Basics of Personal Injury Law

Millions of American people are walking, driving, traveling, shopping, and working, and these accidents and injuries become part of life. There are accidents and injuries that can be avoided and those that cannot. There are accidents and injuries that are caused by others and those that are caused by our actions. The good news is that one can protect his/her legal rights after an accident and injury.

What is “Personal Injury” Case?

Personal injury” refers to legal disputes that come up when individual experience harm as a result of accident and somebody else is legally liable for that harm. The personal injury case can be formalized through the court proceedings to determine that the others are legally at fault through the court judgment. These disputes can also be resolved through informal settlement before any lawsuit is filed.

Formal “lawsuit” are basically initiated by the government and begins when a private person called the plaintiff files a civil “complaint” against the other person, company, business, or government agency as the defendant, claiming that they acted recklessly that resulted to an accident or injury. This step is called “filing a lawsuit.”

On the other hand settlement occur when most of the disputes of who is at fault for the accident or injury are resolved through an informal early settlement, particularly among those personally involved in the dispute, their insurers, and the lawyers representing the two sides. Usually, settlement is in the form of negotiation and followed by written agreement where both parties let go of any further legal action like lawsuit, but instead to resolve the dispute through payment of agreeable amount of money. Take note that the “middle ground” between the lawsuit and the informal settlement is an alternative process of dispute resolution such as mediation and arbitration.

Where are the Personal Injury Lawsuits Filed?

Personal injury lawsuits are basically under the authority or jurisdiction of the state courts in US where the injury took place, or where the involved parties in the accident are located. So, when the resident of Los Angeles is involved in a car accident in Los Angeles, he/she files the personal injury lawsuit in the Superior Court of California, County of Los Angeles. The injury cases where there are low amount of damages are being sought, normally ranging from $2,000 to $5,000, should file in the court’s “small claims” division.

As there is always an exemption to the rules, when the parties in personal injury case live in different places and the case entails an amount for more than $75,000 is exempted from the standard procedure. In this particular case, it may be filed under the federal jurisdiction in the federal trial courts known as US District Courts, or it may be transferred there if it is initially filed in a state court. The issues of jurisdiction can be complicated for those who are not familiar with the legal proceedings, but with an experienced lawyer, the case with all its issues, including where to file the case, can be handled and resolved well.

What is a Statute of Limitations?

Plaintiffs are under pressure in terms of limited time in filing a lawsuit which is called “statute of limitations.” Basically, the time limit is prescribed by the statute of limitations and it starts the time when the plaintiff is injured or finds about the injury. For instance, a plumber builds a new water heater in the home of a customer. If it was installed improperly, the water would leak gradually and later could cause the growth of molds underneath the carpet. The customer begins to smell the molds after few months and would not have found out about the source of the leak until it was six months after the plumbing services were done. Thus, the statute of limitation starts when the plaintiff finds out about the water damage was caused the negligence of the plumbing services.

The statutes of limitation are set by the state law and usually differ by the type of injury. For example, the statute of limitations for injuries to a person who is in Texas is two years while five years for the sex crimes, and one year for libel or slander.

Where are the laws that govern personal injury case?

The other areas of the law that lies on the rules in statutes like penal codes in criminal cases, while the development of the personal injury law usually takes place through the court decisions, and in treaties written by the legal scholars. Most of the states took efforts to recapitulate the progress of the personal injury law in written statutes, however, for the practical purposes, the court decisions continue to be the some forms of injury cases, particularly those that resulted from car accidents where the vehicle code section was compromised, the statutes can be applied to helping in finding who is at fault for the accident or injury.

To have better understanding how these pre-existing case laws or “legal precedents” can be applied to strengthen an injury case you are involved with, hiring an experienced lawyer is the best option to protect your legal rights. During the settlement negotiations with the insurers or opposing counsel, and in any legal proceedings with the court, your lawyer will cite prior cases where the courts in your state had decided on issues such as damages or fault, in a professional manner which will favor your position. For instance, you were injured in a “slip and fall” on an uneven sidewalk outside your apartment. Your attorney will mention a case where your state’s Supreme Court held the owners of the residential buildings to have a legal responsibility to make sure that the premises around the building are properly maintain for the safety of the renters.

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