So maybe you've heard the phrase "personal injury" or "personal injury attorney" and you're wondering: what is personal injury law?
Put simply, personal injury law covers any type of injury to a person. Examples include workers' compensation, medical malpractice, auto accidents, and falls.
If you have been injured and you believe that someone else is at fault, you would hire a personal injury lawyer. It is the lawyer's job to gather evidence which demonstrates injury (called non-economic loss) and loss of past and future wages or profits (economic loss). The lawyer will also gather evidence showing that the defendant was negligent, which basically means that they acted carelessly compared to what an "ordinary" person would have done in the same circumstances.
Since litigation is costly and time-consuming, a personal injury lawyer has an obligation to try to settle the case. If they cannot do this, suit is filed.
When suit is filed, the defendant must provide an answer which sets forth their version of the facts and any defenses they have. After the answer is filed, discovery ensues.
Discovery includes the answering of interrogatories, which are questions answered in writing by each party about their version of the facts of the case. Discovery also includes depositions. A deposition is an out-of-court oral testimony of a witness. The witness swears to tell the truth, just like they would at trial. The transcript of a deposition then becomes part of the evidence in the case and can be used at trial.
After discovery, the case proceeds to trial. In a personal injury case, either the plaintiff or defendant may request that the trial be decided by a jury. Otherwise, a judge will decide the case. During trial, your attorney may make arguments, present evidence, and call witnesses to establish your case. Of course, the defendant's attorney will be trying to do the same for their client.
If your lawyer is successful in establishing the defendant's negligence, you may receive a monetary award. The amount of this award will depend on the severity of your injuries and the lasting impact they have had on your life.
In a personal injury case in New Jersey, most attorneys are only paid a fee if they win the case either by settlement or after trial. This is called a contingency fee. The fee is set by the court in a publication called "The New Jersey Rules of Court" and is currently 33 1/3% for any recovery up to $500,000.00. The fee percentage goes down after $500,000.00
If you've been injured and you believe that someone else is at fault, you should immediately seek the services of an experienced personal injury attorney who can help you get proper compensation for your injuries. I have almost three decades of experience in handling personal injury cases. You can contact me via email, call me at (908) 232-2040, or visit my firm's website.