What Types of Cases Does a Personal Injury Lawyer Handle?
I field a great many interesting inquiries from prospective clients. The start of many of these conversations is “what types of cases do you handle” or “do you handle “_____________” type of case”? To be sure the practice of law is divided into practice areas, or case types, or areas of law by both lawyers in non-lawyers.
For example, I handle cases in the practice areas of personal injury, workers compensation, criminal defense, and general civil litigation, as well as motor vehicle accident cases and insurance disputes.
Other lawyers may handle copyright claims or intellectual property disputes or family law cases, or employment discrimination matters. From my perspective, the core practice area for a personal injury attorney is that of the negligence-based to claim. By this, I Attorney Eric T. Kirk mean a claim based on allegations that a person committed an act of negligence that led to injury and damages being sustained by another individual.
Most personal injury claims are premised on this theory or a variation of it. Now, motor vehicle accident cases are a substantial subdivision of the general personal injury case type. The typical car accident case involves the contention that another driver failed to adhere to a rule of the road, or committed another act of negligence leading to an accident. Another commonly occurring subset of the overall personal injury case type is one in which a dangerous or defective condition on a property leads to personal injury. An additional common subdivision of the general personal injury category is that of products liability. Here, a consumer good is either inherently dangerous, designed in such a way, or malfunctions so as to cause personal injury to another.
Some commentators might suggest that medical malpractice, specifically, or professional malpractice, more generally, is also a subset of personal injury law. Because of the level of specialized experience and particularized knowledge needed to navigate a medical malpractice claim, I would suggest that medical malpractice be treated as a distinct practice area. Some lawyers may suggest that workers compensation claims are also a subdivision of a larger personal injury practice area. There’s clearly some overlap between the two disciplines. One notable exception in the context of workers’ compensation is that proof of negligence is not required. Some personal injury lawyers also handle civil assault and battery claims, which are not premised on negligence, but rather on intent.