The Legal Definition of Personal Injury

Everyone has heard the term “personal injury,” but you may not know what the term means in a legal sense, and you may not be aware of how it applies to you. Personal injury is a legal term that refers to injury to a person’s body, mind, or emotions, rather than injury to property. The phrase is used most commonly in injury lawsuits that allege the plaintiff (the person suing) has been injured through another person’s negligence. Damages can include bodily injury, intentionally causing emotional distress, and negligently causing emotional distress. The most common personal injury claims relate to traffic accidents, work accidents, tripping, assault, home accidents, product defects and product liability accidents, and holiday accidents. Personal injury claims can also include medical or dental accidents or malpractice, as well as industrial diseases such as mesothelioma, asbestosis, pneumoconiosis, emphysema, asthma, chronic bronchitis, occupational deafness, and repetitive strain injuries. Depending on the negligence or the intent of the responsible party, you might be entitled to compensation through a judgment or settlement. A judgment is when the court grants you a payment amount; a settlement is when the responsible party or insurance company offers a payment to avoid trial. Cases are usually handled on a “contingent fee basis,” by work injury lawyers meaning they will not charge you unless your case is successful, and then they collect a percentage of the judgment you receive. Damages can be categorized as either general or special. Special damages are the measurable costs that can be itemized, such as lost earnings, medical expenses, or property damages. General damages are less measurable, including pain and suffering, emotional distress, and loss of consortium (loss of the ability to enjoy family relationships due to injury). The amount you can receive in compensation for your injury depends primarily on how severe your injury is. Serious injuries such as brain damage, broken bones, or severed limbs cause more intense pain and suffering, and these receive higher injury settlements. If you have suffered a more permanent injury, you may receive additional compensation, especially if the injury prevents you from working. The compensation would be based on the length of the injury. For example, if you are unable to work for six months while completing physical therapy, you would be entitled to compensation of the lost wages for that period. If you are permanently unable to work, the judgment would consider the wages you would have potentially earned during your lifetime. This loss of wages is known as “loss of amenity,” and it would be payable in addition to the pain and suffering settlement. If your injury was caused by an auto accident, your bodily injuries will typically be covered by the auto insurance policy. The insurance company will provide legal defense to the defendant, and they may offer you a settlement to avoid the cost of trial. These settlement offers are typically much less than you would receive in a trial judgment, and they may not be enough to cover your medical expenses and lost wages, let alone compensate you for the pain and suffering you experienced. A personal injury attorney can help you negotiate a fair settlement with the insurance company, and they will fight for you in court if necessary. If you have been injured in an accident caused by someone else, you need a good personal injury attorney. A qualified law firm can help you whether you need a work injury lawyer, have a claim due to a traffic accident, or a wrongful death suit. Some of the cases personal injury law firms commonly handle include auto accidents, 18-wheeler accidents, and work and industrial accidents. They are experienced in all areas of personal injury cases, so contact an experienced lawyer in your area if you have any questions.