What is the Purpose of “Personal Injury Law”?
To kick off 2020, the Shaked Law Firm’s Law Resource Blog wants to educate the public on the true purpose of Personal Injury Law. The accidents and injuries occurring as a result of negligent or reckless actions, fall under the Personal Injury Law umbrella. Whether it’s a business or a doctor, negligent actions result in a direct risk to public safety. In the most severe instances, negligence causes wrongful death.
Personal Injury Law‘s definition is the following:
“[…]physical injury inflicted on a person’s body, as opposed to damage to property or reputation.”
In the days and weeks following an accident due to negligence, it’s important for victims to ascertain whether their case is eligible for compensation.
Within our first writeup of 2020, we’ll answer the following questions:
- What is Personal Injury and when is it necessary?
- When do cases go to trial?
- Trial or Mediation?
- Why does the Statute of Limitations matter in Florida?
What is “Personal Injury Law” and when is it necessary?
A “Personal Injury” case arises when one sustains injuries or a wrongful death occurs. These injuries are usually due to an accident where the party with the injuries is not at-fault. After a victim is in a car accident for example, another party may be responsible for the negligence resulting in injuries. Wrongful death is also part of Personal Injury Law.
When do Personal Injury cases go to trial?
Personal Injury cases become “formal lawsuits” when a lawyer takes the case. Depending on the facts, some cases settle during mediation. Mediation is preferential when financial compensation is fair to the client. When the offer of a settlement during mediation isn’t sufficient for the victim’s injuries, the case will go to trial.
Under normal circumstances, settlement offers occur before a case goes to trial. Mediation saves time and money for both sides. This is why it’s preferable to a lengthy trial. However, sometimes trial is necessary. In cases of TBI and other severe injuries, trial may be the only way for a victim to receive justice. Most lawyers with experience tend to opt for Mediation if it’s beneficial to the client. When a settlement offer from the insurance company is fair, a lawyer may deem trial unnecessary. Regardless, a Personal Injury lawyer with Board Certification prepares for any case outcome.
Trial or Mediation?
Below, we’ll look at instances of trial and Mediation as they pertain to Personal Injury Law:
- Formal lawsuit. While a criminal cases can be brought by the government, formal Personal Injury Law claims generally begin when a private citizen retains a lawyer. The lawyer files a civil “complaint” against the opposing individual. In doing so, the party with injuries is formally alleging they came to harm as a direct result of the other individual’s actions.
- Reaching a settlement. Personal Injury Law cases that allege either/or bodily or mental harm sometimes resolve during Mediation. This happens when an insurance company offers the victim(s) an amount of compensation that’s fair for their pain and suffering. During Mediation, Personal Injury lawyers and the insurance company’s lawyers argue each side. If a settlement is reasonable during Mediation, trial is unnecessary.
Why does the Statute of Limitations matter in Florida?
“Plaintiffs” (victims) are limited in their time to file a lawsuit. This is called the “Statute of Limitations” and in the state of Florida, it is (2) two years.
If a plaintiff exceeds the two-year Statute in which they have a right to file a lawsuit, they forfeit any potential compensation they may have sought to gain. The judge dismisses these complaints every time. No matter how credible or the extent of injuries, very few cases exceeding the limit see trial. In very few instances, the “Discovery Rule” applies. This legal principle is an exception for cases where wrongful death occurs. In these cases, the victim cannot speak on their own behalf. Thus, consideration is given to how long they were aware of their precarious situation.
In 2019’s What Are Florida’s Laws Surrounding Wrongful Death? we establish a basis for the “Discovery Rule”:
“[…]In order for the court to determine whether the victim could have reasonably known that illness or injury catastrophic enough to be fatal was to occur before they passed away, a lawyer must determine whether or not the death was directly caused by another person. If the victim can be proven to have reasonably known an injury or illness was considered fatal, the clock begins ticking prior to the actual death. For example, thousands of victims living with terminal cancer caused by Monsanto’s Roundup have begun to file their Class Action claims prior to their inevitable deaths.”
Personal Injury Law… it’s about people!
While other areas of law abide by rules within Statutes (penal codes), much of Personal Injury law allows decisions to be made by the opposing parties. Mediation is one way Personal Injury lawyers resolve cases fairly. However, when settlement offers are not sufficient, cases go to trial. The way Personal Injury claims proceed are due to the nature of these cases. When people suffer harm as resulting from negligence, pain and suffering factors in. Moral ethics and compassion are at the forefront of Personal Injury case resolutions.
A handful of states do make attempts to summarize Personal Injury Law. Though for now, many practical reasons deem both Mediation agreements and court verdicts an official standard of law. This is in the best interest of victims. It takes their pain and suffering into account.