Skip to main content

Personal Injury -- Plaintiff Law

Search for an Attorney  

Personal Injury Lawsuits

A personal injury lawsuit is a way for an injury victim to recover money after an accident caused by someone else. A personal injury lawsuit can be used to pay for medical bills, lost wages, and other damages. A personal injury lawyer can help injury victims take on the insurance companies to ensure they get a fair settlement to pay for their losses.

This page has general information about personal injury lawsuits, but there are a lot of specific rules that are determined by the state where the injury occurred. There are different personal injury laws in different states, including deadlines and caps on damages. Talk to a personal injury lawyer in your state to get legal advice about your rights in a personal injury claim.

What Is a Personal Injury Lawsuit?

A personal injury lawsuit is a civil lawsuit where the injured person filing the case (plaintiff) is seeking monetary damages from the liable party (defendant). Most personal injury cases are based on negligence. Negligence is the breach of a duty of care that causes injury or harm to another. Other personal injury lawsuits could be based on strict liability for dangerous products; or injuries caused by intentional harm, like assault.

If the plaintiff shows the defendant is liable for the injuries, they can recover money from the defendant to pay for their losses. In many cases, the parties in the lawsuit will settle the case before it ever goes to court.

Personal injury lawsuits can be very different, depending on the individual circumstances. Lawsuits can be more complex and take more time when they involve a lot of money, have multiple parties, or ask complex legal questions. For more information about what your claim may be like, talk to an experienced personal injury attorney.

Types of Personal Injury Claims

There are many types of personal injury lawsuits based on the cause of the injured party’s accident. Auto accidents are the most common type of personal injury claim, but even car accident cases can differ depending on the injury type. Common types of personal injury claims include:

How Long Do I Have to File a Personal Injury Lawsuit?

There is a limited amount of time to file a personal injury lawsuit. This time limit is known as the statute of limitations. The statute of limitations for a personal injury lawsuit is based on state law, with each state having a deadline for filing a claim in court. There may also be different time limits when the case involves a government agency.

For example, in Rhode Island, the statute of limitations for most personal injury claims is three years from the date of the injury. However, there may be exceptions when the injury victim is a minor or if the injury was discovered at a later time. Make sure you contact a personal injury attorney as soon as possible after an accident to ensure the case is filed in time.

There may also be different time limits for different types of cases. For example, in Mississippi, a personal injury action must be brought within three years of the date of the injury. However, a medical malpractice case has to be filed within two years of the injury or discovery of the injury.

What Damages Can I Get in a Personal Injury Lawsuit?

“Damages” is a legal term for the monetary compensation the plaintiff seeks in a personal injury lawsuit. Damages can include both economic and noneconomic losses. Economic damages may include:

  • Medical expenses
  • Lost wages
  • Loss of earning capacity
  • Continuing costs of medical treatment
  • Property damage

Noneconomic damages are losses that do not always have a set dollar amount. Noneconomic damages are a way to compensate the injury victim for losses caused by:

  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional distress
  • Loss of enjoyment in life
  • Loss of consortium

In some cases, the injury victim can recover punitive damages, intended to punish the defendant. Punitive damages are not common in personal injury lawsuits and may be limited to intentional injuries or willful and wanton behavior.

What Is the Timeline of a Personal Injury Lawsuit?

The timeline of a personal injury lawsuit can depend on many factors, including the type of lawsuit, the severity of the injuries, and how complex the case may be. A simple car accident case may only take a few months, but a complex medical malpractice case involving serious injuries could take years.

A personal injury lawsuit generally starts with filing a complaint in court. The complaint is the legal document that sets out the basis for the claim, the responsible parties, and the damages requested. The defendant then files an answer to respond to the complaint. After the initial filings, the parties may go into discovery, where they exchange information, including depositions, interrogatories, and evidence.

Before a personal injury lawsuit goes to trial, your personal injury attorney can negotiate a settlement offer. A personal injury settlement is an agreement to accept an amount of money in exchange for dropping the lawsuit. Most personal injury cases settle before they go to trial. Settling the case can help you avoid the stress, extra cost, and additional time of a trial.

Do I Need a Personal Injury Lawyer?

There are a lot of benefits to having a personal injury lawyer on your side. You may be able to file a civil lawsuit without an accident lawyer, but you should understand what you are getting into. Civil lawsuits can be complicated, and the process involves a lot of court rules and legal understanding. A lawyer can explain the process, guide you through a personal injury lawsuit, and help you recover an award to compensate you for your losses.

A personal injury lawyer can also represent you in court and deal with the insurance companies and defense lawyers so you can focus on your recovery. An experienced personal injury lawyer understands how to negotiate with insurance companies to get a fair settlement so you can move on after the accident.

Most personal injury attorneys work on a contingency basis. This means that they will not get paid until after they recover an amount of money in a jury award or settlement. Contingency fees allow accident victims and their families to take on insurance companies without paying the legal costs upfront.