What is Personal Injury Law?

Jessica Ellis
Jessica Ellis

Personal injury law refers to the legal structure that handles cases in which a person has been physically or psychologically injured through the actions or negligence of another person or entity. These cases usually fall under civil, rather than criminal, jurisdiction. Personal injury law statutes can be very comprehensive but may vary regionally.

Personal injury law may pertain to medical malpractice cases.
Personal injury law may pertain to medical malpractice cases.

Most of the time, personal injury law handles injuries that have been brought about through negligence, either by an individual or organization. These cases tend to assert that the injury would not have occurred if the responsible person had been duly diligent. The exception to this type of lawsuit is defamation, which is often handled as a personal injury law case even though many defamatory statements are issued intentionally.

A lawsuit may allege that a negligent driver is liable for the injuries of another.
A lawsuit may allege that a negligent driver is liable for the injuries of another.

Automobile injury accidents are usually handled through personal injury law. In some regions, accidents are considered “no fault” situations and require each involved person to pay his or her own medical fees. In “fault” regions, however, if a person can be found responsible for causing an accident, he or she may be responsible for the medical fees and even psychological treatment of any involved victims. Auto injury accidents can include car collisions, collisions with other vehicles such as bikes or motorcycles, and accidents that involve vehicles and pedestrians. In personal injury law, usually only the medical and psychological costs are at stake; damage to other vehicles is handled via property law.

Medical malpractice is a major area of personal injury law. Patients who believe they were misdiagnosed, poorly treated, or injured as a result of bad technique or negligence may sometimes sue doctors for malpractice under personal injury law statutes. In order to prove malpractice, the prosecutor must show that the doctor acted inappropriately, that the patient wouldn't have been injured without the wrongful actions of the physician, and that there are clear damages, such as reconstructive surgery or additional treatment, that can be awarded.

Slip and fall accidents may fall under the jurisdiction of personal injury law. These occur when a person trips or suffers an injury on another person's property. To prove fault, the prosecution in this case must show that the accident was caused by the negligence of the owner to provide safe lighting, proper staircases, or other safety measures that would have prevented the accident from occurring.

Defamation is the destruction or damage to reputation caused by the issuance of false statements. This is a tricky area of law, as it may be difficult to prove that tangible damage has been done through defamation. Statutes on these cases vary widely in different regions and may be quite difficult to prove successfully.

Accidents involving cyclists may involve a personal injury lawyer.
Accidents involving cyclists may involve a personal injury lawyer.
Jessica Ellis
Jessica Ellis

With a B.A. in theater from UCLA and a graduate degree in screenwriting from the American Film Institute, Jessica is passionate about drama and film. She has many other interests, and enjoys learning and writing about a wide range of topics in her role as a wiseGEEK writer.

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