The Basics of a Personal Injury Claim

Personal injury is legally defined as an injury to one’s emotions, mind or body. America’s legal system allows injured persons to pursue legal remedies for losses arising from accidents. The legal industry defines personal injury cases as tort claims, which have two primary issues: damages and liability. Damages are money awarded to victims to compensate them for their losses, and liability defines who is responsible for the injury.

Components of a Personal Injury Claim

A tort claim can be based on one of three theories: negligence, strict liability and intentional behavior.

  • Negligence is the most common reason for personal injury claims, and it establishes that the responsible party failed in their duty of care.
  • Intentional behavior-based personal injury cases are very rare, typically being found in instances where a person is wrongfully detained or when they are assaulted.
  • Strict liability is prevalent in cases where an injury is due to a design or manufacturing defect. To establish this type of liability, victims must prove that the product was manufactured or designed in a way that made it dangerous when used according to its function.

Damages in Personal Injury Claims

Damages are sums of money given as compensation for a victim’s losses or injuries. In most cases, damages are divided into two segments, special and general.

  • Special damages are given as financial compensation. They can include replacement of damaged property, lost earnings capacity, lost wages and medical bills. These damages are easy to determine because the loss has a dollar value.
  • General damages naturally arise from a defendant’s wrongful conduct. They can include disfigurement, pain and suffering, mental anguish, loss of companionship and diminished quality of life. These are hard to quantify as it is difficult to assign a dollar value to a person’s pain.

Negotiating a Personal Injury Settlement

After a victim files a personal injury suit, the other party’s insurance company typically gets involved. In some cases, the victim may file against their own insurer, or they can file a third-party claim against the other party’s insurer. Most insurers would rather settle out of court than go to trial. Local personal injury lawyers can help a client negotiate for a settlement that provides adequate compensation for one’s losses.

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