Personal injury is misunderstood. Wikipedia doesn’t help. Although the debate continues over the reliability of Wikipedia–schools telling kids not to cite it and others saying it’s as good as the Encyclopedia Britannica–the fact is that today, Wikipedia’s entry on “personal injury” does not help persons who are injured understand their rights. Indeed, the only external resource listed is a website outside the United States. You’d have to be a personal injury lawyer inside the U.S. to realize that much of what is said does not come from a firm that is licensed here. What’s posted is misleading and incomplete.

The worst error is equating personal injuries with accidents. They are not the same. Accidents occur without fault. If you go around thinking lawyers get liability insurers and corporations to pay out big money when there’s no evidence of fault, you’ve got it wrong. We’ve got to be ready to prove someone broke the rules, sold a dangerous product, created a hazardous condition, or was otherwise legally responsible.

If you’re the injured party, and you’ve suffered real injuries that might be compensable, talk to a qualified personal injury lawyer. Do it fast. Depending on your situation, there may only be a narrow window of time within which to make your claim.

Many legislatures, in Maryland and nationally, have enacted laws to pay some claims without regard to fault. Workers’ compensation is one. PIP, or personal injury protection insurance, is another type of fault-free payment. No-fault laws apply in different ways in different states. There’s a lot of expensive arguing going on about whether such schemes are good or bad, should apply or shouldn’t apply, go too far, or don’t go far enough. Here’s one thing Wikipedia gets right: it can get complicated. Even in those cases where no fault is required, you’re best served by consulting a personal injury lawyer first.

Bottom line: if injured and suffering real losses, ask a personal injury lawyer about your rights. But maybe you’re thinking, “It’s okay, I’ve got sick pay, health insurance and car insurance,” or “I’ve already told my boss and he says I’m covered by workers’ comp.” Don’t wallow in the mud of false complacency. Consult an experienced personal injury lawyer right away.

For more information check out our free (and reliable) online resources. Better yet, pick up the phone. Leave Wikipedia to the web surfers and the pundits.