Man who fell at construction site

What Does “Personal Injury” Mean?

Personal injury is a specialization of law that deals with compensation for people who have been injured in some way.

At its most basic, the term “personal injury” means physical, emotional or mental harm to an individual and not his or her possessions. This means that if an individual were to slip and fall while visiting the home of an acquaintance, they could be due personal injury compensation for a broken leg but not a broken watch. Personal injury also does not apply to damage to a person’s reputation, which is covered by slander and libel laws.


Often, personal injury implies accidental injury through negligence, such as when someone is injured in an automotive accident by another driver who was not paying attention. Another example is failure to repair a cracked step outside a business that results in a customer tripping and falling.

However, personal injury cases can also not be accidental. Assault claims are also personal injury cases, in addition to any crime the assailant might be charged with. Personal injury itself is related to civil law. Any crime will be tried in a criminal court instead. Most personal injury cases do not involve arrest, although bail bonds can be obtained for anyone who cannot afford to post his or her bail.

Most personal injury cases do not even go to trial, and are informally settled out of court between parties such as the plaintiff (the individual seeking compensation), the defendant (the individual or organization the case is being filed against), the insurance companies and the lawyers representing both sides. A settlement usually involves negotiation as well as an agreement to not pursue any further legal action. Other cases end up going to court and are eventually decided by a jury. In that case, the plaintiff must present compelling evidence that the defendant was indeed negligent and that negligence led to the injury. Some cases are decided through arbitration processes.

Personal injury is not synonymous with frivolous lawsuits, which seems to be an unfortunate misconception of the general public. In reality, anyone making a personal injury case must be able to decisively prove they were injured and that their injuries were caused by another person. It is also true that what part (if any) the plaintiff played in causing his or her own injury is seriously considered by the courts. Personal injury settlements for large amounts are typically rare, hence why they get significant coverage when they do happen. There are also typically limits to what exactly can be awarded for personal injury, usually by the amount insurance companies are willing to pay out in claims.

Like with other areas of law, there are different specializations of personal injury practice. Personal injury cases can involve road accidents, slip and fall, work accidents, intentional injury, product liability and medical negligence. Different personal injury attorneys tend to specialize in a particular area or two because the relevant laws are quite different for each type of case.

Personal injury can be highly complex and dependent on a number of factors. Insurance and medical bills usually come into play just as much as the legal process does. Most businesses, homeowners and renters have a level of liability insurance that protects them in case a visitor is injured accidentally, and so personal injury cases and particulars are highly tied into insurance companies. Many insurance companies even require their own lawyers be used in a case where a liability claim is being made.

Medical Coverage

Personal injury compensation can mean coverage of medical bills for physical trauma, as well as coverage of mental and emotional treatment. It can also offer compensation for any decreased quality of life that might be present. Some examples include missed income, medical bills, and other non-financial damages, which are determined by a jury. The goal is ultimately to restore an individual to their state before the injuries occurred as much as possible, and nothing more.

Personal injury is a term that is more complicated than at first glance and is usually a source of confusion for the general public. Nevertheless, it is a form of compensation that protects and compensates hundreds of thousands of people a year when they are hurt intentionally or due to neglect. In the end, that is what personal injury really entails.

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