What Exactly is Personal Injury Law?

We hear the commercials on the radio and can’t help but see the countless number of billboards advertising personal injury lawyers and law firms, but what exactly is personal injury?  Personal injury law is much more than just slips, trips, & falls.  Personal injury law is a branch of tort law that aims to compensate people who have been physically or psychologically injured as a result of the negligence or wrongdoing of another party. 

The word “tort” comes from the Latin word tortum, meaning “wrong”. Unlike criminal law, a tort action does not involve the government prosecuting the wrongdoer. Instead, these types of cases involve a plaintiff seeking compensation for the harm that was caused by the defendant’s actions, or lack thereof.  A personal injury case can become formalized through civil court proceedings that seek to find others legally at fault through a court judgment or, these disputes may be resolved through an out-of-court settlement before any lawsuit is filed.

Personal injury law covers a wide range of accidents.  Some cases are straightforward, while others — like those involving medical malpractice — can be complicated and require expert testimony.

Some of the most common types of personal injury cases include:

·        Car accidents

·        Slip and fall accidents

·        Wrongful death

·        Medical malpractice

·        Product liability

·        Premise liability

·        Nursing home abuse

·        Workplace injuries

·        Dog bites

The goal of personal injury law is to make up for the losses and inconvenience an individual suffers due to an injury by requiring the responsible party to pay money to the injured person. The injured person must prove liability on the part of the responsible party in order to recover damages.

In general, personal injury cases arise when someone acts negligently.  To have a valid case, your personal injury attorney must be able to show that your injury was caused by the negligence of another party. To prove negligence, your injury lawyer must prove four separate things.

1.      Duty – The defendant owed a duty of reasonable care to the plaintiff

2.      Breach – The defendant breached that duty

3.      Causation – The plaintiff was injured

4.      Damages – The defendant’s breach of duty caused the injury

To determine if duty exists, the courts will often ask if the accident or injury were foreseeable.  To determine if a breach occurred the court will likely compare the defendant to a reasonable person.  If the defendant’s level of care is determined to fall below the level of care you would expect from a reasonable person, they would say the defendant breached their duty of care.  There must be proof that the defendant’s breach of care caused the plaintiff’s injury.  There are two types of causation, actual cause and proximate cause.  Actual cause is if the defendant had done something differently, would the accident have happened?  Proximate cause is if the defendant’s carelessness was close in time and space to the injury.  In order to establish damages, it must be proven that the plaintiff’s injury was a direct result of the defendant’s actions. 

Many personal injury cases are handled on a contingency fee basis, which means that your attorney won’t charge you any money unless you win your case but will take a percentage of any settlement you receive. If you don’t win, you won’t owe any fees. Other types of fees may include filing fees and court costs for depositions and document filings.

Nearly 90% of people injured, due to the fault of another person, do not receive any compensation for their personal injuries. This is often because they think receiving a large settlement is a one-in-a-million chance. It’s not. If you have been injured because of another person’s fault, such as a car accident, slip & fall, or even a defective product, Woolsey Morcom is here, and will help you figure out what to do next.

So how do you evaluate your own personal injury case? Do you know what happens next once you’ve turned it over to an attorney? Do you know the questions that will be asked and the legal steps that will be taken? If not, it’s time to find out. Woolsey Morcom has the experience needed for evaluating your injury claim and ensuring you get the money that you deserve, whether you were in a car accident or were injured at work.

If you or someone you know has suffered an injury due to someone else’s negligence or wrongdoing, please contact one of our experienced personal injury attorneys today for a free consultation about your claim.  We have attorneys on standby who will speak with you and let you know what your rights are.  Call us first at 904-638-4235 or fill out our online submission form here and someone will be in touch with you soon to get your questions answered and pointed in the right direction. 

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