What is Personal Injury Law?

Personal injury law is concerned with seeking compensation for those who have been injured by the actions of others (or from the inaction of others when action should have been taken).  In a lawsuit, the person damaged or injured is required to set forth a legal theory concerning why they are entitled to compensation, together with the facts that support this legal theory.

In a lawsuit, the attorneys for the person injured must prove their case in order to obtain a verdict.  Normally, in a personal injury lawsuit, the degree of proof required is a much lower standard than required in criminal law cases.  In criminal cases, the standard of proof required usually is “beyond a reasonable doubt;” in personal injury cases, the standard usually is a “more likely than not” standard (or proof beyond 50%).

How Much Compensation is Available in Personal Injury Suits?

Personal injury lawsuits are generally designed to put the injured party back to the same financial position as they would have been in had they not been injured.  In other words, just because a person has been injured, this does not give the person an unfettered right to whatever damages they believe are appropriate.  Instead, the person’s lawyer will seek to prove the full scale and amount of damages that their client has sustained.

In accidents, such compensation often includes claims for pain and suffering, lost income, medical expenses, and related costs.  Some aspects of compensation – such as pain and suffering – are not readily quantifiable; as a result, plaintiffs’ attorneys will seek to prove the suffering endured by their clients, and it will be up to a jury to determine a dollar amount associated with such suffering.

In some limited cases in which reckless or outrageous conduct has occurred, an injured person may also seek punitive damages.  Punitive damages are designed to punish wrongdoers for their dangerous conduct, not to compensate the victim for the victim’s actual losses. As an example, if a person was injured in a car accident because another driver was not paying attention, there may not be a strong case for seeking punitive damages; while if a person was injured by another driver who was drag racing, a case for punitive damages may exist.  If we believe that there is a legal basis for seeking punitive damages, we will make such a claim for appropriate compensation.

Legal Classifications for Personal Injury Claims

Personal injuries can result from action (or inaction) based upon a number of legal theories.  Three common legal theories are negligence, intentional torts, and product liability.  The following discusses these areas.

Negligence

Negligence is likely the most frequently alleged basis in personal injury claims. Stated briefly, negligence in the legal context means that one person or party owed a legal duty to another person or party which was breached, causing injury or damages.  As an example, when we drive, we owe a legal duty to others to drive in a safe manner. If we fail to stop at a red light and hit another vehicle, a jury may find that we have breached our duty to operate our car in a safe manner. If this finding is made, a jury would then determine what damages must be paid to the injured victim in order to make the victim “whole.”

Intentional Torts

As the name implies, intentional torts occur when another person or entity tries to deliberately inflict harm. As an example, if a person makes false accusations about a private individual that were not true in order to cause damage to the person’s reputation and to create mental anguish, the person making the false accusations may be liable for an intentional tort. Intentional torts are somewhat harder to prove than negligence, as usually  it must be shown that the person acted with intentionality and malice.

Product Liability

We expect that the products that we use will be safe. However, this is not always the case.

Products can be effective in a number of different ways, including the following:

  • The product can be inherently defective based upon the manufacturing or design of the product. For instance, a chainsaw that had a propensity for the chain to come loose and inflict injury upon the user likely would be found to be defective.
  • The product may be defective because adequate instructions concerning product use or safety may not have been given.  As an example, dangerous equipment and machinery usually should come with instructions about use and safety. If adequate instructions were not provided and a person sustained an injury as a result, a defective product may be found.

How We Help

Regardless of the specific nature of your injury, we will work meticulously in investigating and advancing your case. In many cases, we often hire accident reconstructionists and other experts in seeking to prove fault, and consult with physicians and healthcare providers in order to establish injuries and damages.

We have decades of experience in representing clients in personal injury claims.  We stand ready to give clients our full commitment and dedication towards seeking full and fair compensation for their injuries.  While no guaranty can be made of a successful result, we will use our experience and work hard for you in advancing your case and in seeking to hold those responsible fully accountable for their wrongdoing.

We represent clients in personal injury claims on a contingency fee basis, and we offer a free, no-obligation consultation so that you can meet with us and learn how we may be able to help you.

103 W. Seneca Street, Suite 301
Ithaca, NY 14850
Telephone: (607) 272-5590
Fax: (607) 272-5594

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