The Basics
At any moment in America, millions of people are driving, walking, shopping, traveling and playing, so it is no wonder that accidents and injuries have become an inevitable part of life. The fact that mishaps are fairly commonplace does not detract from the pain and confusion that can result when an accident or injury happens to you or a loved one. This is especially true when the harm could have been avoided if others had not acted carelessly. If you decide to take steps toward protecting your legal rights after an accident or injury, you may have a number of general questions about “personal injury” cases.

“Personal injury” cases are legal disputes that arise when one person suffers harm from an accident or injury that someone else caused.  That other party can be a person or a business. A personal injury case is a “civil” matter, (vs. a “criminal” matter), and the burden of proving the other party’s negligence is left to the injured party. In today’s world most personal injury claims involve insurance companies. If you are injured in an auto collision you will have to deal with the negligent party’s insurance carrier and not the individual driver. These insurance companies are well staffed and have experience in minimizing the after affects of a negligent client’s behavior. For that reason, many people chose to have an attorney represent their interests.

What is “Negligence”?
Generally speaking, when someone acts in a careless way and causes an injury to another person the careless person is considered “negligent” and will be legally “liable” for any resulting harm. Specifically, in Personal Injury claims the plaintiff (the person injured) must show the following things:
· That the defendant (the person supposedly at fault) owed a legal duty of care to the plaintiff under the circumstances
· That the defendant failed to fulfill (“breached”) that legal duty through conduct or action (this can include a failure to act)
· That the defendant caused an accident or injury involving the plaintiff
· That the defendant harmed or injured the plaintiff as a result.

Insurance companies do not want you to get help from an experienced attorney. The University of Massachusetts at Amherst has studied techniques used by a major nationwide insurance company. They were able to obtain actual claims-handling training manuals where the insurance company revealed that people who file claims with the assistance of experienced attorneys settle for two to three times more than those who are unrepresented!! With that in mind the claims adjusters are taught to keep injured parties from contacting an attorney.

If you have suffered harm as a result of an accident or injury, you may be entitled to receive economic recovery from those who are at fault. What you can recover will depend upon the kind of damages you experienced because of the accident or injury — both during and after the incident. In some cases, your family members may also be entitled to recover, to the extent that your injury affected their relationship with you.