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What You Need to Know About Personal Injury Cases

Millennial magazine - personal injury

Did you know that personal injury cases don’t just apply to motor vehicle accidents?

Personal law specifically deals with injuries and damages. Any event in which you suffer harm due to another person or entity’s action (or inaction) qualifies as a personal injury.

Personal injury lawsuits against an individual or entity may come about for a defective consumer product, dog bites, workplace accidents, wrongful death, and more.

In a successful personal injury case, the at-fault party is legally responsible for providing you with compensation for the harm they have caused.

Here’s everything you need to know about this highly specialized area of law.

The Types of Legal Cases

There are two types of legal cases in the United States: criminal and civil.

Criminal cases occur when someone is suspected of breaking the law and is charged with a criminal offense by the state. Civil cases, however, involve individuals or entities. Personal injury cases are civil cases.

If you have suffered harm by someone else’s negligence (and through no fault of your own), you may want to pursue legal remedies via Lamber Goodnow Injury Lawyers Chicago. The goal is to hold that individual or entity accountable and legally responsible for making amends.

How Personal Injury Claims Work

If you have suffered harm due to another person’s negligence, you should approach a personal injury lawyer to determine if you have a case.

If your lawyer confirms you have a reasonable case, your situation may be resolved in three ways: a settlement, mediation or arbitration, or filing a lawsuit.

Settlement

Your personal injury lawyer may recommend settling with the at-fault party. If you agree, your lawyer will contact the at-fault party and work with their insurance company and lawyer to resolve your grievance.

Your lawyer and the other party’s lawyer may go through a negotiation process. When a conclusion is reached, the settlement will be put in writing. Typically, a settlement will conclude with compensation to you from the other party’s insurance company.

If the settlement is satisfactory, you will sign the official document and agree not to pursue the case further. When the other party consents and signs, the process is resolved without taking the matter to court.

If, however, the settlement is not satisfactory, you may reject it and start another form of dispute resolution: mediation or arbitration.

Mediation/Arbitration

If you and the other party have not reached a mutually satisfactory conclusion, your lawyer may suggest starting the arbitration process.

Arbitration is a legal form of dispute resolution that may help you avoid the cost of litigation, the frustration of court delays, and the potentially negative psychological impact of appearing in court.

Arbitration involves appointing a neutral third party to make a decision on the matter. To begin the arbitration process, both parties must agree to go ahead with it, agree with the choice of arbitrator, and agree to abide by their decision.

Arbitration is more efficient and cost-effective than litigation, and the arbitrator may have niche knowledge about the situation under dispute. Arbitrators are also typically more flexible than judges when it comes to making a decision.

If you decide to start the arbitration process, your lawyer will send a letter of demand to the other party with details about the situation and how it should be resolved. If the other party agrees to start the arbitration process, it will go ahead.

The other way a personal injury case may be resolved is by filing a lawsuit.

Filing a Lawsuit

The third option you may pursue to resolve your personal injury case is to file a civil complaint or lawsuit.

If you file a civil complaint, you will be considered the plaintiff, and the other party will become the defendant. As the plaintiff, you are alleging that you came to harm through the other party’s negligence. To win your case, you’ll need to prove that the other party’s actions meet the legal definition of negligence.

Let’s say, for instance, you were driving to work on your bike and another driver drove into you, resulting in you becoming paralyzed after the crash. In this case, you would need to prove “duty” – that the other party was legally required to drive with a reasonable amount of care.

Then, you will also need to prove that the other party “breached” – the driver did not act like another reasonable person would in the same situation.

You will also need to prove “causation,” which means that the other party caused you harm and that they should have known that their careless driving could cause others injury.

Finally, you will need to prove “damages” – which will detail how the other party’s actions harmed you.

If you successfully prove all of the above, the case will become a matter of receiving compensation from the other party for the harm you have suffered.

A Few Other Things You Need to Know

After another party has harmed you, you only have a limited period of time to file a complaint. This is called the statute of limitation. Statutes of limitation are decided by state law and may differ depending on what kind of injury you suffered.

That’s why it’s so important to take action as soon as possible – ideally right after you discover the injury. But it’s not just the statute of limitations that compels plaintiffs to pursue legal action as early as possible – the evidence needed to win the case will become more difficult to collect after the fact, and the witnesses’ memories may become less clear.

Personal injury law is complex and highly specialized – there is no “one-size-fits-all” approach. Civil case law is not standardized, so there are no codes to refer to that will indicate whether your case will stand.

You should approach a personal injury lawyer to determine whether you have a reasonable case and get advice on how to proceed.

When choosing a personal injury lawyer, find one who has handled a good number of personal injury cases in your state and select someone with a proven track record of success.

What do you think?

Written by Taryn Barnes

Taryn Barnes is a freelance writer and blogger obsessed with HR, Millennial culture, work life balance, and all things tech.

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