What is personal injury law? Keep reading to find out.
Personal injury laws (sometimes called “tort” law) allows an injured individual to file a civil claim in court and receive a legal compensation (“damages”) for losses incurred as a result of an accident or other event.
The intent of the personal injury law system is to enable the injured individual to receive compensation financially or “made whole” after they have suffered harm because of someone else’s carelessness or intentional behavior.
There is a wide variety of different circumstances in which personal injury rules apply:
- Accidents. Personal injury laws apply in cases in which an individual acts in a careless manner, and that negligence causes harm to another individual. Instances include car accidents, slip and fall accidents, and medical malpractices, among other kinds of cases.
- Intentional Conduct. Personal injury laws pertain to situations in which a defendant’s deliberate actions causes harm to another individual. Instances of this include assault and battery, and other deliberate torts.
- Defective Products. When a vehicle part, products consumer use, medical devices, pharmaceuticals, or other products that are defective or excessively dangerous; anyone harmed by using the product could be able to file a product liability lawsuit towards the manufacturer.
- Defamation. Personal injury law applies when one individual’s defamatory statements cause harm to another.
Who Creates Personal Injury Laws?
A lot of personal injury laws can be traced to old “common law rules.” Common law is in reference to law created by judges, rather than laws created by legislatures or passed through bills and statutes.
When a judge hears and comes to a decision on a case, their decision on that issue of law becomes imposed precedent over any other courts in the state that are “lower-level” than the presiding judge’s court. Those other courts then must enforce what the first judge said, and ultimately, all this imposed precedent creates a body of “common law.”
Common law can and will differ by state, so the regulations for personal injury law might not be consistent across the US. A lot of the common law has been concentrated into something known as the Restatement of Torts, in which is a type of guidebook that establishes what the regulations are, and many states take direction from this on personal injury issues.
Common law isn’t the only source of personal injury law. Legislation have passed laws that touch on personal injury matters. For instance, when legislation passed workers’ compensation statutes, they basically took all causes of work-associated injuries outside the field of personal injury and turned workers’ compensation into the sole remedy for injured employees (in many cases preventing injury-associated lawsuits towards employers).
One other state law it affects cases is the statute of limitations, in which places a limit on the period of time you have to file an injury- associated lawsuit through your state’s civil court system.
How P.I Cases Work:
- Defendant’s action injures the plaintiff, stemming from various careless acts except for contractual breaches.
Breach of Legal Responsibility:
- Plaintiff demonstrates that the defendant breached a legal duty, dependent on the context of the injury.
- Clear breach prompts settlement discussions where the defendant or their insurer may propose compensation to avoid a lawsuit.
Settlement or Lawsuit:
- If plaintiff agrees to a settlement, the case concludes. Otherwise, they may file a personal injury lawsuit.
- Lawsuit may trigger court proceedings, with settlement negotiations possible even after filing, up until the case goes to the jury.
Consult with a Lawyer:
- Before pursuing a personal injury case, seek advice from a personal injury lawyer to understand your situation and options.
David Goguen, J. D. (2020, November 15). Learning the basics: Personal injury law. www.alllaw.com. Retrieved April 20, 2022, from https://www.alllaw.com/articles/nolo/personal-injury/introduction.html
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