Personal Injury Law

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37621686_0dcd0e12e5_oPersonal Injury Lawsuits

The fact that accidents and mishaps seem to happen all the time does not detract from the pain, suffering, expense and confusion that can result when an accident or injury happens to you or a loved one. If you decide that it is in your best interest to take steps to protect your legal rights after an accident or injury, you will likely have a number of questions about “personal injury” cases.

Here is a great excerpt from http://www.hg.org/torts.html:

What is Personal Injury Law?

Personal injury law refers to the legal remedies and defenses involved in civil lawsuits brought as a result of wrongful conduct. In fact, the word “tort” comes from a Latin term meaning twist, wrong, or harm. In contrast to criminal law, a tort action does not involve the government prosecuting the wrongdoer. Rather, these cases involve a private plaintiff seeking compensation (usually money) for the harm caused by the defendant’s actions.

Most personal injury cases are based on the doctrine of negligence. In essence, negligence requires every member of society to act responsibly and avoid putting others at risk. That is not to say that negligence will result each time someone gets hurt. The doctrine recognizes that some accidents are unavoidable. To establish liability, the plaintiff must show that a reasonably prudent person in the defendant’s position would have acted differently under the circumstances.

Examples of negligence include car accidents caused by drunk drivers, medical complications resulting from a physician’s carelessness, and dog bites that occur when vicious animals are permitted to roam free. In each instance, the responsible party ignored the risk posed to others, and as a result, the plaintiff was injured.

Once negligence has been established in a personal injury case, the defendant must pay the plaintiff for all injuries caused by the defendant’s actions. Certain types of damages are easy to calculate, such as property damage and medical bills. For other types, such as emotional distress and loss of earning capacity, expert testimony may be required. Punitive damages, meant to punish and deter particularly egregious conduct, may also be available.

When initiating a tort action, identifying the proper defendants can be difficult. This is because the “tortfeasor” who directly harmed the plaintiff – be it a delivery driver, nurse, grocery store clerk, or other individual – may not have the financial resources to pay a large judgment. An experienced injury attorney can identify and sue additional parties who are liable based on their relationship to the tortfeasor, such as a landlord or employer.

Common Torts and Defenses

Personal injury law encompasses a number of causes of action besides negligence. Many of these fall under the umbrella of intentional torts. As the name suggests, in these situations the defendant acts purposefully to harm the plaintiff. Examples include assault, battery, false imprisonment, trespass, theft, and infliction of emotional distress.

On the opposite end of the tort spectrum, there are scenarios in which defendants will be liable even though they did everything possible to avoid causing the harm. This is referred to as strict liability. The law will hold a defendant strictly liable if someone is hurt while the defendant is engaging in a highly dangerous activity, even if the activity is legal and all precautions are taken. Building demolition and transporting hazardous materials fall into this category.

Another common tort involves injuries caused by defective products. Liability in these cases can be imposed based on a theory that the manufacturer acted negligently by designing and selling an unsafe product. Or, if certain elements are met, plaintiffs hurt by a defective product may be able to sue under a strict liability theory. Either way, product liability cases have the potential to become large class action lawsuits, involving many plaintiffs and enormous money judgments.

To defend against personal injury liability, defendants tend to rely on a few common defense theories. In negligence cases, the defendant may argue that the plaintiff did not use due care, and is partially or wholly responsible for his or her own injury. The defendant may also claim that the plaintiff “assumed the risk” by voluntarily participating in a dangerous sport or activity, or that the plaintiff impliedly gave the defendant permission to take the action that ended up harming the plaintiff.

Plaintiffs who want to avoid losing a tort case based on such arguments should hire legal counsel. Retaining an attorney will also help avoid the unfortunate circumstance of violating a statute of limitations (that is, missing the deadline for filing the lawsuit), which is always a concern in personal injury cases.

Copyright HG.org

Know your Rights!

  • 10 Important Questions for Your Personal Injury Attorney
    Accidents rarely come with any forewarning, leaving most victims unprepared and unsure of how to proceed. When you or someone you know is injured, you will have a lot of uncertainty and need to make a lot of decisions very quickly. You should always seek immediate medical attention for any injuries and also seek the assistance of qualified, experienced legal representation. But, how do you know who the best attorney is for your case?
  • How Are Damages Established in a Tort Claim?
    The goal of damages in tort actions is to make the injured person “whole” through the award of money to compensate for injuries caused by the accident or incident.
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    I recently spoke to a friend, who is a personal trainer, about diet and exercise. Her advice, while well-intentioned, was wildly off-base from a scientific standpoint. This got me to wondering, what if I had taken her advice to heart and suffered a loss? Would the consequences of choices I made about diet and exercise be mine alone or would she have some liability for her inaccurate assertions?
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  • What is Negligence?
    One can only bring a lawsuit for negligence if they can establish all four of the required elements. If any one of the elements is missing, then there is no negligence from a legal standpoint, and a lawsuit cannot be sustained.
  • What is the Economic Loss Doctrine and How Does it Apply to My Case?
    If you have been involved in a product liability dispute (or some other types of cases), your attorney may have mentioned that your claim is subject to the “economic loss doctrine” or the “economic loss rule.” That could leave you asking what that is and when it applies.
  • What to do After a Bike Accident
    First, the rider must try to keep his or her cool. What you do in the immediate aftermath of any accident, including a bike accident, may have a big impact on how much you recover for your injuries and damage to your bike. It may also affect the outcome of any lawsuits resulting from the accident.
  • What to Do after a Personal Injury
    The moments following an accident or other injury are confusing and overwhelming. You may not know what to do or where to turn if you or a loved one has been injured due to someone’s negligence or wrongdoing.

Personal Injury Case Handbook

Articles About Personal Injury Law

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    Who is at fault if someone gets bit by a dog? Is it the owner of the animal? Perhaps the individual who came too close and threatened the animal? Read more here.
  • Stopping Distances for Commercial Vehicles
    Due to the potential for serious damage, the trucking industry is highly regulated. Truck drivers must follow a complete set of rules regarding the amount of miles that they can drive in a day, the number of hours a day that the truck driver can travel and when they must take breaks. The large nature of commercial vehicles makes them a potentially dangerous object on the roadways. As such, truck drivers must take their stopping distances into consideration.
  • Exceptions to Limited Tort in Pennsylvania Automotive Accident Cases
    Pennsylvania offers a number of different insurance options in addition to the mandated personal injury protection requirement. Limited tort insurance minimizes the damages that a claimant can receive, but some exceptions allow the victim to recover more damages.
  • Is It Important to Hire an Attorney with Specialized Experienced Handling Specific Case Types?
    The decision to hire an attorney, and more specifically, whom to hire, is one of the most important decisions an individual contemplating a lawsuit will ever make. When considering whom to hire, clients will often mull over an attorney’s rates, case history, or like-ability. But what clients sometimes overlook, yet what is absolutely vital, is whether a prospective attorney has the proper experience and expertise to handle a specific claim.
  • Jury Awards $12.5 Million in Transvaginal Mesh Trial
    A woman was awarded by a jury for the alleged pain, suffering and corrective surgeries she endured due to her Transvaginal Mesh implant.
  • Newly Introduced Bill Would Grant Attorneys Fees in All Indiana Wrongful Death Cases
    Two Of Indiana’s Wrongful Death Statutes currently provide for attorneys fees in bringing a wrongful death claim. Senate Bill 124 would make it so that attorneys fees are provided by all three statutes.
  • Will My Pre-Existing Condition Prevent Me From Getting What I Deserve From the Insurance Company in Arkansas?
    In Arkansas personal injury cases, pre-existing conditions do not always prevent you from recovering from the person who caused your injury.
  • Do I Have a Case in Arkansas Even if I Wasn’t Wearing My Seat Belt When I Was Injured?
    Even if you were not wearing your seat belt when you were hit by a negligent driver, you may still be entitled to recovery for your injuries from an automobile accident.Seat Belt Safety.
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    An 18-Wheeler Against a Car, Pickup, SUV, Motorcycle, or Minivan is Not a Fair Fight. You know that, but sometimes truck drivers act like they don’t.
  • All Tort and Personal Injury Law Articles
    Articles written by attorneys and experts worldwide discussing legal aspects related to Tort and Personal Injury including: animal bites, asbestos mesothelioma, back and neck injury, bicycle accident, birth injury, brain injury, burn injuries, catastrophic injuries, construction accidents, construction injuries, defamation, libel and slander, defective products, industrial injuries, mass tort, negligence, nursing home abuse, pedestrian accident, personal injury, premises liability, product liability, sexual abuse, slip and fall, spinal cord injury, torts, toxic mold, toxic torts, workplace injuries and wrongful death.

Statute of Limitations by State

Personal Injury Law – US

  • ABA – Personal Injury
    The American Bar Association’s personal injury web page contains information about pursuing a claim, as well as general discussions of negligence, medical malpractice, and products liability law.
  • ABA – Tort Trial and Insurance Practice Section (TIPS)
    TIPS brings together legal professionals from all sides of tort law, including plaintiffs’ attorneys, defense lawyers, and insurance representatives. While aimed at practitioners, the site contains news and events of interest to the public.
  • Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA)
    The U.S. House of Representatives provides this online summary of the FTCA. Those looking to sue an employee of the federal government will find this to be a useful starting point for further research.
  • Personal Injury – Wikipedia
    This web page offers an encyclopedia-style description of personal injury law in the U.S. and abroad. The discussion includes information about insurance coverage and the taxation of damage awards.
  • Theories of Tort Law
    Stanford University has compiled this outline of tort law theories and practices. A significant portion of the discussion deals with the economic aspects of the subject. An extensive biography is provided.
  • Tort Law – Overview
    Cornell University Law School maintains a series of web pages known as the Legal Information Institute (LII). The tort law page offers a thorough overview, with in-text links to related topics.
  • USDOJ – Torts Branch
    This page explains the role of the U.S. Department of Justice in tort legislation involving the federal government and its officers. The page also provides access to an expandable flow chart of the entire USDOJ civil division.

Organizations Related to Personal Injury

Publications Regarding Personal Injury

Where are the Laws that Govern Personal Injury Cases?

Unlike some other areas of the law that whose rules originate in statutes (such as a states’ penal codes in criminal cases for example), the advancement of personal injury law has mostly taken place in court decisions, and in treatises that have been written by legal scholars. Many states have taken a number of steps to summarize the development of personal injury law in more easily organized written statutes, but for most practical purposes, court decisions continue to be the main source of the law in any legal case arising from an accident, injury or negligence.

If you feel like you have a case or would like to speak to someone about your injuries, please contact us.