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What is Personal Injury Law?

  • by Avi Cohen

Personal injury law consists of injuries that arise from torts committed by another person.  The most common claim in a personal injury case is for negligence.  This is predominantly the case in car accidents, slip and fall cases, medical malpractice, construction accidents and work-related accidents, for example.  A person would be liable for negligence when he/she fails to act as a reasonable person should to the claimant to whom the “tortfeasor” owes a duty as defined under the law.  To be clear, negligent torts are not intentional acts but rather are accidental.  

What many people do not understand is that even if a person committed a negligent act against you, this does not necessarily mean you should automatically sue or file a claim.  To succeed in a personal injury case, you must show that you were injured as a result of the tortfeasor’s negligence and breach of duty to you.  For example, if you were rear-ended at a low speed and were not hurt, it will be difficult to succeed because you were not injured and did not sustain damages.  However, if you were a passenger in a vehicle or a pedestrian crossing the street, and were involved a automobile accident by no fault of your own, AND you were injured (i.e. broken leg, broken arm, a tear in your shoulder or knee) to such a degree that you met New York’s “serious injury” threshold – where you have been homebound or bedridden for several months, there is a great likelihood you can succeed in a personal injury lawsuit or claim.

A personal injury lawyer’s responsibility is to investigate your claims and assess who was liable, whether you were injured (the most obvious examples are surgery after your motor vehicle accident, or requiring stitches or needing a cast to heal a broken bone) and the county where to file your case.  Other factors your attorney should quickly determine is the size of the negligent party’s insurance policy and whether they have additional assets which can be attached should you succeed in obtaining a judgment against that negligent party.