We all experience accidents in life — a minor (or major) car accident on the highway or a trip or fall in a store. There’s no way to prevent every possible accident or injury. But what about when you’re in an accident through no fault of your own? What do you do if, through no fault of your own, you’ve been hurt?
When you find yourself in this situation, you’ve suffered a personal injury because of someone’s negligence, misconduct, or recklessness. What exactly does that mean and what can you do when that happens? Let’s look at the definition of personal injury and personal injury lawsuits.
Defining Personal Injury
A personal injury is the legal term used when you suffer an injury to your body, mind, or emotional well being. Most important, the accident is someone else’s fault. This doesn’t count property damage that may happen, even in the same accident.
Personal injuries occur in countless ways. Here are just a few of the most common types of injuries:
- Auto accidents: This is the most common personal injury claim.
- Trips, slips, and falls: These usually occur at businesses but not exclusively.
- Work accidents: A personal injury claim may or may not be separate from a workers’ compensation claim.
- Use of defective products, whether there was a recall or not
- Animal bites, usually but not always dog bites
- Injuries to your emotional and/or mental health: Injuries caused by a physical injury or the purposeful infliction of emotional and mental distress.
- Medical and dental accidents: These may or may not lead to medical negligence claims later.
- Industrial disease cases: Becoming sick or injured during specific kind of work or working in a specific industry
Understanding Personal Injury Lawsuits
When you’ve been the victim of a personal injury, you might want to sue — especially if your medical costs are high or you’re out of work. If you sue and win, you’ll be awarded “damages.” This is the money you’re paid from the person or company who’s responsible for the accident. You can receive damages for multiple reasons.
- Payment for medical bills
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Loss of wages
- Diminished quality of life
- And more
In order to win a personal injury lawsuit, your injury has to have happened for a specific reason. The most common reasons are negligence, gross negligence, intentional misconduct, reckless conduct, or strict liability.
Negligence: When a person or entity fails in their “duty of care”, they may be negligent with regards to a personal injury.
Gross Negligence: While negligence is not taking care of or meeting responsibilities, gross negligence adds in recklessness or a conscious disregard for safety or outcomes.
Intentional Misconduct: This means that the person or entity knew that an injury was likely probably and kept doing it anyway. This might be selling a product, not taking care of a problem, or performing a specific course of action, to name a few examples.
Reckless Conduct: Reckless conduct occurs when the person or entity knows or should have known that something could cause potential personal injury.
Strict Liability: While it occurs in multiple ways, strict liability happens when the other party engages in reckless, unlawful, or dangerous behavior. In auto accidents, it’s when the driver who injured you violated a traffic law. In cases involving products, it refers to defective products that caused the injury.
While auto accidents are the most common form of personal injury, they aren’t the only possible injuries that you may experience. If you’ve been hurt in an accident and the other person was at fault, you may have a personal injury case. The only way to know for sure is to discuss your situation with a personal injury attorney. Contact our office for a consultation to discuss the details of your accident. You don’t have to deal with this alone.