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Personal Injury and Personal Injury Attorneys

By Charles Hopkins Published 10/29/2007 | Legal
Personal injury law is designed to protect and seek redress for those injured by the recklessness, negligence or inaction of others.  Personal injury law, or tort law as it is sometimes called, deals with personal injury claims and seeks to get compensation for the injured party for their damages and discourage others from committing the same acts.  Most tort law is dealt with on a state-wide level, but occasionally there can arise tort claims under federal jurisdiction (a tort is a wrong resulting in injury, which can be used as a basis for a lawsuit).

What Do Personal Injury Lawsuits Deal with?

Personal injury claims deal with a wide range of incidents such as car accidents, workplace accidents, exposure to toxic substances, injuries caused by defective products, malpractice, domestic battery or sexual abuse, wrongful death, and more.  If you have been injured by the actions or inactions of someone else (an individual or an entity such as a company), you may have the grounds to institute a personal injury lawsuit.  Note that tort law and criminal law are separate.  Tort law enables injured parties to get compensation, whereas criminal law is more concerned with punishment and deterrence.  A battered wife, for instance, can file a personal injury claim as well as press criminal charges against her husband.

In order to establish your claim of personal injury, you will have to address two things - that the party accused is really responsible for the injuries you suffered and that the damages you seek are commensurate with the injury or loss.  (In all personal injury lawsuits, the onus of proving this is always up to the plaintiff.)

The types of compensation you can ask for include those relating to pain and suffering, medical costs incurred, and lost earnings and lost income (present and future losses can be included).  In the event that the defendant is found to have acted intentionally or maliciously, punitive damages can also be levied against the individual or the company.

Bases for Personal Injury Claims

Personal injury claims are based on any of three bases:

1.    Intentional wrongdoing This tort means that the harmful action was carried out with the full knowledge of the harmful effects it would cause.  Examples of intentional torts include fraud, assault, battery, and character defamation.
2.    Negligence This tort is unintentional but brought about by the accused's failure to act or by their unsafe actions.  Examples that fall under this category are vehicular accidents, medical malpractice, and slip and fall accidents.
3.    Strict Liability Under this tort, the wrongdoer bears total legal responsibility.  Product liabilities fall under this category as do cases involving toxic substances and pharmaceutical companies and their drugs.

Personal Injury Attorneys

In order to have the maximum amount of success in a personal injury lawsuit, it is best to retain the services of an attorney who specializes in personal injury law and cases.  Preferably, you should pick someone who has a good track record in getting compensation for their clients, keeps up with changes in tort law, and someone who has a good number of tort cases tucked in their belt.

If you can find a personal injury attorney who will work on a contingency basis - meaning they will shoulder all expenses and take a percentage of the damages awarded as their fee - it could be a good thing depending on your circumstances.  You must seek the help of a personal injury attorney as quickly as possible, however, as personal injury claims usually fall under statutes of limitation that restrict the time period in which a person is allowed to file a lawsuit or claim.