Personal Injury FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions: Accidents, Injuries & Personal Injury Law

Due to its complexity and the many variables that may apply, the field of personal injury law can be difficult to understand. One of the ways we hope to make it clearer is by including answers to some of the basic questions about personal injury laws, accidents, injuries and your legal rights. In addition to reviewing the following frequently asked questions, you can use our directory to conduct a search for a local personal injury attorney who can address your specific questions and concerns.

What is a personal injury?

A personal injury may include virtually any type of physical or emotional injury sustained as a result of another's conduct. Whether intentional or unintentional, if another's act or failure to act caused your injuries, you may be entitled to financial compensation, which is sought by way of a personal injury lawsuit in civil court.

Is liability equivalent to guilt?

In civil court, a defendant who is held "liable" is akin to a guilty verdict, but the term "guilty" is typically used only in criminal court. Liable means that the defendant is legally responsible for the accident or injuries. The defendant must be found liable in order for you to collect damages. Determining liability is one of the most important parts of a personal injury claim.

What does "strictly liable" mean?

Strict liability means that if an accident occurs, the defendant is responsible, or liable, regardless of whether or not negligence, intentional conduct or recklessness was an issue. For example, strict liability applies in dog bite claims in some states, meaning that dog owners may be held responsible for injuries their dogs inflict on another person in spite of the dog owner's specific act, failure to act or negligence in the matter.

Legally speaking, what is a "reasonable person"?

A reasonable person may be described as a person who normally exercises due care in the circumstances. The specific definition may vary depending on the person, such as an adult versus a child or an unskilled person versus a doctor. This is an issue often related to personal injury claims involving negligence, as it may be necessary to prove that the defendant (the person/company the lawsuit is filed against) failed to act as a reasonable person would in the same or similar circumstances.

What is negligence?

Negligence is a breach of duty of care, meaning that an individual or business did not take the reasonable precautions concerning their actions, property, or products. Negligence may also be described as a failure to act as a reasonable person would in the same or similar circumstances. Any act or failure to act may constitute negligence if it results in another's injuries.

Who has a duty of care toward me?

Any individual or business whose actions can affect you has a duty of care toward you, and vice versa. A duty of care means that they must take reasonable steps to avoid accidents that can injure you or others. An example may be the driver of a motor vehicle. Drivers have an obligation to obey traffic laws and to operate their vehicles in such a manner as to reasonably provide for the safety of others. A violation of this duty may be considered negligence if the violation causes an accident that results in injury to another person.

Can more than one person be considered negligent and held liable in a personal injury claim?

Depending on the incident, it may be possible that more than one person can be considered negligent and therefore held accountable for your injuries. You may need to file multiple personal injury lawsuits to hold each party responsible.

What if I am partially responsible for my injuries?

A situation may arise where a victim is partially responsible for his or her injuries. This is referred to as contributory negligence. Depending on the laws of the state in which you were injured, the damages that you receive may be decreased in accordance with the degree of your responsibility or you may not be able to collect damages at all.

If I win my personal injury case, when can I expect to receive compensation?

The answer to this question may vary depending on the specific case. In general, you should be able to receive financial compensation in a lump sum shortly after a settlement or jury verdict is reached in your favor. If you are owed a particularly large amount of money, however, you may choose to receive compensation in monthly or annual installments.

When can I file a premises liability claim?

Property owners are responsible for ensuring that their property grounds are reasonably safe for lawful visitors, tenants and customers. If any unsafe conditions are caused or discovered, they must be identified as such with a clear warning sign until they can be repaired. Repairs should be completed in a timely manner, and the property owner may also be responsible for routinely inspecting property grounds for potential hazards. You may be able to file a premises liability claim if you trip and fall on an uneven step at a restaurant that was not lit properly or was not marked as hazardous. Generally speaking, business owners are often held to a higher standard of liability for property inspection and maintenance than home owners.

If you want to learn more, find a personal injury lawyerin your area using our directory.