Medical attention always comes first. But after hospital visits, you may be wondering if a personal injury lawyer can help you repay all your medical bills. This infographic will help you understand the basics of personal injury law. Some may still think that personal injury is all about “frivolous lawsuits.”
Today, many have seen this myth debunked. Personal injury victims and their attorneys seek justice after an accident that was caused by another’s negligence. Here we will try to answer your questions about this area of law:
- What is personal injury law?
- What’s an example of a personal injury case?
- When should you hire a personal injury attorney?
Ready for some advice on how to choose the best personal injury lawyer for your case?
Want to understand more about personal injury law? This infographic gives you the basics of what can also be called tort law.
Infographic: Intro to Personal Injury Law
Want to learn more about personal injury law? This infographic gives you an overview of what personal injury law really involves. It's not just lawyers on TV asking you to call if in a car accident, it's lawyers helping real people hurt by another's negligence. Take a quick dive into the field by reading seeing examples of famous cases that define the practice (remember that McDonald's hot coffee case?) as well as how a case works.
Personal Injury Law is an area of law that provides compensation for victims emotionally or physically injured as a result of an accident. A person who suffers harm or injury may be entitled to some kind of compensation.
Personal injury lawsuits may cause a business to change their practices in order to prevent future injuries. In the past, personal injury lawsuits have been the reason behind a number of safety improvements in many different industries.
Famous Personal Injury Cases
Not sure if you’ve ever heard of a personal injury case? Chances are – you have. Two famous personal injury cases:
- Liebeck v. McDonald’s Restaurants
- Harris v. McGraw
Around that time, the media presented the plaintiff as a greedy person trying to get rich off of a minor injury. In reality, Stella Liebeck suffered third-degree burns in her pelvic region by hot coffee purchased at McDonald’s Restaurant. Doctors were not sure if the 79-year-old woman would survive as she had to undergo multiple skin graft surgeries and over two years of treatment.
The lawsuit accused McDonald’s of selling coffee that was “unreasonably dangerous” and “defectively manufactured.” The trial revealed that McDonald’s required franchisees to hold coffee at 180-190 °F (82–88 °C). At that temperature, the coffee could cause third degree burns in a matter of 2-7 seconds. Liebeck’s attorneys argued that coffee should never be served hotter than 140 °F.
Dr. Phil’s Big Bite
In February of 2011 a story broke about daytime TV celebrity, Dr. Phil McGraw. A lawsuit was filed by Janet Harris, a skin care businesswoman who had visited Dr. Phil’s home to screen a Christmas special in which she appeared. During the visit Harris was bit by Dr. Phil’s dog. Robin McGraw called her husband to notify him that she was taking their guest, Janet Harris, to the hospital. But he advised her from the golf course not to go to the hospital as an effort to avoid bad publicity.
Harris didn’t go to the hospital that day, but did when she was advised by a doctor who was concerned for her safety. He warned of a serious (and potentially fatal) infection of pastuerella multocida. According to the suit, Harris suffered hearing loss and a tremor in her right hand – an injury that forced her to shut down a thriving skin care business.
We don’t know the final outcome because this case was settled out of court.
Common Types of Personal Injury
While no two personal injury cases are the same, there are a few types of injuries that tend to occur more often than others:
- Car Crash Accidents
- Trucking accidents
- Boating accidents
- Dog Bites
- Slip and Fall accidents
- Work-related accidents
- Medical malpractice – when a medical professional causes you additional harm beyond the health reasons that you’re there.
- Product liability – injury from a faulty product
- Fatal accidents
No matter what your injury is, it is important to take the necessary steps to insure that you are being properly taken care of, whether that requires hospitalization, representation, and/or compensation. Make sure you consult with your lawyer thoroughly, because the process will be slightly different depending on how you got your injury.
How Does a Personal Injury Case Work?
There is a lot involved in personal injury cases, and it takes a lot of work to make sure you get the settlement you deserve. There are 5 steps involved in a personal injury case:
- Find a Lawyer: Contact personal injury law firms and find the right one.
- Select and Sign: Once you find the right lawyer for you, sign with them.
- Discovery and Deposition: The law firm will gather necessary information, plan out your case, and talk to insurance on your behalf.
- Negotiations: Negotiations or court interactions will determine if you receive an award, and how much that award will be.
- Outcome: You will receive you financial award to cover medical expenses, lost income, pain, suffering, and other costs accrued.
For more information on how a personal injury case works, check out our old post here.
Understanding Damage Caps in Personal Injury Cases
When it comes to personal injury cases, it is important to understand what damage caps are. A damage cap limits the amount of money the injured plaintiff can receive from the defendant.
Damage caps in Texas apply in three situations:
- Personal Injury Cases Where Punitive Damages Are Awarded: Sometimes a case involves damages against a party to serve as punishment for grossly negligent behavior. These damages are not for economic reimbursement (for medical bills and lost wages) nor for non-economic damages (pain and suffering). Instead, these damages are used to send a message to a party who has acted in a manner that deserves punishment.
- Medical Malpractice Cases: Texas passed The Medical Malpractice and Tort Reform Act of 2003 that limited the maximum money amount a person can receive for non-economic damages in medical malpractice case. Currently a person can sue for the total amount of economic damages, but the caps come in when calculating non-economic damages.
- Personal Injury Cases Filed Against Government Entities: Government entities have immunity from liability in personal injury cases and, when they do have liability, caps on how much they can be sued for.
For more information on damage caps, read here.
Hire McMinn as Your Personal Injury Lawyer
You may have a potential injury case if someone around you acted negligently and caused you harm. A negligent act is when someone does something that a reasonable person would not do. However, a negligent act alone does not mean that you have a personal injury case. You must prove that an injury was caused because of this negligent act.
In short, to have a good personal injury case you must be ready to prove that the other party was negligent and that you suffered injuries that your doctor will say are due to the negligent act.
If you have the proof, then you need a lawyer. A personal injury lawyer provides legal representation to those who have been injured either/both physically and psychologically due to the negligence of another person, company, or other entity.
These types of lawyers have extensive experience with a kind of law known as tort law. Tort law includes civil wrongs and economic or non-economic damages to a person’s rights, reputation, or property. Personal injury generally refers to cases that fall under tort law including automobile accidents, truck accidents, motorcycle accidents, workplace injuries, medical malpractice, explosions, vehicle defect claims, products liability, and many others.
A personal injury lawyer is licensed to practice law by their respective state bar association. Once licensed, they are legally able to argue cases in court, offer legal advice, draft legal documents, and file legal complaints. They are responsible for helping their clients to obtain justice and compensation for their losses and emotional suffering. Typically, personal injury cases settle outside of court, however, they may have to go to court if a settlement cannot be reached.
If you or someone you love has been injured due to the negligence of another, then you need legal representation quickly to offer legal advice and advocate for your case.