A personal injury is any injury to your “person.” That is, to your body itself. Interestingly, however, personal injury cases can also involve financial and property “injuries” as well. In fact, personal injury cases can even involve only property or financial damage, although those cases are far less common.
As long as you have suffered harm of some kind that was likely due to the fault of another person, you may have grounds for a personal injury lawsuit. An experienced personal injury lawyer will be able to consider the unique factors of your individual situation and help you decide if you have a valid legal claim.
What is a Personal Injury Lawsuit?
A personal injury lawsuit involves a claim that someone else is at fault for your injuries. Although it may end up in court, not all personal injury lawsuits get that far. In fact, many personal injury lawsuits settle significantly before they are scheduled to be heard in front of a judge or jury.
Instead, parties may informally settle a case. Settlement involves an agreement where one party pays the other party a certain sum of money to avoid the expense and time associated with going before a judge to decide the case.
Personal injury laws are based partly in statutes and have also been developed by courts over time. Many personal injury laws are based on “common law.” Common law is a term used for law that courts have been using even before statutes were developed. It is partly based on European law, which Americans borrowed from heavily when our nation was founded.
Common Types of Personal Injury Lawsuits
Personal injury lawsuits can take many forms. They may include:
- Car accident claims
- Slip and fall cases
- Medical malpractice lawsuits
- Defamation claims (libel and slander)
- Dog bites
- Intentional torts (assault and battery)
Each type of case relies on different laws and requirements. Car accident cases are by far the most common type of personal injury case.
Proving a Personal Injury Case
In most cases, you have to prove that the other person involved owed you a duty of care. In car accident cases, for example, this point is usually easy to prove because every driver on the road owes other drivers a duty of care simply by driving upon the road.
You also have to show that the other person breached that duty of care. Showing carelessness may be difficult, depending on the unique facts of the case. In some situations, however, simply showing that the other person was breaking a law when the injury occurred may be enough to show a breach of their duty of care. Speeding just before a car accident is a common example.
The third thing that you must show is causation. You must prove that whoever you have named as the wrongful party actually caused your damages. In car accident cases, this factor can become complicated if there is shared fault or if the accident involved more than just two vehicles.
Lastly, you must also show your damages. You should present specific evidence of your injuries and show how the harm has impacted your life. Your personal injury lawyer can help you put your case together to show each of these elements in a way that fits with your type of case.