Personal injury law refers to the set of laws designed to protect the rights of those who are injured through the negligent or deliberately wrongful acts of another party. A personal injury, as defined by these laws, can be physical, psychological, or both. Personal injury cases most often arise from accidents, including car accidents, accidents that occur on someone else's unsafe property, and accidents that result from the use of a defective product.
Negligence and Liability
In order to fully understand personal injury law, it is essential to understand the concepts of negligence and liability. Negligence occurs when a person fails to exercise reasonable care in his or her actions, or fails to act as a reasonable person would under similar circumstances, resulting in another person's injury or wrongful death. Liability refers to the responsibility of the negligent party for the injury or death. In order for the injured party or the family of the deceased to be compensated, a personal injury lawyer must be able to demonstrate negligence and prove liability.
Damages in a Personal Injury Case
Personal injury cases are civil cases; they differ from criminal cases in that the jury's verdict will involve the question of compensatory damages rather than jail or prison time. Many personal injury cases are actually settled outside of court; however, a good personal injury attorney will always be willing to try a case to verdict if it is in the best interests of his or her client. Typically, injured parties are eligible to recover compensation for medical bills, lost wages, and other losses and expenses directly related to the injury. In cases of extreme negligence, punitive damages - damages meant to punish the liable party for particularly egregious actions or inactions - may also be awarded. In general, personal injury cases are complex, and their successful resolution depends on an intimate familiarity with local, state, and federal laws. Most reputable personal injury law firms evaluate cases free of charge and collect payment only if they are able to recover compensation on behalf of the injured party.