What Is a Personal Injury Case?

Have you ever wondered what a personal injury case is? It’s a type of legal case that comes up a lot and usually means someone needs a lawyer’s help. There are many different situations that can lead to a personal injury case. Most of the time, these cases are about someone not being careful, which lawyers call ‘negligence.’ 

Knowing what a personal injury case is can help you understand what steps you should take next. 

Different Kinds of Personal Injury Lawsuits

Personal injury lawsuits can be about many different issues, including the following: 

  • Motor vehicle accidents: This includes car, motorcycle, and truck accidents. Whether it’s a regular car crash, a motorcycle getting hit, or a big truck accident, if someone gets hurt because of another driver, it can lead to a lawsuit.
  • Defamation: When someone tells or writes something untrue about you, and it harms your reputation.
  • Dog bites: If a dog bites and injures you.
  • Medical malpractice: If you are harmed because of a big mistake by a doctor or hospital.
  • Product liability: This is when you get hurt because a product you used was made badly or didn’t work properly.
  • Slip and fall accidents: If you fall and get injured because a place wasn’t safe.
  • Workers’ compensation: If you get hurt while doing your job.
  • Wrongful death: This happens when someone dies due to someone else’s carelessness or a mistake.

The type of lawsuit you choose depends on what happened to you. For instance, if you’re in a car or truck accident and someone else is to blame, you might file a lawsuit against that driver. But if you’re hurt by a defective product, your claim would be against the manufacturer or vendor of that product.

Understanding Negligence in Personal Injury Cases

Negligence is a key part of many personal injury cases. To win your case, you have to prove negligence, which means showing four main things:

  • Duty of care: The person who caused the injury had a responsibility to not harm you.
  • Breach of duty: They didn’t follow that responsibility.
  • Cause: Their action (or failure to act) led to your injury.
  • Damages: You suffered harm or losses because of their actions.

Imagine you’re in a grocery store. The store has a responsibility to keep its floors safe for customers. But let’s say they just mopped the floor and didn’t put up a sign to warn you. You walk over the wet floor, slip, and get hurt. 

In this case, the store had the duty to keep you safe (by putting up warning signs), but they didn’t. Their failure to warn you is what caused your fall and injury. 

Proving negligence can be complex, and there may be other legal factors involved in different types of personal injury cases.

Why Do People File Personal Injury Claims?

After getting hurt, the courts can’t turn back time and stop the injury from happening. But, courts can make the person who caused your injury pay you for the harm they caused. Filing a personal injury claim is about getting this kind of justice. It’s a way to hold the person who hurt you responsible for what they did to you.

When we talk about the harm or losses in these cases, there are two kinds: economic and non-economic.

Types of Damages in Personal Injury Cases

When someone files a personal injury case, they can ask for different types of damages, or money, for the harm they’ve gone through. These damages are mainly divided into three types: economic, non-economic, and punitive damages.

Economic damages are about the actual money you lost because of the injury, including:

  • Medical bills: Costs for doctors, treatment, and care
  • Lost wages: Money you couldn’t earn because you were too hurt to work
  • Property damage: If any of your things were damaged in the accident
  • Future costs: If you’ll need ongoing medical care or can’t work as much in the future.

Non-economic damages are for the pain and suffering that don’t have a specific price tag. 

Non-economic damages include the following:

  • Physical pain: The actual pain and discomfort from your injuries
  • Mental and emotional distress: This can be stress, sadness, or serious issues like PTSD, depression, or anxiety.
  • Scarring and disfigurement: If the injury changes how you look.
  • Disabilities: If you can’t do certain things anymore.
  • Loss of enjoyment of life: If you can’t enjoy your normal activities.

Valuing non-economic damages is tricky because they’re about personal experiences, not direct costs.

Punitive damages are rare. These damages are like a penalty for the person who caused the injury, especially when they were extremely careless or knowingly dangerous. For example, in a car accident where the driver was under the influence, the court might order punitive damages as a punishment for their dangerous behavior.

Steps to Filing a Personal Injury Lawsuit

If you’ve been hurt and are thinking about filing a personal injury lawsuit, it’s helpful to know the steps involved. 

Here’s a breakdown of the typical steps in a personal injury case:

  • Filing a complaint: You start by writing and filing a complaint in the court. This document explains what the defendant did wrong and what you want in return. It also notifies the defendant about the lawsuit and gives them a deadline to respond.
  • Serving the defendant: The defendant needs to officially receive the complaint. This can be done by a process server, sheriff, or constable, depending on where you live.
  • Defendant’s answer: After receiving your complaint, the defendant will send their response to the court. They might deny what you’ve said or admit some parts. They’ll also include their defenses.
  • The discovery process: Next, both sides exchange information like witness statements, medical records, and financial details. 
  • Settlement conferences: If the case isn’t settled during discovery, settlement conferences are held. Here, both sides try to agree on a solution. Sometimes, mediation or arbitration is required.
  • Going to trial: If the case still isn’t resolved, it goes to trial, where a judge or jury decides the outcome.

The personal injury lawsuit process has several stages. At any point before the trial, it’s possible for both sides to agree on a settlement. This means resolving the case without going to court.

Contact an Experienced Rock Hill Personal Injury Lawyer

If you’re dealing with a personal injury case in Rock Hill, SC and need expert legal advice, Elrod Pope Accident & Injury Attorneys is here to help. Our experienced team is committed to guiding you through every step of your case, ensuring you’re well-informed and supported.

Contact us today or call (803) 324-7574 to schedule a free consultation with our Rock Hill personal injury attorney and to learn more about personal injury cases.