An accident at your workplace. An injury while using a purportedly safe machine. Sickness due to something you ate… These things happen with alarming regularity. And when they occur, you are not without options. Enter the world of personal injury law. If you suspect that you were harmed due to the negligence of others, here’s what you should know before hiring a personal injury lawyer.
The Many Realms Of Personal Injury Law
Personal injury law covers a wide range of circumstances where a person suffers harm. These include:
- Defamation or slander. When a person has been lied about, and this has negatively affected their life or reputation. The injured party must, in most cases, prove that the slander is untrue in order to win a defamation suit. This type of case can be difficult to win because many actions, such as freedom of speech, are protected under the constitution. The plaintiff must prove that pain and suffering resulted from the defamation.
- Accidents. Personal injury claims involving accidents are one of the most well-known types of suits. It includes medical malpractice, slips and falls on property that should be safe, car accidents, etc.
- Intentional torts. This claim applies when a person’s intentional conduct causes harm. For example, assault, battery, fraud, invasion of privacy, etc. Intentional acts are often ground for criminal prosecution.
- Defective products. Manufacturers of defective products that cause harm are often liable. A defective product could cause injury through insufficient safety warnings and / or design flaws.
The Progression Of A Personal Injury Case
- Hiring a lawyer. The first step in a personal injury case is to speak with a personal injury attorney. In that session, your attorney will evaluate the likelihood of your case being awarded damages or receiving a settlement.
- Filing a complaint. If your lawyer deems that your case has a strong chance of winning, they will file a complaint. This complaint outlines your case against the person you are suing (the defendant). The court then issues a summons to the defendant and sets out the time frame the defendant must file an answer or seek to have the case dismissed. At this point, the defendant can file an answer, or a counter claim.
- Discovery. Both parties must disclose all relevant material to the opposing side before trial. Discovery usually consists of three forms: depositions, producing documents, and written discovery.
- Motions to dismiss and settlements. It is possible that your case will never see a trial. Evidence may come to light disproving your claim of personal injury, allowing the defendant to file a motion to dismiss. Conversely, if evidence is strongly in your favor, the defendant may choose to settle rather than go to court.
- Trial. If your case goes to trial, it is then up to a judge or a jury to decide whether the defendant should be held responsible for your injury. Depending on the outcome, you may or may not be compensated for your injury.
The Costs Of A Personal Injury Lawsuit
In the majority of personal injury lawsuits, the attorney is paid through a percentage of the final settlement from winning the suit. This amount is agreed upon between you and your lawyer. A written agreement between both parties at the start ensures no misunderstanding about what you will end up paying.
How Much Is A Case Worth?
Typically, when awarding compensation, a judge or jury will look at the total amount of your medical costs. This includes long-term medical costs. Additionally, what other income / potential income you have lost due to your injury. These are the basics, but other considerations may also come into play.
Personal injury law is multi-faceted and complex. The road to receiving compensation can be long and arduous. Getting sound legal counsel will help you better understand whether or not you should pursue your personal injury claim.