While we work with clients dealing with many different issues covering all walks of life, one of the most common questions we hear is, “Do I have a personal injury case?”
Today, we’ll walk you through what counts as personal injury, why it’s important to know the statute of limitations for your state, and what sets personal injury apart from many of the other legal areas we work in.
Simply put, a case is considered ‘personal injury’ when one person suffers harm (generally physical, although in some cases emotional harm will also be considered) from either injury or accident, and another person may be held legally responsible for it. The accident or injury does not have to be committed with malicious intent. Even someone who means well may cause harm to someone in a way that they are legally responsible or liable for.
This is what sets personal injury law apart from other areas like Worker’s Compensation or Business Litigation — most of what we understand about personal injury law doesn’t come from formal state statutes, but from the decisions made in prior, similar cases in the past.
While many states have worked to formalize the precedents that have been set over time, in the end much of the law we use to pursue personal injury cases continues to be based on prior legal rulings, called case or common law, rather than any official state statute.
Generally, yes, there is. The statute of limitations varies not only from case to case, depending on its subject, but also from state to state. Here is a helpful article with a table listing the different statutes of limitation for different issues here in South Carolina, but you’ll note that a common statute of limitations for personal injury is around 3 years either from the date of the accident or injury or from the time the injured person is no longer a minor.
That said, there can be exceptions to that general rule depending on the defendant, when the harm was discovered, or the type of claim involved. The differences between states or even simply between different kinds of cases can vary widely, so it’s important to speak with an attorney familiar with your type of claim as soon after the accident or injury occurs as possible.
Because it’s such a varied area of law, personal injury can cover all kinds of different issues. A few examples include:
You can see a longer list of legal issues that would fall under personal injury here on our website. If you don’t see your issue, that doesn’t mean it’s not personal injury… just that personal injury is such a wide umbrella that it covers too many of our clients’ concerns to easily put in a short list online.
We talked a little bit about the different kinds of resolution that may occur during litigation in an earlier blog. With personal injury cases, this remains largely the same.
The most common resolution to a personal injury case is simply a voluntary settlement. The parties involved and their legal representatives in these cases are able to find a satisfactory conclusion without needing to take it to the courtroom or pursue any further litigation. Generally the act of settling the case will involve negotiation, followed by a document in which the parties agree to not pursue any further action on the case, and the amount of compensation agreed upon, if any.
The other option would be to pursue a lawsuit. These usually take place in civil court, and involve one party alleging that the other party (a person, business, corporation, or government entity) was negligent or in some way responsible for their injury or accident. This document is called a Complaint. The defendant in the case would then file a formal response called an Answer. The parties then conduct Discovery in which they request formal responses to questions called Interrogatories and request the production of documents. The parties can also take Depositions, which is the asking and answering of questions of parties, witnesses, or experts under oath. Settlement discussions can occur throughout this Discovery process and if unsuccessful then the issues raised in the Complaint and Answer will be decided by a judge or jury.
Bluestein Attorneys is here to help in Columbia, South Carolina. Our legal representatives would be happy to sit down with you and discuss the events that occurred, how you were injured, what steps you’ve taken so far, and help you look at your options to decide what you should do next. You can schedule your FREE consultation either by clicking the banner below or giving us a call at (803) 779-7599 at any time.