Have you been in a car accident? Or maybe you slipped and fell in a department store. I’m sure we have all seen those ads where a personal injury lawyer promises to fight for your rights and get you money for your injury. However, perhaps the first step is to understand exactly what personal injury law is.
Personal injury law, which is generally considered part of an area of law formally known as tort law, involves an injured party obtaining compensation from the party that injured them. Tort law is very broad, and involves business and persons. Personal injury law is one small portion of tort law which deals only with injuries sustained to people.
Although an injury is involved, personal injury cases are civil cases, not criminal cases. Personal injury cases are distinguishable from criminal cases in that crimes are prosecuted by the city or state and involve punishment to the person who committed the crime. However, personal injury cases, as civil cases, involve money payments or other equitable compensation to the injured person, paid by the person who injured them. Personal injury cases typically include car, truck, or motorcycle accidents, slip and falls, medical malpractice, injury from a defective product (products liability), injury from defective medicine, or wrongful deaths.
Personal injury cases can also range from small to massive. Some cases may involve a minor car accident with less than $500 in damages. Yet, there are other cases, such as cases against tobacco or drug companies, which could involve hundreds of people and millions of dollars.
The courts where personal injury cases are heard are usually the trial courts of general jurisdiction. Depending on the state, the court could be called District Court, Circuit Court, or Superior Court. Some general jurisdiction courts also have a Small Claims Court division which handles cases with limited money disputes where the parties are not represented by attorneys. There is usually a set financial limit, such $3,000. As such, if a personal injury case has claims less than the financial limit, then the case could be heard in the Small Claims Court. Also, some general jurisidiction courts may also have financial limtis, and will only hear cases with claims up to $50,000. Thus, if the personal injury case claims exceed that limit, then it may appear in a different court.
There are thousands of personal injury lawyers in the United States who can help with a personal injury claim. However, if you are or may become involved in a personal injury case, you may find it beneficial to review information about your particular personal injury matter before seeing an attorney. Or if you have a case that could be heard in a Small Claims Court, seeking the help of an attorney may not even be necessary. Also, because the rules associated with personal injury law are largely created by prior case decisions, also known as precedent, reviewing personal injury cases could be a helpful way to understand your rights. Courtreference.com has links to legal research resources, attorney directories, and court websites. Courtreference.com also provides an overview of the various cases heard and financial limits of trial courts throughout the United States. Just a few clicks could help you locate all the information you need for your personal injury case.�