Understanding the basics of a personal injury case

August 27, 2016

If you are involved in a personal injury case, there’s a good chance one or more personal injury lawyers are also going to be involved.  While those lawyers live in the world of personal injury law every day, chances are, much of what goes on in a personal injury case may be foreign to you.  To educate yourself and to best protect your interests, you need to at least have a basic grasp of some of the terminology you might encounter.

Torts/Intentional Torts – A tort is a wrongful act that is not a crime and that does not arise from a contract.  Torts are common in civil suits and include actions such as negligence, libel, slander, trespassing and other related actions.  Intentional torts are wrongful actions that are committed on purpose.  Torts are important because they are what form the grounds for a civil lawsuit and allow a party to seek damages.  On the other hand, criminal cases do not allow plaintiffs to collect damages.

Burden of Proof – This refers to the plaintiff’s obligation to prove what they are asserting to be true.  In a personal injury case, the plaintiff must prove by a preponderance of evidence that the defendant is liable for their actions.

Strict Liability – This legal theory says that liability for certain acts exists regardless of if there is fault or wrongdoing.  This is many times applied to defective products.  If a manufacturer creates a product and someone is injured while using that product, the manufacturer may be held liable.  Strict liability shifts the burden of proof to a defendant who has to prove they are not liable, as opposed to other negligence cases.

No-fault Laws – In some states, if you are injured in an auto accident, then you will collect damages from your own insurance company under no-fault laws.  In other words, everyone is responsible for themselves, unless certain injury or damage thresholds are met.
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