Personal injury law is a broad and vital area of the law. While personal injury law is based on one party’s breach of duty and the other party’s resulting injuries, no two personal injury cases are ever exactly alike, and they tend to be quite complicated. In the end, personal injury cases help those who suffer damages as a result of someone else’s negligence to recover on their losses and to improve their ability to regain their health and well-being.
The Defendant and the Plaintiff
The defendant is the person or entity who is charged (in the civil personal injury case) with causing (via negligence) the damages suffered by the person who files the claim or case (the plaintiff). In other words, the defendant is the party who is deemed negligent in the personal injury case. The most common kinds of personal injury cases include the following:
Traffic accidents (in which the negligent motorist is the defendant)
Slip and fall accidents (in which the negligent property owner or manager is the defendant)
Product liability claims (in which the negligent manufacturer is the defendant)
Is It a Personal Injury Claim or a Case?
The distinction between whether your situation is a claim or a case can be confusing, but it need not be. The vast majority of personal injury claims (claims filed with the at-fault party’s insurance company) are settled out of court, which means they are not legal cases. However, because every personal injury claim is unique, yours will take its own unique course.
Even if your claim is almost certain to settle, your experienced personal injury attorney may advise you to file a case with the court to help ensure that your claim does not outlive the statute of limitations (generally, two years from the date of the accident involved) and that you do not lose your ability to file a personal injury case against the at-fault party whose negligence left you injured. Once you file with the court, you have a personal injury case – but this fact will not stop you from settling your personal injury claim with the insurance company involved (if you are able to do so).
Settling Your Claim
The goal is typically to settle with the insurance company for an amount that adequately covers the full range of losses you’ve incurred, which the law refers to as damages. Such damages tend to include:
Medical expenses for the physical injuries you’ve sustained
Lost earnings associated with time off the job
The physical and emotional pain and suffering associated with being injured in an accident that was caused by someone else’s negligence