Legal|Personal Injury

Personal Injury Law: Learning the basics

If you are injured in an accident, and the accident was not your fault, you may be able to file a personal injury lawsuit. Personal injury law, also known as tort law, is the branch of law that helps injured parties seek compensation for their injuries and damages. The overall goal of these claims are to help the injured party recover financially after suffering harm that resulted from negligent or reckless behavior.

Common Types Of Personal Injury Cases


If someone acts with negligence, and subsequently causes injury to another party, like in car crashes, slip and fall accidents, or even cases of medical malpractice, then personal injury laws may apply.

Defective Products

If someone suffers an injury from a defective medical device, consumer product, prescribed drug, vehicle part or component, they may be able to file a lawsuit against the product creator, designer, manufacturer, or distributor.


Personal injury laws may apply if someone causes injury and damages by making defamatory statements about another party.

Intentional Acts

If someone intentionally harms or causes harm to come to another person, they may face a personal injury lawsuit. This even includes violent crimes like assault.

How Do Personal Injury Cases Progress?

While no two cases are going to be identical, they will often have many commonalities. There are standard steps and processes that personal injury cases generally follow, and they will often include:

  • Plaintiff is injured by defendant: This can consist of nearly any act or inaction on behalf of the defendant that causes injury to come to the plaintiff.
  • Plaintiff identifies breach of duty: The duty of the defendant will often vary depending on the situation. Drivers have a duty to drive safely and follow the rules of the road. Medical professionals have a standard of care to adhere to. Management of a retail business has a duty to keep the premises clean and safe.
  • Settlement talks: This is where most cases end. If all parties agree that there was a breach of duty, the insurer of the defendant may make a settlement offer. This can often require negotiations. However, all parties are often able to reach an agreement where they are able to settle without proceeding to litigation. Settlements often include stipulations that the plaintiff cannot open further lawsuits for the same matter.

How Are Personal Injury Laws Created?

The majority of personal injury and tort laws have a history that goes back to common law. Common law is law that is created not by legislators but by judges. Frequently this happens by precedent, meaning that when a judge rules on a case, that ruling then becomes the basis for other courts to follow.

This is often seen in lower courts following the ruling of a higher court. This is not to say that common law is the only source of laws dealing with personal injury. Many legislators and states have passed laws dealing with personal injury and workers’ compensation.