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The Basics of Personal Injury Lawsuits

The Basics of Personal Injury Lawsuits

The Basics of Personal Injury Lawsuits 150 150 admin

Under what circumstances, and how, do personal injury cases proceed?

Personal Injury cases are legal disputes arising from a circumstance in which one person suffers harm from an accident or injury and believes that someone else or some other entity (such as a corporation) is legally responsible for the resulting physical and emotional harm.

The vast majority of personal injury cases are settled out of court, either before a lawsuit is filed, once one has been filed, or even after the case goes to the judge or jury.

The Stages of a Personal Injury Case

The stages of a personal injury case may include some, or all, of the following: 

  • Attorney consultation to discuss details of case and to see if you two are a good fit
  • Filing initial court papers
  • Fact-finding and discovery, including getting information from the opposing team regarding physical evidence, witnesses, and medical data
  • Resolution before trial — frequently there are Motions to Dismiss before trial
  • Settlement — in most cases lawyers on both sides negotiate a settlement, sometimes a structured settlement
  • Trial — if the case is not settled, it goes to trial
  • Collecting money after judgment
  • Appealing a decision or judgment

There may be a limited time frame after the injury occurs during which a personal claim may be filed. This time period, known as a statute of limitations may vary from one state to another.

The Burden of Proof 

A personal injury case is normally a matter for civil court, unless the personal injury results from a deliberate assault. The defendant is not required to prove that the plaintiff’s version of the facts is untrue, nor must the defendant offer an alternative version of the event. It is only necessary that the defendant convince the jury that there is a 50 percent chance that the plaintiff’s version is inaccurate for the defendant to win.

In a battery claim, both injury and intent must be proven. If someone brushes by you and you trip, your injury may be accidental or your own fault for having poor balance. If someone intentionally punches you and breaks your nose, however, both injury and intent to injure are present and you, the plaintiff, will probably win your case.

Assumption of Risk

 

 

There is another element to personal injury cases — assumption of risk. This element most often arises in cases of sports injuries when the jury may believe that the plaintiff understood “more likely than not” that some risk was involved in the sport he or she voluntarily engaged in.

Obviously, not all cases of personal injury are clear-cut and not all opponents or witnesses are honest. This is why it is important to have a knowledgeable personal injury attorney at your side.