The History of Personal Injury Law

Personal injury attorney portland

For nearly as long as humans have had laws, they have had legal ways to deal with personal injury cases. Long before there were truck accidents or you could hire a car accident attorney, there was a need to address the problem of personal injury. There are still workplace injuries and

An Eye for An Eye

The earliest laws, long before people could hire personal injury lawyers, provided for two types of retribution. The first was basically that whatever a person had done to another, the same thing was to be done to them. The second was to allow a victim’s family to exact retribution as they saw fit, up to the limits of whatever the perpetrator had done. Typically, the family could not go further than that. In other words, if someone had blinded another in one eye during a fight, the family of the blinded person could blind one eye of the perpetrator or do some lesser injury, but would not be allowed to also cripple or kill him.

Lawyers in Ancient Greece and Rome

The legal systems of these civilizations allowed for personal injury lawyers of a kind. A person making a complaint was allowed to bring a friend or other companion to help them plead, and gradually “professional companions” knowledgable in local and national laws and capable as rhetoricians would sell their services.

Law Turned Over to the Roman Catholic Church

Church law, or canon law, eventually became the basis of most European laws. To be fair, the earlierest canon law was based on the law codes of the Old Testament, which was one of the earliest and most revolutionary systematic codes of law. It was revolutionary in that assume something other than strength, sex, power, wealth, or position determined who was right and who was wrong. Instead, right and wrong were based on an objective standard that applied to all.
Over time, however, canon law had become about protecting the political power of the Roman Catholic Church, which required that it also defend the position of other political rulers. This meant that power and wealth were most important in deciding who was right and who was wrong, except in England where common law, though of course never perfect, did much more to defend the rights of all, including the weak and poor. English common law is the basis for both American and Canada laws.

The Advent of True Personal Injury Lawyers

Common law attempted to differentiate between events that happened ordinarily, and events that would not normally happen in every-day life and for which some person was responsible. These were the first personal injury cases, and by the late 1600s more people could hire personal injury lawyers of a type and be compensated for injuries done to them by someone else’s negligence.

The Early Modern Era of Personal Injury

It wasn’t until the 1900s that personal injury lawsuits actually became fairly common. In the early days, money would only be awarded for a clearly visible physical injury, and not for any kind of non-physical injury. However, the promotion of personal injury cases was seen as a good thing that gave the poor a chance at getting justice.

Modern Personal Injury

Websites and tv ads now make it simple for people to find good personal injury lawyers. There are now also legal definitions of what a frivolous lawsuit is, and penalities for plaintiffs and personal injury attorneys who bring them. The ultimate goal is justice so that those who are injured can be fairly compensated, yet no one is tempted to bring a lawsuit when there’s no reason to do so.

There have always been those interested in defending the legitimate rights of those who have been injured by others. It’s been a rocky path at times, but personal injury law is an important part of our justice system.

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