A personal injury case is a legal claim that arises from injuries caused by the carelessness, negligence, or fault of another person or institution. Personal injury cases include car accidents, slip and fall incidents, animal attacks, or situations when injuries were caused by dangerous products or improperly manufactured equipment.
Most personal injury cases have common features:
- an injury
- medical bills incurred through treatment
- lost wages
- a residual or permanent injury
A personal injury case starts with an injury
For example, in an accident where there is no physical harm, the victim may sue the responsible party for property damage but they would not have a personal injury case. Without a physical and/or emotional injury, it doesn’t matter who was at fault or how careless the other person was. If there were no injuries, there is no personal injury case.
The second essential element in every personal injury case is legal fault by another person or institution. If there is no fault, no one is legally responsible for the injury and no one can be sued. It is not uncommon for an injury to be entirely the victim’s fault. Often, however, somebody else’s negligence is to blame.
The most important job of any personal injury lawyer is proving fault.
It is easy when fault is obvious, such as when a driver rear-ends another vehicle. But even apparently simple cases can raise legal or factual questions. For example, who is to blame when both drivers are asserting the other is at fault? Personal injury lawyers can help investigate negligence.
To effectively develop and prove a personal injury case is the hallmark of an experienced personal injury lawyer. Most personal injury cases settle long before trial. However, more serious cases and cases with complicated facts or disputes about reasonableness of treatment and/or bills may be unlikely to settle.