Personal injury cases make the news fairly regularly and often have headlines touting big dollar amounts that were awarded by a jury. If asked, there are likely many people outside the legal field who could not actually say what personal injury law is and what types of injuries it covers. Personal injury law is not as simple as “you’re injured so you can sue” but it doesn’t have to be as complicated as a medical malpractice lawsuit either. Understanding the breadth of cases that fall within the “personal injury” umbrella is an important first step to knowing how and if you have a case.
To many first year law students, the word “torts” brings with it visions of lecture halls and massive textbooks. To many others, however, it may not conjure any images at all. Personal injury law is also known as tort law and a tort can be described as an injury caused negligently or intentionally by another who is liable for the harm. Personal injury law covers car accidents, medical malpractice, slip and fall cases, defamation cases (i.e. libel and slander), dog bites, assault, battery, and a group of charges known as “intentional torts.” This last category is what makes the field of tort law unique, as it covers injuries that are caused with intent, and not by accident, as is part of many of the other areas.
Intentional vs. Negligent
Personal injury law covers such a wide variety of injuries because it deals with both intentional harm and negligent harm. Take, for instance, a car accident in which Car A hits Car B. A standard car accident in which Car A runs a stop sign and hits Car B, who had the right of way, would deal with negligence. On the other hand, it may be an intentional tort if it is found that the driver of Car A used the vehicle as a weapon and deliberately rammed Car B, with the intent of harming someone in Car B. It may not always be obvious which type of harm is at issue in a case, and so many attorneys spend time and money on investigators who can help find evidence of either negligence or intent.
The field of personal injury law was designed to help make a victim of someone else’s careless, reckless, or intentional infliction of harm, whole. It is for this reason that personal injury damages awards are so often splashed across the front page of newspapers. What many people do not realize as they read these headlines, however, is that the dollar amounts awarded to a tort victim are directly related to the amount of injury they suffered at the hands of another. As much as criminal law is designed to act as a deterrent to criminal wrongdoers, tort law is intended to act as a deterrent to civil wrongdoers by providing a true representation of harm in the form of monetary compensation for a victim. It was not the victim’s fault that he or she was injured, yet the consequences of the actions of another likely have changed their lives forever.
If you or a loved one has been injured and have questions about whether you have a potential case, call the Law Offices of Robert T. Edens, P.C. today to speak to one of our Vernon Hills legal professionals. Our lawyers can provide you with answers, or represent you if needed to help you on your path to recovery.