You've suffered an injury and think that someone else is responsible for your injuries. Even though it's probably the last thing you want to do while dealing with an injury, it's best to take certain steps immediately after an injury. For example, taking detailed notes of the incident and injuries can strengthen your case. These notes can also be helpful when discussing your legal options with an attorney. Even if you've hired an experienced personal injury attorney, it's good to have an idea of what's going on in your case. In FindLaw's Injury Law Basics section, you can find articles that explain different types of personal injuries that could result in a personal injury case, tips for working with an injury lawyer, and the stages of a personal injury case.
What Is a Personal Injury Case?
A personal injury case is a legal dispute that arises after a person suffers harm from an injury where someone else might be legally responsible for that harm. Personal injury law has mostly developed through court decisions, although many states have taken steps to summarize the development of personal injury law in their statutes. A personal injury can result in a civil lawsuit or be resolved through informal settlement negotiations.
A personal injury case can also be resolved through alternative dispute resolution, which is a middle ground between a trial and informal settlement negotiations. Examples of alternative dispute resolution are mediation and arbitration. Alternative dispute resolution involves a neutral third party – a mediator or arbitrator – to guide the negotiation discussions and sometimes even render a decision. There are also instances in which alternative dispute resolution is binding, meaning that the parties must abide by the third party's decision.
Types of Injuries
Injuries can happen for a variety of reasons. Sometimes someone else is at fault, sometimes you only have your self to blame, and other times it's simply an accident. If someone else is at fault for your injuries, you may have a legitimate claim for damages.
There are various situations in which another person or company can be responsible for your injuries. The clearest example is when a person is injured after another person's intentional acts. Examples of intentional acts that can lead to another person's injuries are assault, battery, and slander. In most cases, the intention doesn't need to be to harm someone. Instead, the person must simply have the intention to perform a particular act. For example, if someone pulls the chair out from under another person, and the victim falls and breaks his or her arm, the actor could be held liable for the victim's injuries. Although the person probably didn't intend for the victim to break his or her arm, the person did intend to pull the chair out from under the victim.
A person can also be held responsible for another person's injuries if he or she acted in a negligent manner. The elements of negligence are: duty, breach, causation, and damages. The plaintiff must prove each element in order for the plaintiff to win his or her case. Negligence is a common claim for injuries resulting from car accidents.
There are several other causes for injuries that could result in a valid legal claim. Injuries that result from medical malpractice or a prescription drug could be a reason for a personal injury lawsuit. Even food poisoning could result in a civil lawsuit for damages.
Hiring a Personal Injury Lawyer
If you or someone you love has suffered an injury that you believe is the fault of another person or company, you may want to contact a local personal injury attorney to discuss your legal options. It's important to remember that each state has a time limit for when a personal injury lawsuit can be filed. For this reason, it's important to contact a personal injury attorney as soon as possible after being injured.