clearly describes the sequence of events and actions that led to their bodily harm or property damage. These actions or lack thereof may be described as a breach of legal duty.
Legal duty, in this case, depends on the events leading to the injury and the situational context. For instance, doctors have a legal duty to treat patients according to their medical training and administer the proper medication. The court considers failure to do so as a breach of legal duty and medical malpractice.
Settlement talks and subsequent settlement: If it is evident that the defendant breached a legal duty, then the defendant must compensate the plaintiff through the insurer. However, as mentioned earlier, both parties may choose to settle the matter out of court. This means the defendant offers the plaintiff a cash settlement, and the plaintiff stops the lawsuit.
The personal injury case ends when the plaintiff agrees to the settlement. If not, the plaintiff may go back to court and file a personal injury lawsuit. In any case, if you want to pursue a personal injury case, you’ll need the backing of a reputable lawyer like this this personal injury attorney, for instance.
Personal Injury Law Made Easy
The above information should give you a firm idea of what personal injury law entails and the legal framework for personal injury cases. There’s a lot more you’ll need to cover if you want to be a tort law expert, but the above should do for now.
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