What Is Defined As Personal Injury?

Personal injury is a broad term used to describe the damage done to a person’s body, mental health, or reputation by another party. The law then narrows down the type of personal injuries and the potential damages incurred. If you suffered an injury, either because of someone’s negligence or malicious intent, you have the right to seek recovery for your losses. The first step is determining what caused your injury and who is responsible for the damages.

What Are the Types of Personal Injuries Cases?

Personal injury attorneys see cases ranging from motorcycle accidents to claims of slander. This is because injuries to the body, emotional state, and reputation can have significant financial repercussions. Therefore, victims of personal injuries can use the civil court to hold the at-fault party accountable.

Cases With Bodily Injuries

The most common personal injury lawsuits involve some form of an auto accident, including multi-vehicle, single vehicle, pedestrian, motorcycle, and truck accidents. The most dangerous and deadly are often truck accidents and motorcycle accidents. Whether the accident is minor or severe, victims can file a claim or lawsuit as long there are damages. Other common examples of personal injury cases include:

  • Medical malpracticeMedical professionals are legally responsible for meeting a standard of care when treating patients. Malpractice occurs when they either intentionally or negligently breached that duty. The most common types are injuries arising during birth or surgery. These cases are often complex and challenging to prove.
  • Premises liabilitySlip, trip, and fall accidents are the most common type of premises liability cases. Premises liability is a legal concept stating that property owners must maintain safe conditions for anyone present legally on their property.
  • Product liabilityManufacturers in every industry are responsible for ensuring their products are safe for distribution and consumption.
  • Wrongful deathWhen someone dies due to a personal injury, a member of the immediate family or a representative of the deceased’s estate can file a wrongful death suit claiming damages from medical bills, funeral expenses, and their own suffering.
  • Dog bitesDog bites fall under strict liability in most states, meaning anyone bitten by a dog does not have to prove negligence to hold the dog’s owner accountable.
  • Workplace injuryVictims of workplace injuries can typically receive coverage for medical bills and lost income through workers’ compensation insurance. However, more complex cases could lead to a civil lawsuit.

Not all personal injuries involve negligence. Victims of intentional personal injuries, such as assault and battery, can file a civil lawsuit seeking damages. However, there is typically a criminal case to punish the defendant as well.

Cases With Non-Bodily Injuries

Damage to a person’s reputation is also a form of personal injury. For example, suppose someone made a defamatory public statement about you. In that case, you have the right to seek compensation for any losses associated with the damage that statement caused to your reputation. There are two types of defamation:

  1. Slander refers to spoken words defaming someone. This also includes slander per se, which relates to statements presumed to damage the plaintiff.
  2. Libel refers to written defamation about the plaintiff published for others to see.

The damages from a defamation case can refer to actual financial losses, such as damage to the plaintiff’s business or career. However, defaming someone can also cause emotional and psychological harm, another personal injury and potential form of damages.

What Are the Important Legal Components of Personal Injury?

One crucial law to remember in reference to personal injury lawsuits is the statute of limitations. Every type of case has a timeframe in which you can file your claim, and if you fail to file during that time, the court will likely not review your case. For example, the statute of limitations for an auto accident case is three years in most states, but you typically only have two years to file a wrongful death suit.

A critical legal concept in a personal injury case is liability. In cases involving negligence, the plaintiff carries the burden of proof, meaning they must prove the defendant caused the accident by failing to uphold their duty of care to the plaintiff and that the accident resulted in the plaintiff’s injuries. Some cases may result in a determination of shared liability. When both parties share responsibility, the court typically follows the comparative negligence rule to determine how much the plaintiff can receive in compensation.

Comparative Negligence Rule

According to the comparative negligence rule, the plaintiff can receive a portion of the final value of their losses. The court determines an exact percentage of fault to assign to the plaintiff, and that percentage is then removed from compensation. Additionally, there are two types of comparative negligence:

  1. Modified comparative negligence allows the plaintiff to receive a portion of damages no greater than 50% or 51%. Most states are modified comparative negligence states.
  2. Pure comparative negligence allows the plaintiff to receive a portion of damages as small as 1%, meaning they can be as much as 99% responsible for the accident and still receive some compensation.

Only 13 states adhere to the pure comparative negligence rule. A handful of states apply contributory negligence laws to some personal injury cases, such as car accidents. Contributory negligence laws restrict the ability to recover damages only to those with zero fault for the accident.

What Are the Common Recoverable Damages?

The damages from a personal injury case vary depending on the case type and the injury’s severity. The compensatory damages cover the economic and non-economic loss. Examples include:

  • Cost of medical care
  • Cost of any property loss
  • Any psychological harm, including mental anguish, emotional distress, and loss of enjoyment
  • Physical pain and suffering
  • Loss of consortium, meaning any negative impact the injury had on your relationship with your spouse
  • Loss of companionship, common in wrongful death cases
  • Cost of funeral and burial expenses
  • Loss of reputation

There is no average settlement amount from a personal injury case because the amount and value of damages vary significantly. Additionally, you may receive punitive damages in cases where the defendant’s actions were deemed inexcusable.

Why Should You Consider Scheduling a Consultation With a Personal Injury Attorney?

Personal injury lawsuits can become complex. As the plaintiff, you are burdened with the task of presenting sufficient evidence for each of the damages you claim. Much of your case rides on your ability to seek and find proof of your injuries. A personal injury attorney not only has experience building cases like yours, but they also have resources you likely do not have. Additionally, they typically work on a contingency fee basis. You have nothing to lose by contacting a personal injury attorney. They get paid only if they accept your case and win.

Overall, personal injury victims recover fairer compensation for their losses when they hire legal representation. At Phillips Law Group, our team of personal injury attorneys is available to review your claim, determine who is at fault, and fight to get you the compensation you deserve. We understand how insurance companies work and have experience communicating with them for our clients. We will explore and exhaust every option to pursue recovery of all damages within your rights. Contact Phillips Law Group today to schedule your free, no-obligation consultation. We are able and ready to get started on your case right away.