What is New York Personal Injury Law?
The term “personal injury law” refers to the set of rules, precedents, and procedures that allows accident victims to obtain financial compensation for their injuries and suffering. It is a highly specialized field that requires the help of skilled a New York City personal injury attorney.
The basics of personal injury law
Our system of justice falls into two broad categories: criminal law and civil law. The easiest way to understand the difference between the two is by considering the penalties that each entail.
For example, murder cases are the domain of criminal law. Someone who is suspected of murder is arrested, tried, and, if found guilty, sentenced to prison.
Civil law differs from criminal law in that the liable person or organization must make restitution to the injured party. Typically, this compensation comes in the form of a financial fee set by the court and awarded to the victim.
For example, let’s say that you’re walking through a food market one day when you slip on a wet spot. You’re rushed to the hospital and diagnosed with severe bruises and a broken leg.
You believe that the store owner is liable for your injuries since they failed to clean up the spill. In such a case, you have the option of taking the other party to civil court.
If your case prevails, then the judge or jury will order the store owner to compensate you for the damagesyou incurred. These can include the cost of your medical care, the impact of the accident on your quality of life, and the salary or wages you lost because you can’t work.
Guilty versus liable, torts versus crimes
Moreover, the integrity of our legal system rests upon making a clear distinction between criminal and civil cases. These differences include the terminology used in both types of law.
The defendant in a criminal matter is accused of committing a crime, whereas the defendant in a civil proceeding is accused of committing a tort. If the court determines that the criminal defendant committed the crime, then they are pronounced guilty.
On the other hand, if a civil court declares that the defendant caused harm to the plaintiff, then they are pronounced liable.
“Guilty beyond a reasonable doubt” versus “liable for damages”
Another major distinction between criminal and civil law is the standard of proof demanded by the court. In criminal proceedings, it’s essential to prove that the defendant is guilty “beyond a reasonable doubt.”
This standard was put in place to protect innocent people. Without this important safeguard, a zealous prosecutor could send people to jail or prison based upon flimsy or circumstantial evidence.
In civil proceedings, the outcome is based on which side proves its case with a “preponderance of the evidence.” Roughly speaking, this means that whichever side presents the most cogent and well-substantiated argument generally prevails.
To illustrate, let’s return to our earlier example about the food market. The plaintiff’s attorney may present eyewitness testimony that the spill was present for an extended period, that the owner knew it was there and failed to do anything about it. Based on this evidence, the plaintiff has a good chance of obtaining compensation.
Civil law is a complex topic that goes far beyond the basics we’ve outlined in this post. If you’re suffering due to the negligence or oversight of others, then we urge you to get in touch with a New York City personal injury lawyer today. Skilled legal representation is your best shot at getting the compensation you deserve.
Contact us today at Douglas and London for a free consultation
Here at Douglas and London, our experienced personal injury lawyers have recovered more than $4 billion for our clients over the years. We offer free consultations and contingency terms, so you’ll never have to worry about paying out-of-pocket fees. Our extensive experience in handling personal injury cases makes us the natural choice for New York accident victims. Contact us today. Someone from our office is available 24/7 for your convenience.