What is a Personal Injury Case?

What is a Personal Injury Case?

Personal injury cases are those in which a person suffers physical or emotional injuries due to the negligent conduct of another person or entity. For example, an automobile accident in which one driver smashes into the rear of another car that is stopped at a traffic signal, or a person who trips on a broken sidewalk that was not properly maintained.

Other types of personal injury cases include malpractice and products liability. A malpractice case involves a doctor, accountant, lawyer or other professional whose deviation from the usual standards of the profession results in injury to a patient or client. In a product liability case, the manufacturer or distributor of a defective product might be liable to a user who is injured.

Proving Damages and Fault

It is not enough to merely say you have been injured in an accident. The law requires that you prove your injury was caused by negligence and the resulting damages. For instance, a person whose leg is broken in an accident may have medical expenses, lost earnings, and pain and suffering from the injury. 

Source: U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, “Tort Bench and Jury Trials in State Courts, 2005,” Thomas H. Cohen, Nov. 2009.


Begin with an Assessment of the Case

Cases involving severe injuries or multiple parties are best left to a qualified attorney. The same is true for cases involving complex legal questions. For example, if you are involved in a multiple car accident it may be necessary to prove which of the drivers was negligent in causing the incident or whether you were comparatively at fault.

Understanding How an Attorney Can Help

A common mistake people make when they try to handle a personal injury case on their own is to assume that if they find the case to be beyond their abilities they can turn it over to an attorney. It is generally best to get an attorney involved from the beginning. Once you speak to the insurance company, anything you say or any information you give to the insurance company can be used against you. Retaining an attorney later cannot undo any damage you might have done to your case.

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