Personal injury is the injury to a person’s body or mind. These causes of action are based on tort law, which is a broad area of law that covers behaviors that cause injury, suffering, or harm to another person.
The general term litigation refers to the process of taking legal action through the court system. Litigation differs from other means of conflict resolution, such as mediation or counseling. Thus, personal injury litigation involves legal action in court for the purpose of seeking monetary damages for economic losses.
Some examples of the most common personal injury cases are:
- Negligence related injuries, including car accidents;
- Malpractice related claims;
- Injuries related to defective products;
- Injuries related to premises liability claims; and
- Pedestrian accidents.
These types of cases are often litigated in court due to the injuries associated with these cases, as they often result in major costs and expenses for the victim or plaintiff.
What is the Goal of Personal Injury Litigation?
In general, the goal of personal injury litigation is to compensate the injured party for losses resulting from an accident, or negligent conduct on the part of the other party involved. As previously mentioned, this compensation typically comes in the form of a monetary damages award.
A monetary damages award is also referred to as compensatory damages, as they are compensating the person receiving it for the injuries they suffered. Damages will most commonly be awarded in personal injury cases in order to cover the following:
- Hospital bills;
- Lost wages, such as those lost due to missing work because of the injury; and
- Collateral property damage, such as in a car accident.
Many personal injury cases also result in damages awards for other issues. Some examples of this include pain and suffering and punitive damages, among others. However, these damages may not be available in all cases; and, many personal injury cases include other legal remedies.
A common example of this would be an injunction, which is a court order that instructs the defendant to cease specific types of conduct. The court might order a company to cease creating toxic waste in communities, if this conduct is causing widespread injury to a neighborhood.
Compensatory damages may be further classified as two different types. Special damages may be awarded in order to restore the injured party to the position they were in prior to the accident and its resulting injury.
These damages can be calculated, such as medical expenses and other quantifiable losses. General damages are those that may be awarded for losses that cannot be easily calculated, such as defamation.
What are Some Common Difficulties Faced During Personal Injury Litigation?
Personal injury, as a branch in the legal field, can be divided into three different types of claims. These claims are intentional torts, negligence, and strict liability. Each type of claim comes with its own set of elements that must be proven in order to recover any damages. Because of this, personal injury litigation is complex and complicated.
Determining fault is one of the most common difficulties faced during personal injury litigation. In order for the court to find the defendant at fault, the plaintiff is responsible for proving that the defendant was the cause of their injury.
This must be done through the utilization of evidence. The plaintiff may use eyewitness testimony, video surveillance, medical documentation, defendant’s statements, and expert testimony in order to meet this element.
Determining fault may prove to be difficult in cases such as those involving medical malpractice or defective products. This is because medicine is a practice that does not produce exact results, and a product can pass through many hands which may make it difficult to discover who exactly is at fault.
Calculating damages is another common difficulty that may be faced during personal injury litigation. This is due to the fact that it may be difficult to calculate exactly how much should be owed in damages.
Additionally, state laws can vary regarding compensatory damages, with some states placing limits on damages that may be received. This may be especially true for general damages. The plaintiff will need to prove the elements for that type of claim, which is most commonly negligence. A plaintiff’s awarded damages may be reduced or limited, such as if the plaintiff somehow contributed to their own injury.
Should I Hire an Attorney If I’ve Been Injured?
Because personal injury is a complex field of law, and personal injury litigation requires a high level of knowledge on the subject, it is in your best interest to consult with a skilled and knowledgeable personal injury attorney.
The attorney will provide you with legal advice and information regarding your state’s specific personal injury and compensatory damages laws. Additionally, they can assess your case, and make you aware of what types of compensation may be available to you. Finally, they can file your claim, and represent you in court as needed.