What is Personal Injury Law? How to Find a Personal Injury Lawyer

Personal Injury Accident Law

What is Personal Injury Law?

Personal injury law is a subset of tort law that deals with injuries to a particular person or group of persons. It defines what types of actions are actionable and what is needed to prove the claim. For example, if you are hit by a car, tort law determines what claims can arise from that accident, where you file, and how much you can recover if successful. The mere fact that an injury happened does not necessarily mean that someone is at fault. However, for those times when someone is at fault, personal injury law provides the necessary procedures and damages.

Governing Law

Personal injury law is set state-by-state. However, major trends in personal injury law, like in tort law, tend to affect a majority of jurisdictions the same way. For example, reforms limiting the amount of punitive damages, damages intended to punish particularly egregious behavior, has been addressed the same way in a majority of states. However, each state still has ultimate say over the direction of its personal injury law. Personal injury law is typically a combination of case law and code based law. In terms of suing government or civil organizations, administrative law intersects with personal injury. Qualified immunity limits cases against public officials. The controlling law is generally the state in which the harm occurred, although the suit may also be raised in the defendant’s state of residency if that differs.

Reasons to Hire an Attorney

Personal injury law firms tend to specialize in personal injury cases, so they tend to have more experience with personal injury law and the process of deciding a claim. For big injuries caused by entities with deep pockets, you will need an attorney to help combat the defense attorneys that large entities tend to keep on staff. For example, if a person hits you with a car and you suffer a broken leg and nerve damage, the insurance company will likely take over the case because their dollars are on the line. Insurance companies tend to keep lawyers on staff, although that trend is declining because of salary cutbacks. You may also need a personal injury attorney to represent you in both a civil and criminal matter. Driving offenses, for instance, often have crossovers between the two.

Things to Look for in a Personal Injury Attorney

Even though personal injury lawyers are the most visible lawyers in America, finding a good one is hard. Because of the high stakes that can be at play in a personal injury attorney, having an aggressive personal injury attorney can be a good thing. However, your personal injury attorney also should have some negotiation experience, or at least be willing to negotiate and settle out of court. Being able to weigh the cost and possible recovery of your claim is also a mark of a good personal injury law firm. Some attorneys will represent you on a contingency fee basis, meaning that they only collect a fee if you win. Make sure though that you discuss what costs and fees will be included even if you lose. Bear in mind though that the majority of personal injury law firms are unable to provide good estimates on whether you will succeed, not because they do not want to but because it is difficult to determine. These cases are often settled out of court, but when they do go to court, they are frequently settled in front of a jury.

Depending on the harm caused, there may be both civil and criminal actions to pursue. If you must choose between specializations, it is better to have a skilled criminal defense lawyer than a skilled personal injury lawyer as the criminal charges will likely be far more severe.

Personal Injury/Accident Blogs

  • Exposure to Benzene in Gasoline in Louisiana

    EXPOSURE TO BENZENE IN GASOLINE IN LOUISIANA By Glenn C. McGovern, AttorneyMetairie, La.Email:gcmcg@mac.com The other day I opened the gas tank of my motorcycle to refuel it. The gas tank has a race style large opening. The gas pump handle did not ...

  • 10 Things You Need to Know about Motorcycle Helmets by Glenn McGovern, atty. MSF motorcycle instruct

    TEN THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUTHELMETS IN HANDLING MOTORCYCLE CASES By Glenn C. McGovern, AttorneyMetairie, La.gcmcg@mac.com Motorcyclists are vulnerable to head injuries. A helmet cannot guarantee protection in all crash scenarios. Often in moto...

  • Personal Injury/Accident Basics

    Generally, personal injury/accident cases involve a scenario where someone is injured and wants to determine who is responsible for those injuries. The overarching principle behind personal injury/accident cases is that if a person acts negligently, ...