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What is a Personal Injury Case?

Suffering severe injuries can leave you with hefty medical bills, loss of income, and even a significant impact on the quality of your life. When the negligence or reckless acts of another party caused your injuries, you may be entitled to receive compensation. 

Personal injury cases are legal disputes that arise when one person or entity alleges that another party caused their injuries or damages through reckless and/or negligent actions. Personal injury law is derived from tort law, which means someone who is injured because of the negligent or intentional acts of someone else may be provided compensation.

What are the Most Common Types of Personal Injury Cases?

Personal injury cases may develop from several types of incidents. Some of the most common personal injury cases include: 

  • Car accidents, such as those caused by distracted driving, drunk driving, and reckless driving.
  • Slip and fall accidents, which usually occur when a property owner or manager fails to provide a safe environment (wet floors, uneven surfaces, damaged staircases, etc.) 
  • Medical malpractice, which occurs when a healthcare provider fails to provide the most accurate care. Common types of medical malpractice include surgical errors, medication errors, and misdiagnosis. 
  • Dog bites, especially serious bites that cause infections, scarring, and nerve damage. 
  • Product liability, which are cases that involve defective products (such as toys, medical devices, etc.) that have caused serious injuries. 

The mentioned causes are some of the most common. In fact, it has been reported that in 2019, there were about 4.5 million medically consulted injury cases from motor vehicle accidents. Other personal injury cases may include incidents involving:

  • Airplane accidents
  • Bike accidents
  • Birth injuries
  • Construction accidents
  • Pedestrian accidents
  • Train accidents

What is the Timeline for a Personal Injury Case?

Personal injury cases go through different steps. Though you will learn more about the process for your personal injury case through the expert personal injury attorney you work with, the basic personal injury case timeline includes: 

Consultation with an Attorney

The first step in a personal injury case is always to consult with a dedicated personal injury lawyer. It’s key you sit down with different attorneys for a consultation (which are often free). Get a feel for the lawyer, and make sure they have worked with cases similar to yours. 


The next step in a personal injury case may be investigation. This may be touched on briefly during the initial consultation with your lawyer. The attorney will assess the damages to a plaintiff’s case, and will go on to do further research into the claim to see what evidence is present that could support it. 

Filing a Claim

Filing a claim is what kicks the personal injury case off. The attorney may file a personal injury claim with the liable party’s insurance company. If not, then the personal injury attorney will file a lawsuit in court. 


The discovery process is extensive. This is when both parties gather the evidence to support their own claim. Both sides exchange information and evidence. Some of the tools commonly used in the discovery process are depositions, requests for documents, interrogatories, and any videos or photographs captured of the incident. 


Following the discovery process, the personal injury case may reach a negotiation. This often occurs if during the discovery process, more evidence is brought to light that could support a plaintiff’s claim over the liable party. Negotiations may be attempted to keep the case from proceeding toward a trial. 


In the case that after the discovery process a negotiation cannot be reached, some personal injury cases may proceed to trial. During trial, a judge or jury will hear the evidence presented from both sides and make a decision for the case regarding liability and damages. 

Possible Appeals

If either side disagrees with the outcome, there may be appeals. However, these appeals may be continuously denied if the evidence is strong. When it comes to possible appeals, these are not so common. 

What is the Possible Compensation From Personal Injury Cases?

The important question many people ask is: what is the possible compensation that may be awarded from a personal injury case? Taking into account damages and liability, some of the possible compensations may include: 

  • Medical expenses- One of the usual types of compensation from personal injury cases is to cover the expenses for treating any injuries. This can include ambulance transportation, lab testing, medical devices, medications, and more. 
  • Lost wages- If the injuries from the initial incident have left you unable to return to work or work for a long period of time, those lost wages can impact you and your household. Possible compensation from your personal injury case can be used to cover the lost wages that are a consequence of your injuries. 
  • Property damages- If your property was damaged as a result of the incident, you may be able to receive the necessary compensation. For example, if you were involved in a car accident and your car was significantly damaged, you may be able to use the compensation to take your vehicle to the repair shop. 
  • Non-economic damages- California law acknowledges that not all damages in a personal injury case are financial. You may receive compensation for pain and suffering, mental anguish, and loss of enjoyment or lower quality of life as a result of the incident and injuries obtained. 


What Can You Do After a Personal Injury Incident? 

If you become involved in a car accident, dog bite incident, slip and fall, or other personal injury incident, what do you do? There are a few steps you can take to gather evidence and support for a possible personal injury claim in the future. After a personal injury incident, you should: 

Collect Evidence 

Take photos and videos of the incident scene. These will come in handy later. Also, be sure to get the contact information of any witnesses. Oftentimes, there may be other drivers, pedestrians, etc. at the scene who can become a reference point when it comes to recounting certain events. Collecting evidence, no matter how small, can actually be very beneficial in the long run when filing a personal injury case. 

Call the Police/Seek Medical Attention

Right off the bat, after a personal injury incident, the police should be called. By calling the police, you will be able to get a written in-depth report to reference down the road. In a police report, liability may also be emphasized, making a personal injury case much smoother. Seek medical attention after the incident, even if you feel no pain. Adrenaline may be keeping you from pain symptoms, and by going to a medical provider, you are also getting a written report of injuries sustained. 

Sit Down with a Personal Injury Attorney 

The final step after a personal injury incident is to sit down with an expert personal injury attorney. By working with an experienced professional, you can review your options, assess evidence, discuss possible compensation options, and also have the reassurance of legal representation. Working with a skilled San Diego personal injury lawyer can be comforting as you navigate the legal process of filing a personal injury case for possible compensation for any injuries you may have obtained.

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