What is a Personal Injury Defendant?

Felicia Dye
Felicia Dye
People consulting with a personal injury lawyer after a car accident.
People consulting with a personal injury lawyer after a car accident.

A personal injury defendant is a party who is sued for causing harm to another. This can be a person, a business, or a government. The party who lays the accusation is called the plaintiff. If the resulting lawsuit is not settled, the personal injury defendant and the plaintiff will argue their cases in a civil court. If the accused is indeed found to be at fault, instead of criminal punishment, there is often potential for the plaintiff to be awarded a substantial amount of money.

When a person feels that she has been harmed by another, she may file a personal injury lawsuit. The party against whom she files the lawsuit is the personal injury defendant, because his role in the case is to defend himself against her claims. This accused party will usually have the option to countersue, however. Then, the plaintiff bears the burden of proof to show that her claims are justified. If there is a countersuit, the defendant will bear the burden of proving his accusations.

Such lawsuits are often used for cases that involve automobile accidents and professional negligence. Personal injury cases are argued in civil courts. This means that if the personal injury defendant loses, he will not face criminal penalties such as incarceration. There are consequences, however, which will depend on the type of harm that was caused and the capacity in which the defendant was acting when he caused it. For example, if the harm was caused to a patient by a doctor with a record of negligence, in addition to the damages, he may be prohibited from practicing.

It should be noted that there can be multiple defendants in a single lawsuit. When a doctor is sued, the hospital where he practices can also be sued. In such cases, when the defendants lose, the responsibility for the damages are usually divided in one of two ways. Either the personal injury defendants share the burden in equal parts or their guilt is calculated as a percentage and they are charged accordingly.

It may not be required, but it is common for both parties to be represented by attorneys. The presence of legal representation helps to facilitate the tendency for claims against a personal injury defendant to be settled out of court. In many instances, if a personal injury defendant is forced to pay damages, he will not pay from his own resources. Instead, the ordered amount will be covered by an insurance company. When a defendant does not have the necessary insurance and large sums are awarded, there is a substantial risk that the plaintiff will not receive payment in full.

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    • People consulting with a personal injury lawyer after a car accident.
      By: Lisa F. Young
      People consulting with a personal injury lawyer after a car accident.