What is Personal Injury?


Personal injury is a term widely used, but often misunderstood.

Personal injury is a legal term used in the legal profession to describe an injury to the body and mind, earning capacity and loss of the enjoyment of life; as well as associated damages to property.
The Personal Injury that is most often addressed is a type of tort lawsuit alleging that the injured party, (referred to in legal terms as the plaintiff) sustained injuries caused by the negligence of another, (referred to in legal terms as the defendant).

A personal injury claim can also arise and is also used to describe litigation that arises out of slander or defamation torts.

Personal Injury Damages may include bodily injury, psychological injury arising from the intentional infliction of emotional distress and negligent infliction of emotional distress. Damage to Property, Loss of Employment/income, Loss of enjoyment of life, Loss of Life expectancy. Damage to reputation.


The most common types of personal injury claims are associated with traffic accidents, accidents at work, tripping accidents, assault claims, accidents in the home, product defect accidents (product liability) and holiday accidents and work related (repetitive strain)injury cases.

Depending upon the intent or negligence of a responsible party, the injured party may be entitled to monetary compensation from that party. The compensation is achieved through either a settlement or a judgment.

Attorneys most often represent clients on a “contingent fee basis.” In a contingency fee arrangement, the attorney’s fee is a percentage of the plaintiff’s eventual compensation. The fee is only earned when the case is resolved favorably there is no fee if the case is unsuccessful.


Damage can be categorized either as Special, or as General. The law states that Special Damages are measurable costs which can be itemized such as medical expenses, or loss of earnings, or property damages. On the other hand, General Damages are those less measurable costs such as Pain and/or Suffering or, Loss of Consortium or, Emotional Distress. Personal injury torts can result in both Special and General Damages.

The amount of compensation an injured person receives in a personal injury case will primarily depend on the severity of their injury. Serious injuries, such as broken bones, severed limbs or brain damage which all cause intense physical pain and suffering often receive the highest compensation.

Aside from compensation for injuries, the injured party and/or family members may also get compensation for the lifetime effects of the injury or injuries.

Filing a Lawsuit – Time Limitation

Statutes of Limitations determine how much time you have to file a claim. In the state of Louisiana, for example, most injury claims must be filed within one year of the date of the injury.

Lawsuit and Payment

Payments are usually made once a settlement agreement is reached, or a judgment is secured after a trial. Settlements can be either a lump-sum or a structured settlement in which the payments are made over a period of time.


In the United States, personal injuries are often covered by liability insurance such as auto insurance. Therefore the insurance company must provide a legal defense to the person sued. The insurance company will also evaluate the severity of the injuries to the plaintiff. Frequently when the cause of the accident is clear and the injuries well documented, the insurance company will offer the injured party an amount of money to bring the case to closure. This is known as reaching a “settlement.”

Knowing what your injury “is worth” and the “odds of your prevailing” in a trial are two of the most important skills an experienced personal injury attorney provides to their client.

Remember, this is not intended as legal advice; instead we are seeking to provide you with a general idea of what happens in a very complicated process.

Please call us. We are here to help you make wise decision and to protect your rights.