Personal Injury

Have questions about what a personal claim is and how it works? Read our guide to learn everything you must know (and more) about personal injurylawsuits, settlements, and more!

What is Personal Injury?

Personal injury is a legal term used to describe the damage caused to an individual by another person, entity, or organization. The injury can be physical, emotional or mental trauma, causing harm to the reputation of the individual, invading the privacy of the individual, or false accusation, arrest, or imprisonment.

The most common reason for a personal injury is negligence from the opposite party, although any intentional wrong done to cause physical or mental harm also constitutes the same.

What Type of Case Is a Personal Injury Claim?

The following are some of the most common types of personal injury cases:

  • Road or vehicle accidents
  • Assault of any kind
  • Workplace harassment
  • Injury due to a product or service, due to poor quality or intentional deficit
  • Medical negligence or malpractice of any kind
  • Any form of intentional action that causes mental trauma or invades the privacy of an individual

What Are General Damages In Personal Injury?

There are different kinds of damages involved in a personal injury case. These are: General Damages, Special Damages, and Punitive Damages

  • General Damages: Commonly known as ‘Pain & Suffering’, this refers to the compensation that is in place to requite the victim for any non-monetary injury, i.e., without any economic loss. This means the injury can be emotional distress or mental trauma, and it is not easy to quantify the loss. Therefore, finalizing an appropriate compensation for general damages is often a challenge. An example of general damage is when a victim has suffered a loss of reputation and has been unfairly disrespected.
  • Special Damages: Refers to compensation in a case where there is a monetary loss on the victim’s end. The amount to be compensated is easier to calculate and is done so using bills and other forms of proof. An example of special damage includes damage to a property of an individual.
  • Punitive Damages: This happens when the victim has suffered due to negligence or any form of reckless behavior from the defendant and is punishable. Punitive damage is given in addition to when the court finds the defendant’s action to be grossly unacceptable.

Personal Injury definition glossary term

What Is the Difference Between Personal Injury and Bodily Injury?

The difference between bodily injury and personal injury:

  • Bodily injury is when a person is held responsible for the harm caused to another, usually in accidents resulting in bruises, burns, broken bones, or any other physical trauma. If insurance provides compensation for bodily injury, the amount is intended to cover physical injury expenses & similar loss of the victim.
  • Personal injury refers to any form of injury harm caused by a first or third party towards another person.

How Often do Personal Injury Claims Go to Court?

Very often, cases related to personal injury are settled out of court, usually with negotiations between the parties. Only a small percentage of such cases appear in court. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, only 4-5% of such cases reach a trial.

How Do I File a Personal Injury Claim?

Although most lawsuits get settled outside the court, here are some ways you can prepare to file a personal injury claim.

  • Get the required medical care
  • Obtain all necessary medical bills and paperwork to substantiate the claim
  • Consider if you need a personal injury lawyer or not
  • Conduct a thorough investigation and research on the incident and the case
  • Collect proof of negligence
  • Send legal notice to the defendant
  • Initiate settlement talks. If it doesn’t work, proceed with the lawsuit

How Much Is the Average Personal Injury Settlement?

The compensation for a personal injury claim can vary based on the nature of the incident, claim, and more. However, some studies show that the average amount a victim has received is up to $24,000.

How Long Do Most Personal Injury Cases Take To Settle?

Although the duration will vary from one lawsuit to another, the average settlement time can take anywhere from a few months to two years for personal injury cases to resolve.

What Is a Deposition In a Personal Injury Case?

Deposition refers to a person, such as a witness or a lawyer, appearing before a court of law at a designated time to give sworn testimony.

Similarly, in a personal injury case, a deposition is used to collect crucial information and evidence on the case, establish negligence on the defendant’s part, and understand the nature behind the accident or injury.

Is There a Statute of Limitations On Personal Injury?

The standard Statute of Limitations on personal injury cases varies from one state to another. For example, the Statute of Limitations in California is 2 years, while in North Dakota, it is 6 years.

Typically, the Statute of Limitations can vary between 1 year to 6 years. In the case of minors, the time will be extended, tolled, until they turn 18.

It must also be noted that most states have a “Discovery Rule” exception to the standard period assigned.

This usually comes into play when the victim was completely unaware of the injury and did not find it until a later period and had no way to ascertain an injury had occurred in the first place.

Are Personal Injury Settlements Taxable?

Generally, the proceeds a victim receives from a personal injury claim are exempted from tax. This is applicable for both one-time payments and recurring payments.

For instance, under the 26 U.S. Code § 104(a)(2), compensation that you recover for your medical expenses for your physical injuries is excluded from your gross income and is generally not taxable by the IRS or the State of California.

Can You Lose a Personal Injury Claim?

Yes, there are many reasons you can lose a personal injury case. Some of the reasons why you could lose include the following:

  • Contributory negligence: When you have a role to play in the incident, it is regarded as negligence
  • Misrepresentation of the truth either by exaggerating the facts or testifying falsely
  • Lack of evidence & documentation
  • Anything one posts on social media related to the case can be used against them in court
  • Speculations & misstatements: When you don’t know a detail, it is better to voice it out on the court, or the defense can use it against you.
  • Playing down on the injuries and minimalizing it
  • Going past the Statute of Limitations period
  • Not having legal help or not giving the necessary information to your lawyer to make a firm case.

Can I Represent Myself In a Personal Injury Case?

It is possible to represent yourself in a personal injury lawsuit. However, there are some instances where this is not applicable, such as filing a case against a corporation, filing a class-action lawsuit, or representing on behalf of your child.

What Questions Should I Ask a Personal Injury Lawyer?

Here are some questions you can ask your lawyer before proceeding with them on a personal injury case:

  • Fee for their services
  • Experience in handling personal injury cases
  • If they have handled cases similar to yours, and the outcome
  • Their thoughts on the nature of your case
  • The time they can devote to your case and how to stay updated on the progress
  • How much is your claim worth, according to them?


Written by Aaron R. Winston
Last Updated: September 20, 2023 10:45am CDT