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Personal injury cases arise because someone did something or failed to do something that caused another person to get hurt. Though car accidents are the most common type of personal injury case, any type of injury-causing negligence may create a personal injury case. These may also include motorcycle accidents, slip and fall at a store or someone’s house, dog bite, dram shop (restaurant/bar owner liability for serving alcohol to intoxicated individuals), wrongful death, or some other negligence case. Negligence means that one person did not necessarily intend for the other to get hurt, but because of the party’s actions, someone did.
Legally, personal injury cases are known as torts and refer to a harm against another person or thing that does not necessarily involve a violation of law (which is known as a crime). In addition to negligence cases, there are intentional torts, as well, which means that the person at fault intended to harm the other or acted with reckless disregard for the other’s safety.
Multiple Parties at Fault
In some cases more than one individual may be at fault or liable for the injuries caused. For example, in a car accident with a driver who is intoxicated, the person or restaurant/bar serving the individual liquor may have some responsibility and the person driving the car would also likely have some responsibility. Sometimes there are cases when the person at fault and the injured person both contributed to causing the injuries. In such case, the court must consider each person’s percentage of responsibility. Please call to discuss the particulars of your situation.
Cases Involving Minors
Special considerations arise if a minor is involved such as who can bring the lawsuit and who has authority to enter into any settlements. A speciﬁc court process, known as a conservatorship is required to handle the funds paid for the beneﬁt of the minor in order to protect the funds for the minor’s use.
If a minor caused the injury, there may be situations where the minor’s parent(s) or legal guardians could also have some responsibility. Processing cases in which a minor is a party may be complicated. Please call to discuss your speciﬁc situation.
If the person at fault was acting in the scope and course of their employment at the time, then the employer may have some liability, known as respondeat superior. If the person was employed by a government entity, then the injured party must take very speciﬁc action, including ﬁling a notice of claim and serving the government entity. Very speciﬁc notices are required to preserve the injured person’s legal claim against the government entity.
Statute of Limitations
All personal injury cases have a speciﬁc statute of limitations, which is a deadline, created by the state legislature, limiting how long after an injury someone may make a claim. If a lawsuit is not ﬁled by that deadline, then the party at fault cannot be held ﬁnancially responsible and the injured person forfeits the potential right to compensation. While most cases are resolved without a trial,ﬁling the lawsuit before the statute of limitations expires is essential.
Resolution of a Case
The vast majority of personal injury cases are resolved through a negotiated settlement. Though many personal injury claims are resolved without ﬁling a lawsuit (subject to the statute of limitations ﬁling requirement), it may still be necessary to ﬁle a lawsuit, to protect a client’s interest or claim (as, for example, when the party at fault refuses to negotiate or denies liability). If a lawsuit is ﬁled, the injured party is referred to as the plaintiff and the other party the defendant. Depending on the amount of damages or money sought, the case may be subject to mandatory arbitration. The arbitrators are attorneys appointed by the court to hear the evidence and issue a ruling. Either party may appeal that ruling to the trial court, meaning that the case then proceeds through the trial level.
If arbitration does not successfully resolve the case, the parties may mediate with a neutral third party to try to reach an agreement. Mediation is not typically mandatory in most personal injury cases, but can be very helpful to resolving the case. The parties will jointly hire a mediator to try to reach a negotiated resolution. If the parties are unable to reach an agreement, they are entitled to have a trial on the case. Trials may be with a jury or by the judge alone (called a bench trial). Either the plaintiff or the defendant may require that a jury decide the case.
Personal injury cases seek ﬁnancial compensation for the injured party’s medical bills, lost wages, personal property damage and pain and suffering. Personal injury cases can never reverse the injury or make it so it did not happen. Such cases will also never end with one person going to jail simply because of the personal injury. The only thing a personal injury case can do is to provide the injured person with money. Because of this, it is very important to document your injuries, medical bills and wage loss.
At Eden Law Ofﬁce, P.L.L.C., your personal injury case will never be handled or monitored by a less experienced attorney or paralegal. Each case will receive personal attorney attention it deserves from beginning to end.
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