Injuries can be devastating, both financially and emotionally. If someone else was at fault for your injury, you might need to file a personal injury lawsuit to get the negligent party or their insurance to pay for your medical expenses and lost wages. In legal cases, personal injury is when one person was injured because another person was negligent. This definition can cover a range of incidents. Personal injury damages also include compensation for pain and suffering, permanent physical impairment, and disfigurement. If you're looking to pursue a personal injury case, working with an experienced injury attorney can help you recover significantly more compensation compared to doing it yourself.
How Is Personal Injury Defined and Which Cases Qualify?
Personal injury is defined as a legal case where you are injured because of another person's negligence. In a personal injury lawsuit, you seek financial compensation for your injuries. Personal injury cases are usually based on negligence rather than deliberate wrongdoing.
Cases that are typically considered personal injury include:
- Car accidents
- Dog bites
- Injuries caused by medical malpractice
- Injuries caused by a defective product
- Injuries caused by unsafe conditions on someone's property
- Some injuries incurred at work
- Wrongful deaths
These are the general categories that fit the definition of personal injury, but any situation when you were injured because another person or group was negligent can qualify.
Personal Injury vs. Criminal Defense
A personal injury lawsuit falls under the categorization of civil cases. Civil and criminal law overlap, but there are some crucial differences. Criminal cases are considered offenses against society, while civil cases are between two private parties. Your civil personal injury lawsuit pursues financial damages, while a criminal conviction can result in jail or prison time, probation, or a fine. A prosecutor brings criminal charges against a defendant. In contrast, your civil case would be a separate proceeding filed in a civil court. As the injured person, you would be the plaintiff and, therefore, the person initiating a civil lawsuit.
Sometimes, there can be a civil and a criminal case for the same incident. When this happens, you will go through two separate legal proceedings. For example, if you sustained an injury in a car accident caused by a drunk driver, the drunk driver would probably be facing criminal charges. However, you could also pursue a personal injury suit to get compensation for your injuries. This situation involving two parallel cases also sometimes happens in wrongful death cases. The state might bring murder or manslaughter charges, while the victim's family might also pursue a separate civil lawsuit.
The standards of proof are much higher for a criminal case than a personal injury case, meaning that a person found not guilty of a crime could still be successfully sued by the victim for civil damages. A criminal conviction requires proof beyond a reasonable doubt, which is the highest standard of proof that we have in our justice system. A civil suit only requires proof by a preponderance of the evidence. It is a much lower standard that requires only proof that it's more-likely-than-not that the defendant's negligence caused the claimed injuries, damages and losses.
The Benefits That Can Be Recovered Through a Personal Injury Claim
Most personal injury cases settle before trial, so you will usually receive compensation for your damages when your case settles. If your case reaches trial, you will be awarded damages if the verdict goes in your favor. Personal injury damages can cover any of these categories:
- Medical bills
- Lost wages
- Pain and suffering
- Permanent impairment
- Punitive damages
Medical expenses and lost wages are both the most straightforward and the most common. These are financial damages, so the court or the negotiating parties can easily set a number for compensation. Pain and suffering result from the physical and emotional distress you experienced because of your injuries. Since this is compensation for subjective harm, getting this can be more complicated. Permanent physical impairment refers to debilitating injuries that are not expected to fully heal. Disfigurement refers to physical changes to your appearance. As for punitive damages, these are rare in personal injury cases. This type of compensation is extra money the defendant would be required to pay as a penalty for gross negligence, recklessness, or intentional criminal conduct. Punitive damages are considered punishment damages and are often asserted in DUI cases and intentional assaults. Punitive damages can also be asserted in cases of repeated defamation, cyber bullying, and revenge porn.
Personal Injury Lawyers in Denver and Northern Colorado
If you have been injured due to someone else's negligence, hiring an experienced personal injury lawyer will give you the best chance of recovering the full compensation your claim deserves. Our legal team focuses exclusively on personal injury cases. We have the expertise you need to get top results for your claim.
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