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The Basics of Personal Injury Law

Aug 2, 14

Personal injury cases can arise from a variety of situations, yet some of the basic components that structure many personal injury cases develop in a similar manner.

Basis for a Personal Injury Case

Personal injuries are most often caused by automobile accidents, whether involving another vehicle, pedestrian, bicyclist, one-vehicle rollover etc. Personal Injuries may also result from a slip, trip or a fall (premise liability), farm related activity, defective products, a failure to warn, wrongful death or medical malpractice. Please refer to our list of personal injury practice areas. Cases that arise from these types of injuries are generally tried under broad negligence laws; wherein the injured party has the burden to prove that another party (the wrongdoer) caused their injuries and is therefore, liable. 

Strict liability holds designers and manufacturers liable for injuries that result from defective products. These cases aim to demonstrate that a product was designed or created in a manner that made it unreasonably dangerous to use it as intended. Under the strict liability rule, injured plaintiffs have to prove the product caused them harm, resulting in an injury, but they do not have to prove exactly how the designer or manufacturer was careless leading up to the injury.

Elements to Prove

Time is essential in a personal injury case. A claim should be promptly reported, either to law enforcement, the responsible party, or the responsible party’s insurance carrier. A lawsuit must be filed within the specified time frame pursuant to the state’s statute of limitations in order for the case to move forward by way of the litigation process. 

There are four elements that must be proven true in a personal injury case alleging negligence:

  • There must be a presence of a duty to conform to a certain standard of conduct. 
  • There must be a breach of that duty.
  • The breach of duty caused harm or injury.
  • That the breach of duty was the proximate cause of the injury.


While you should speak to an experienced personal injury attorney to help you preserve your rights and guide you through the filing of a personal injury claim, there are steps that you can take to support your claim and help meet the negligence elements mentioned above. It is helpful if you document the facts of your injury by collecting evidence, taking pictures, journaling dates, times, descriptions and activity, as well as keeping all of your relevant medical records and bills.

Legal Results

The legal remedy for a majority of personal injury cases involves a monetary award to the injured as a recovery for their loss and costs directly associated with an injury. The amount compensated or awarded depends on a variety of factors in the case, including injury severity, medical bills, pain, suffering, lost wages, future medical treatment, scarring, disfigurement, and how the injury has impacted your lifestyle and ability to work now and in the future.

Do you need a lawyer to help with a personal injury case?

Injury lawsuits often involve highly technical legal concepts, paired with an understanding of the facts and nuances of a case. Proving negligence is the cornerstone of a successful personal injury case. If you are unsure as to whether your injury was caused by negligence, speak with an attorney as soon as possible that specializes in personal injury. Janklow Law has more than 50 years of successful experience representing personal injury plaintiffs. Call our firm today to schedule a free consultation.

It is great to work with the attorneys at Johnson, Janklow, and Abdallah. They always provide excellent advice and service that is second to none.

Mike Miller | former NBA player

The lawyers at Johnson, Janklow, and Abdallah are consistently ranked as the top business lawyers in the state. Our business can always count on them to aggressively fight for our rights and provide straight-forward advice on complex issues.

Mark McNeary | Primrose Retirement Communities, LLC

Lawyers from Johnson, Janklow, and Abdallah regularly participate in legal education by judging intramural student skills competitions; helping prepare our nationally competitive litigation skills teams; serving or leading the South Dakota State Bar's Law School Committee; and, from time to time , providing guest lecturers. The Law School is grateful for the generous participation of lawyers like those from Johnson, Janklow, and Abdallah.

Tom Geu | former Dean, USD School of Law