Personal injury lawsuits are a type of civil lawsuit. The plaintiff – the person who has been injured – brings a case against the defendant, who they claim is responsible for the injury. Additionally, if an accident results in the victim’s death, a representative of the victim can become the plaintiff on their behalf, representing the deceased’s estate. The plaintiff is typically seeking monetary compensation for their injuries.
A personal injury case can be for many kinds of injuries – such as an accident, social wrongs, or defamation.
Common Types of Accidents and Personal Injuries
There are four main categories of personal injury lawsuits:
- Accidents: The most common type of personal injury case is when an accident harms an individual. More specifically, a personal injury case applies when someone behaves in a negligent manner that leads to physically or emotionally harming another person or group of people. Some examples of accidents that qualify as personal injury cases are car accidents, medical malpractice, slip and falls in public areas, and dog bites.
- Intentional Acts: As the name implies, an intentional act personal injury case occurs when a person deliberately causes harm to an individual. The most common type of intentional act is assault and battery.
- Defective Products: Companies have a responsibility to keep their products safe for use under their intended purposes. If a person can prove that a product was defective or harmful under regular use, they may have enough for a personal injury case. One famous example was in 1998 when Dow Corning was sued by multiple consumers claiming that their brand of breast implants was causing people to become sick and sometimes rupture.
- Defamation: Personal injury law covers defamation as well. If a person’s statements cause harm to an individual’s reputation, business, or well-being, there’s potential for a defamation suit. Celebrities have sued many tabloids for defamation. For example, J.K. Rowling, Kate Winslet, and Kiera Knightley have all successfully won defamation lawsuits against The Daily Mail.
Formal vs. Informal Lawsuits
When an individual pursues a personal injury case, it can result in one of two ways: a formal lawsuit or an informal lawsuit.
A formal lawsuit means the case goes to a civil court, and a court ruling will determine if the defendant is legally responsible for the injuries.
An informal lawsuit is when the case is settled out of court, allowing the final decision to be settled between the parties involved. Settlements begin with negotiations, and when a final agreement is made, a written contract prohibits the same case from being taken to court as a formal lawsuit.
Only four percent of personal injury cases go to trial, while 67% opt for a settlement. Regardless of if you choose the formal or informal route, legal representation seems to be beneficial. According to one survey, 91% of respondents who received a settlement had legal representation. In comparison, only 51% of people who chose to represent themselves successfully received compensation.
Statutes of limitations for Personal Injury Cases
Personal injury cases have a statute of limitations on them. This means that a case needs to be brought forward within a specific time frame of the incident occurring. The exact statute of limitations depends on the type of personal injury case you’re claiming and local state regulations.
For example, in Nevada, you can’t file personal injury cases past two years of the accident. Some statute of limitations are as short as one year, so it’s essential to act quickly. You can research your local statute of limitations yourself online but remember that these rules are often changing. To be absolutely certain, it’s best to consult with a personal injury lawyer.
Getting Legal Help from a Personal Injury Lawyer
Legal representation isn’t mandatory for a personal injury case. If you plan to settle out of court and only expect a small amount in compensation, you may want to handle the case yourself. However, a lawyer is highly recommended if you are looking for a considerable payment, have a complicated case, or are considering going to court.
As previously mentioned above, using a lawyer increases the chances of receiving a settlement. Additionally, it also increases the amount of the compensation. Individuals who received a settlement without a lawyer averaged a $17,600 payout. In comparison, individuals who used a lawyer saw an average settlement of $77,600.
Speak With a Personal Injury Law Firm Today
Not sure if you want to use a lawyer for your personal injury case? The good news is we can offer a free, no-obligation consultation. During this consultation, one of our lawyers will provide their opinion if you have a strong case. Representing yourself is always an option, but one of our lawyers can help you get the compensation you deserve. Contact us today to book your consultation.