Mistakes and injuries happen all the time - but that doesn't mean that everyone knows how to handle them. Confusion and distress abound when you or your loved one has been injured or has been in an accident. If it does happen to you and you are looking to pursue justice, chances are, you have a lot of questions. This basic guide can help you out.
Personal Injury Cases
Many people don't actually know what a personal injury case is. It isn't just when someone gets injured; rather, it is when someone has been harmed (i.e. from an accident) due to someone else. The person who caused the harm is therefore legally responsible, and that means that they can be taken to court for it.
With personal injury law, the original complaint usually comes from a private individual who has been affected. This person is called the plaintiff, and they will formally file a civil complaint against the individual (or business or corporation or whoever else might be to blame). This complaint will generally explain why they hold that person or company, called the defendant, responsible for the accident, and how their actions (or lack of actions) led to the injury. When the plaintiff is filing the complaint, they are filing a lawsuit.
While less exciting and dramatic, the majority of personal injury situations are actually settled before anyone involved even steps foot into the courtroom. This is done informally, and it generally involves the two parties to the dispute, as well as their insurers and attorneys for each side. Often the meeting turns into a negotiation for an agreed price. Once this is approved, both parties agree not to take any more steps toward legal action - such as filing a lawsuit and going to court. Occasionally informal settlements are taken in a different way, such as the "middle ground" method of resolving a dispute.
Statute of Limitations
The statute of limitations is that pesky rule that requires plaintiffs to file within a certain amount of time, or else they no longer are allowed to file a lawsuit. The tricky thing about statutes of limitations is that they are different in every state and every injury. Texas, for example, requires a complaint to be filed within two years of the injury, and five years for sexual crimes. It only allows one year if the problem is libel or slander. These time limits are by no means a rule of thumb for the rest of the country, as they can vary hugely state by state.
Personal Injury Case Laws
Personal injury laws have come about via the court system, not via statutes like many other legal areas. Researching past court decisions is the best way to see exactly what the law is in a particular area.
If you have been injured and you think you might have a case, it's always a good idea to do your homework first. Check out the processes, law, and facts for filing a lawsuit. If this injury has had a negative impact on your life, you are more likely to have a case than if the injury is no longer any problem at all.