The Basics of Personal Injury Law
The world may not be fair, but the justice system aims to make it as fair as possible for victims of crimes and those who have suffered due to someone else’s actions. Through the civil and criminal justice systems, people can be held responsible for their negligence. The criminal justice system imposes criminal penalties, such as fines and jail time, while the civil system allows those who have been wronged to seek direct compensation.
Have you been injured or suffered financial losses due to someone else’s action or inaction? If so, filing a personal injury claim may be the right choice for you.
What is Personal Injury?
Personal injury is an area of law that lets victims of negligence seek financial compensation for their injuries, financial losses, and pain and suffering. It is a fairly broad area of law, encompassing many types of accidents and incidents. Common personal injury cases include:
- Car, truck, motorcycle, and other vehicle accidents
- Slip and fall injuries
- Dog bites and animal attacks
- Medical malpractice
- Assault and intentional violence
- Defective product injuries
Who Can File a Claim?
In most cases, only the victim of the negligent act can file a personal injury claim against the neglectful party. If the victim is a minor, their guardian or parent may be able to seek damages on their behalf. If the victim dies as a result of the accident, their executor and surviving family members can file a claim against the liable party.
When Can a Victim Pursue Damages?
Each state has its own statute of limitations for personal injury cases. In Alabama, most personal injury cases have a two-year statute of limitations. Victims must file a claim against the liable party within two years of the date of the accident.
If the liable party is a governmental body, the laws are slightly different. A claim against a municipality must be filed no later than six months after the accident, and a claim against a county has a one-year statute of limitations.
Why is a Personal Injury Case the Right Choice?
For those unfamiliar with civil suits, a personal injury case may not seem like the right way to seek justice. If someone acted negligently or in a criminal manner, shouldn’t they be held liable through the criminal justice system? Shouldn’t they have to do more than just pay up?
However, in many cases, there is no law broken in a personal injury case. Consider, for example, a slip-and-fall injury caused by poorly installed handrails on someone’s home. The homeowner was negligent in not installing better handrails, but they did not commit a crime.
Even if a crime is committed, the criminal justice system does not always help the victim recover financially from their injuries. The perpetrator may have to pay fines or spend time in prison, but that does not help the victim pay off the thousands of dollars in medical bills they have accumulated because of the accident. In cases that involve a crime and financial damages, perpetrators may be held accountable by both the civil system and the criminal justice system.
How Does a Victim Start the Process?
After an accident, a victim should begin by speaking to an Alabama personal injury lawyer. Most of the time, these disputes are handled through negotiation and do not ever reach a courtroom. Many of these cases are handled by the liable party’s insurance company, which would much rather avoid the expenses of a lawsuit by paying a reasonable settlement. By working with an attorney, an individual can get a thorough understanding of how much their accident is worth, what a fair settlement would be, and how to move forward with their case.
It is important to connect with a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible after an accident. If the other party was negligent, it is likely that their insurance company will reach out to the victim fairly quickly. If the victim speaks with the insurance company, they could endanger their settlement, inadvertently weaken their case, or otherwise act against their own best interests.
Wondering if you can seek compensation for injuries with a personal injury case? We are here to help. Contact the team at Haygood, Cleveland, Pierce, Thompson & Short at 334-821-3892 to discuss your case.