Personal injury is a broad term for an accident to the body, emotions or mind, rather than an actual physical injury to property. In many Anglo-Saxon jurisdictions the word is most often used to describe a sort of civil tort suit in which the plaintiff has personally suffered injury to his/her body or psyche. However in the United States, the term has a broader meaning. It now refers to damage or loss of a person’s reputation, opinion or mental well being. In most US states personal injury law protects consumers from the acts of other people.
Many personal injury law claims center around common law negligence or ordinary torts such as slander, libel and malicious prosecution. In cases such as this the plaintiff must prove both negligence on the part of the defendant and damages. Common law torts are not absolute but have many exceptions. Some of these are slander, false arrest or restraint, invasion of privacy, false imprisonment, birthright, marital rape, negligence perjuries and many others. The list is quite lengthy and could go on forever.
Negligence or the inability to reasonably prevent further injury is not a legal requirement for a civil lawsuit to be successful. Civil lawsuits must be filed within a given time period after the incident for personal injury law to apply. This is known as a statute of limitations. For example, a car wreck in California may be a case of personal injury law. However, it may also be a case of negligence if the injured person had car insurance.
Another basis for a civil lawsuit would be medical treatment or property damage. A pedestrian struck by a car will likely seek damages for personal injury or property damage. Likewise, a motorcycle rider who was hit by a vehicle will likely file a personal injury lawsuit. Again, the statute of limitations for medical treatment is different than that for property damage.
A third basis for filing a lawsuit is employment discrimination. If an employer refused to hire a certain qualified candidate, the applicant may file a complaint. A person who was injured at work can also sue for benefits under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) for wages lost as a result of the injury. Many employers will settle out of court for less money than is fair and in some cases the injured person may have a case.
Sometimes a personal injury case is settled out of court. This occurs when an agreement was reached before the lawsuit was filed that was not too expensive for both sides. The amount paid can be 10% of future expected future income or the cost of treating the person for injuries. Many times an accident occurs and it is obvious that no amount of money can make up for the trauma experienced. An informal settlement might be the best option.