PERSONAL INJURY LAW
What is Personal Injury Law?
Personal injury law is a civil law practice which seeks to provide legal remedies for individuals injured by the wrongful conduct of others. Whenever an individual intentionally or accidently harms another, their action is referred to as a tort. Tort law, in contrast with criminal law, does not involve prosecution of the wrongdoer. Instead, you as the injured person - known as the plaintiff - seek legal remedy (typically in the form of money) from the wrongdoer - known as the defendant. Personally injury law is just one segment of the broader law of torts.
There are two elements which define the scope of a tort: liabilities and damages. The defendant must be liable for the damages you sustained. The nature and extent of those damages will be examined in determining a resolution. The most common personal injury cases center on the doctrine of negligence.
The doctrine of negligence dictates that all individuals owe a duty of care towards each other. This duty of care is structured as being any action which reasonable or prudent persons would do under a given circumstance. Negligence occurs when an individual fails to exercise care and another is injured as a result of their act. Negligence is distinguished from intentional torts and crimes because negligent acts are accidental - although negligence can be a factor in other areas of law.
So what is a typical personal injury case?
Motor Vehicle Accidents
A significant portion of personal injury cases arise from automobile accidents. They are a clear example of tort law in action. Drivers on the road owe a duty of care to all other users of the road, including other drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians. An example of a breach of that duty of care would be a driver exceeding posting speed limits, running a red light, tailgating, or conducting any other act deemed unsafe. When a driver breach’s their duty of care and an injury results, personal injury by negligence has occurred. Under personal injury law, you as the injured person have a right to legal remedy for those injuries.
Car accidents aren’t the only personal injury cases to come forward. Negligence is a far reaching area of law which encompasses any injury resulting in a breach of one’s duty of care - including medical malpractice. Additionally, negligence is not the only area of law which gives personal injury claims legal standing.
Other typical personal injury cases:
• Premises Liability
• Dog Bites
• Slip and Fall
• Medical Malpractice
• Product Liability
• Wrongful death
• Catastrophic Accidents, etc.
Strict liability and Intentional Wrongs
Strict liability is an area of tort law involving designers and manufacturers. Strict liability holds the responsible parties liable for injuries resulting from defective products. In these cases, the responsible party can be held liable, even if they have no direct cause of fault or negligence with the injury. Designers and manufacturers can be held liable for an injury through the principle of proximate case. Proximate cause occurs when an act, such as a manufacturer defect or design flaw in a vehicle’s brakes, results in an event causing the injury. You as the injured person must show in court that the design or defect resulted in an unreasonably safe product in order to win legal remedy from the designer or manufacturer.
Intentional wrongs are another area of tort law - although they are less common than the others. Examples of intentional wrongs are assault and battery cases, trespass, false imprisonment, and any other intentional act which results in physical, mental, or emotional injury. While most intentional wrongs are also prosecuted under criminal law - the legal remedy for injuries is not part of the criminal prosecution. Torts must be processed through civil courts by injured parties separate from the criminal process.
You’ve been injured - where to start?
If you have been injured as a result of another’s negligent act or intentional wrong, there are many options available for you. Before filing a lawsuit against another party, there are some things you should consider. First - do you have a good case? Second - would you be satisfied if your case ended in settlement or mediation? Third - will you be able to collect a judgment from the responsible party?
A good case: As discussed, all of the elements resulting in a breach of care must be present in order to have a case against a responsible party. Your lawyer will be able to assist you in determining if there is a case present, but these basic elements should exist:
• Duty: Did the defendant owe a duty of care to you, the plaintiff?
• Breach of Duty: Once the duty is defined, did the defendant breach that duty of care?
• Cause in Fact: The “but-for” test. But for the defendant’s actions, would you, the plaintiff, not have been injured?
• Direct Cause & Proximate Cause: In the cause of the defendant, which injuries were the direct results of the defendant’s actions? Which injuries are reasonably within proximity of those actions? Are any of the injuries the result of strict liability?
• Damages: You must be able to prove damages. Proof of damages would include medical bills, evidence of manufacture defects/f flaws, and any damages from resulting pain and suffering.
• Settlement and Mediation: You need to consider the fact that many cases are settled before reaching court than are litigated within. Often, the courts will require that opposing parties attempt a settlement through arbitration or mediation. For example, some medical practices will include a contract clause requiring an injured party go through arbitration before the courts.
• Collection: Does the defendant have the means to pay a monetary judgment? Courts are not responsible for helping a plaintiff collect once a judgment has been issued against a defendant. It does you no good to collect court fees only to find, after winning, that there is no money to collect from the defendant.
So what about those lawyer and court fees?
Even when the elements for a strong case are in place, many clients will hesitate or avoid going to court because of concerns about affording a lawyer. The expenses involved in initiation legal action can be prohibitively high. If you carry these concerns, then you should know that there are solutions. Our services for personal injury are offered on a contingency basis. This means that you pay no legal fees unless and until your case is settled and a favorable judgment or award is received.
So if you have a personal injury case, don’t hesitate any longer.
Contact the Law Offices of E. Patience Adeyanju at 925-759-6071 to speak to a knowledgeable attorney now!
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