What is personal injury law?

According to the American Bar Association, “personal injury law, also known as tort law, is designed to protect you if you or your property is injured or harmed because of someone else’s act or failure to act. In a successful tort action, the one who caused the injury or harm compensates the one who suffered the losses.”

Tort Law is defined as “…an act or omission that gives rise to injury or harm to another and amounts to a civil wrong for which courts impose liability. In the context of torts, “injury” describes the invasion of any legal right, whereas “harm” describes a loss or detriment in fact that an individual suffers,” according to the Legal Information Institute.

This means that personal injury law is any situation in which someone’s intentional or unintentional actions harm another person.

Most personal injury situations involve one or more of the following:

Intentional Acts

When someone’s intentional actions injure or harm another, personal injury law is applicable. This includes battery, assault, and many other intentional torts.


When someone’s negligent actions result in the harm or injury of another, personal injury laws apply. This includes car accidents, medical malpractice, slip and fall cases, bog bite claims, and much more.

Defective Products

Personal Injury Law applies when vehicle machinery, medical device, consumer product, or other product is defective and causes harm or injury to a person. A victim of a dangerously defective product can file a product liability lawsuit against the manufacturer.

Strict Liability

Strict Liability holds a defendant responsible for committing an action regardless of what their intentions are. It does not matter how or why the action was taken if another person was injured or harmed as a result. For example, if someone is harmed by a defective product, the manufacturer is responsible for that harm even if they didn’t act out of negligence or malice when making the product.

Bodily Harm

Personal injury can happen as a result of some harm done to the body of another, such as:

  • Battery
  • Assault
  • Nursing home neglect or abuse
  • Car accidents
  • Defective products
  • Medical malpractice
  • A dog bite or other animal attacks
  • Accidents at the workplace

Non-Bodily Harm

Non-bodily harm can also fall under personal injury law, such as:

  • Defamation
  • False imprisonment, arrest, detainment
  • Intentional cause of emotional distress
  • Malicious prosecution

What are Damages?

Damages in a civil case refer to a remedy in the form of monetary compensation paid to the injured or harmed party. There are many different damages that can be paid by the liable party. A few examples include:

  • Lost wages from missed work
  • Pain and suffering
  • Medical bills
  • Auto repair or replacement
  • Mental or emotional distress
  • Treatment for mental health disorders such as PTSD, depression, or anxiety
  • Travel expenses
  • Childcare
  • Other household expenses

Timeline of a personal injury case

While every situation is different, there are certain standard events that most personal injury cases have in common.

Someone is injured or harmed by someone else

As we have discussed above, this does not necessarily have to be out of malice or negligence but can be any act under any circumstances which harms the plaintiff. The only main exception to this is when there is a breach of contract, which is handled under contract law.

The plaintiff identifies that a legal duty has been breached

Legal duty will vary with each situation, here are a few examples:

  • A healthcare professional has a legal duty to treat a patient with a certain standard of care.
  • A driver has a legal duty to operate their vehicle responsibly
  • A dog owner has a legal duty to keep their pet from attacking anyone

Settlement Talks

Once the breach of legal duty has been made clear to the defendant, settlement talks occur. Typically, attorneys represent the opposing parties and try to negotiate compensation for damages outside of the court. If the two parties can reach a settlement, monetary compensation is exchanged for the plaintiff’s binding word not to file a lawsuit over the injury and the case ends.

Taking things to court

When a satisfactory settlement cannot be reached between the two parties, the plaintiff and defendant must go to the courts to find a solution. After a lawsuit is filed, however, a settlement can still be reached at any time before trial.

If you are thinking of filing a personal injury lawsuit, be sure to contact an experienced personal injury attorney for a free consultation about how to move forward with your case. Call (678) 819-5200 to speak to a reputable attorney determined to achieve justice for you or your loved one.