Questions Of Law Vs. Questions Of Fact In Injury Cases

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Your Case. Your Attorneys. Every day, people are injured in accidents and scenarios that are not their fault. In many of these situations, the injured party is due compensation for their injuries and the associated medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. To help them recover these damages, they hire a specific type of attorney known as a personal injury attorney. Personal injury law is unique and nuanced. Proving that you are not at fault for the incident and that you deserve compensation can be difficult, which is why you really need the help of these professionals. Learn more about personal injury attorneys and their jobs on this website.


When a personal injury attorney assembles a claim or prepared a lawsuit, they have to think about how the other side might refute their client's case. Generally, defendants can lean on one of two possible arguments. They can raise questions of law or they can challenge the facts. Let's examine why this might be important to your case.

What Are Questions of Law and Fact?

A question of law is one that takes issue with whether the law says the defendant had a responsibility to prevent the plaintiff's injuries from happening. For example, someone walking past a house on fire doesn't have a legal obligation to save anyone who might be inside the building. This is because they haven't entered into any sort of arrangement that obliges them. Conversely, an auto accident attorney can easily argue that all drivers accept a duty to prevent people in other vehicles the moment they head out on the road.

Questions of fact, on the other hand, involve overtly challenging the plaintiff's version of events. Suppose a customer slipped and fell on a wet spot in a store. The customer claims there wasn't a "Wet Floor" sign to warn them, but the store's employees say they did, in fact, but out several signs. A court would have to make a determination of fact before the plaintiff might get compensation.

Tackling Questions of Law

Much of the difference between the two approaches hinges on a personal injury attorney argues the case. With a question of law, the attorney wants to show that the law is on their side. They might cite appeals court precedents that show similarly defendants were found liable.

Sometimes these cases involve a lot of hair-splitting. Suppose a weather-related case involves a force majeure claim, meaning the defendant says the weather made it impossible to protect the plaintiff from injury. At what point is that true? For example, the law expects shop owners to clear sidewalks of ice, but what if the ice storm occurred 30 seconds before the plaintiff was hurt? How long after a storm does the shop owner have before a reasonable person would expect them to clean the ice from the sidewalk?

Fighting on Questions of Fact

This type of case is easier to understand. A personal injury attorney will present police and medical reports, videos, photos, and eyewitness testimony to explain how the facts are on their client's side. The discovery process also allows the lawyer to force the defendant to produce any evidence they might have, such as surveillance or texts.

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