What is a Personal Injury Lawsuit?
A personal injury lawsuit is a tort claim.
That brief definition summarizes a huge amount of legal history and information that boils down to “a victim can go to civil court to seek compensation from a person or organization that injured them.”
“Tort” is the word lawyers and judges use for “harm,” and “claim” is the whole process a person goes through to receive a settlement or judgment. Compensation for a personal injury usually takes the form of monetary payments through an insurance policy, but an agreement to provide specific services and to refrain from certain activities in the future can also result.
The Columbus personal injury attorneys with Agee Clymer Mitchell and Portman could fill the internet with increasingly more-detailed explanations and examples of tort claims. We’ll spare you that. Instead, to help you understand the process, we will list types of personal injury claims, walk you through the highlights of the claims process, and briefly discuss what forms of compensation a personal injury victim can ask to receive.
Types of Personal Injuries
A personal injury claim must begin with, well, an actual injury. The harm can be physical, emotional, psychological, or financial. Wrongful deaths also fall into the broadest understanding of personal injuries.
Common causes of personal injuries include the following:
- Car and truck accidents
- Slips and falls at businesses and on other people’s property
- Medical malpractice, including surgical errors and prescribing and administering medications incorrectly
- Nursing home abuse
- Defective products, including dangerous drugs
- Animal attacks, especially dog bites
Most personal injury claims arise from negligence or recklessness. That is, no one meant to cause harm; they just did not do enough to prevent an injury. When a person or company acts maliciously, however, the result is an intentional tort—and often a crime. Examples of intentional torts include fraud, theft, invasion of privacy, and libel and slander (i.e., defamation).
Pursing a Personal Injury Lawsuit
To succeed with a personal injury claim, the person filing the lawsuit must present solid evidence that he or she suffered harm. Medical records, doctor bills, absentee reports from work, and statements from family members can substantiate an injury and its effects on the victim’s ability to live and work following the injury. Intentional tort claims will require more financial evidence, while physical injury claims will depend more heavily on health information.
Collecting and organizing the relevant evidence also requires taking depositions from the victim, which, in the event of a wrongful death, would be the designated representative of the deceased person’s estate. Depositions are also needed from the person who allegedly inflicted the injury or the legal representatives of the organization named as a defendant in the lawsuit.
Mountains of paperwork get generated, and most personal injuries reach a settlement or go to mediation before the parties set foot in a courtroom. Working closely with an experienced and dedicated Ohio personal injury lawyer from early in the process will help ensure all the right forms reach all the right people at the right time. A plaintiff’s attorney can also accompany you during depositions to make sure you get treated fairly, protect you from getting pressured into accepting lowball payments, and stand for you at trial.
Types of Compensation
“Types of compensation” is another topic that merits in-depth discussion. The one-minute version is that an injured person can file claims for reimbursement, noneconomic damages, and punitive damages. Reimbursement can include medical bill payments, property replacement and repairs, and lost wages. Noneconomic damages often get labeled “pain and suffering,” but they can also cover psychological trauma and loss of companionship.
“Punitive” means “punishing.” When assessed as part of a personal injury claim, punitive damages represent noncriminal fines for inflicting severe harm or acting in an egregious fashion. Drunk drivers, unlicensed health care providers, and companies that willfully ignore safety regulations are frequently ordered to pay punitive damages in addition to other forms of compensation.
To learn how requests for compensation can be calculated, and to have other questions regarding personal injury claims answered, call Agee Clymer Mitchell and Portman toll free at (800) 678-3318. You can also contact us online to schedule a no-cost case consultation. Any person harmed by another deserves compensation.