Personal injury law explained



Many individuals see a number of advertisements every day—TV commercials, billboards, internet ads, and others—for personal injury attorneys, promising their services to help injured individuals to receive compensation. In spite of the frequency of the commercials, it’s possible to have no real idea of what constitutes personal injury law, and why it is an important corner stone of the legal system. Understanding what personal injury law is, and how it works can help those who may need the services of a personal injury attorney make an informed decision. There are a large number of Boca Raton personal injury attorneys, compared to the rest of the state of Florida and indeed in comparison to many other states, which is what the information in this article will be based upon. In this article, I will explain the differences between civil and criminal law, briefly detail the basic tenets of tort law (the part of the law that personal injury falls specifically under), and what to look for in a personal injury lawyer or attorney. Armed with the knowledge in this article, you can go on to hire an excellent attorney for yourself, if the need should ever arise.

Civil Law vs. Criminal Law

Most people are at least somewhat familiar with criminal law, which is featured on procedural dramas like Law & Order, the CSI franchise, and other shows like Bones. Civil law, which is also referred to in some circles as common law, relates to civil wrongs and various forms of contracts. Ultimately, civil law is the area of laws and justice that affect individual legal status, where criminal law involves the state against individuals; criminal law deals with the interaction between the government’s statutes and the individual, where civil law generally deals with individuals interacting with other individuals. The objectives of civil law are different from other types of law. For example, in civil law, there is an implied attempt to make right a wrong, fulfill obligations that have been previously agreed upon, or settle a dispute. It’s important to note that an action in criminal law does not necessarily preclude an action in civil law—and in fact the two frequently go hand in hand. An example of that principle is the trial of O.J. Simpson; Simpson was found not guilty in a criminal trial, and the families of the victims also brought a civil trial against Simpson for wrongful death, for which he was found guilty. This was possible because the requirements of proof between the two courts are different. Criminal courts require proof beyond reasonable doubt, while civil cases require a preponderance of evidence. An experience personal injury lawyer would be able to advise about the requirements of evidence for south Florida courts and for civil courts in the state more generally.

Tort Law

Within civil law, the field that personal injury lawyers work within is that of tort law. A tort is a civil wrong, which unfairly causes a person to suffer loss or harm, resulting in legal liability for the person who commits the act. While sometimes crimes can be torts, more frequently the cause of legal action is negligence. The victim of harm can recover their loss as damages in a lawsuit or settlement. In order to prevail in a court, the plaintiff in a lawsuit must show that the actions—or lack thereof—were the legally recognizable cause of the harm. In tort law generally, physical injuries are not the only grounds for a lawsuit. Damages can include emotional, economic, or reputational injuries, as well as violations of rights. Copyright infringement and defamation of character are examples of tort case types that would not necessarily cause an individual physical injury.

Personal injury law, as practiced by a personal injury lawyer among other professionals in the field, focuses on tort cases that do cause physical injury, in addition to other types of damage. Auto accident claims that develop into lawsuits fall under the category of personal injury law, as do claims for situations such as medical malpractice and product liability. Perhaps one of the better known claim types under the umbrella is slip and fall claims, where an injured party is seeking compensation for having slipped, tripped, or otherwise accidentally injured themselves on another’s property due to foreseeable conditions that should have been remedied before the possibility of injury occurred. A loose carpet, or an unexpected slippery patch, or some other flaw or defect would have to cause the injury; in addition, the principle of negligence comes into play. In order to be successful, such a case must establish not only that property owner or manager should have known or did know about the defective or dangerous situation, but also that the situation should have been resolved to limit injury before the victim experienced his or her accident.

Personal Injury Attorneys

If you are looking for a personal injury lawyer, for example a Boca Raton personal injury lawyer if you live in the south Florida area, there are some things that you should know. One of the most important things to know about this subset of lawyers is that they generally work on a contingency basis; this means that if they win your case, they take their fees from the amount that was decided upon by the courts. They do not generally require up-front payment or what is called a “retainer” in order to perform their services. In some cases, although it is rare, they may charge hourly fees or flat fees, based on the complexity of the case. In the case of a contingency fee, it is a pre-agreed percentage of the amount recovered, with no obligation on the client’s part to pay unless the case is successfully resolved. The average contingency fee is about 30%, although this can vary depending on several variables.

Personal injury lawyers are regulated by codes of conduct established by state bar associations, which have the power to take disciplinary action against lawyers who violate professional or ethical standards. While many have called for so-called “tort reforms,” arguing that the costs of personal injury litigation have led to a substantial increase in health care costs, a study conducted in Texas found that tort reform, once enacted, had no impact on reducing the costs of medical care.

Some individuals have successfully pursued cases against insurance companies and other individuals and organizations without the services of a personal injury attorney; however, because of the complexities involved in personal injury law, it’s safest to seek the services of a professional when a case is complex or is otherwise going to take a long time to come to a resolution. Some insurance companies, for example, will count on the statute of limitations to protect them—by drawing out the negotiations process, they use the strategy of making it impossible for a victim to actually start a lawsuit, because the amount of time allowed under the state statutes has passed. In other cases, complexities may arise in the course of pursuing a claim, which can be more clearly understood in regards to the law by an experienced professional. A well-trained personal injury lawyer will have kept up to date not just on the constantly-changing statutes, but also on precedents within the state, which can affect the amount of money that a victim can recover for their losses. While it may seem like saving money to avoid hiring a lawyer and accepting a settlement from a company or individual instead, some injuries require long-term care, which may not be covered by a settlement. If you are uncertain about what course of action you should take, it would be best to consult with a professional, particularly since most personal injury attorneys offer free consultation services.