Personal injury law allows you to file a legal claim or lawsuit against another party if you can establish that the party is responsible for an accident that resulted in your injury. The law allows you to recover damages (economic or noneconomic losses) that you incurred as a result of the accident.
Negligence, Careless Actions, and Intentional Injury
Negligence is a failure to either provide reasonable care or act carefully in a given situation to avoid an accident. The at-fault party knew what the standard of care was, but did not meet it. As a result, an accident occurred.
Careless or Reckless Behavior
Recklessness is not the same as negligence. When someone acts recklessly, they understand the risks of their careless behavior, but intentionally engage in the behavior regardless of the risks. Consequently, their behavior caused an accident that led to your injuries.
The at-fault party intended to harm you and succeeded. When the other person intends to harm you, they may also be subject to criminal charges in addition to civil charges depending on the nature of the case.
Different Types of Personal Injury Cases
There is a wide range of scenarios that can occur to cause a personal injury. Some of the most common personal injury cases include:
Vehicle accidents can include either personal vehicles or commercial vehicles. They may involve multiple vehicles, 18-wheelers, buses, pedestrians, electric scooters, or bicycles. The at-fault party may be intoxicated, driving carelessly, distracted, or negligent.
Slip and Fall
If a property owner fails to provide a safe environment, a customer or guest could slip and fall on the property. Slip and fall accidents generally occur due to uneven floors, poor lighting, no railing in sidewalks & steps, or a lack of barrier & signage in a hazardous area.
A medical professional's negligence or careless actions may lead to an incorrect diagnosis, surgical error, or mistake in prescribing the wrong medication. Medical malpractice can happen in an emergency room, dentist’s office, or during the birth of a child.
In a negligent security case, the victim suffered from a vicious attack that may have been prevented if the facility owner or administrator had provided adequate security. Attacks often occur in hotels, apartments, restaurants, and businesses.
Traumatic Brain Injury
A traumatic brain injury (TBI) can happen as a result of a severe cranial impact. Injuries are most common in sports and on construction sites. However, they can also occur in slip and fall cases, vehicle accidents, or pedestrian accidents.
Understanding Fault and Liability in a Personal Injury Case
People often use the terms “fault” and “liability” interchangeably. However, in a personal injury case, a personal injury lawyer may assign fault and liability to different parties for different reasons.
The party that caused the accident is also responsible for your injuries. Therefore, your attorney will attempt to establish that the party is at fault based on evidence such as:
- Photos or videos of the accident
- Medical information including reports, receipts, or bills
- Eyewitness accounts
- Testimony from expert witnesses
- Clues from the scene of the accident
- Accident reports (police reports, property owner, etc.)
In a personal injury case, the party liable for your damages is typically an insurance company that provides some type of coverage for the at-fault party. Insurance protection could include auto insurance, liability insurance, or workers’ compensation.
When you file a claim against the insurance company, an insurance adjuster will require proof that the at-fault party is at fault for the accident and that the accident is what led to your injuries. The insurance company may also request the total monetary amount of your damages.
What You Can Claim as Personal Losses
When you file a personal injury claim, you may be eligible to account for two types of damages: economic and noneconomic.
1. Economic Damages
Economic damages are monetary expenses or losses that you incurred as a result of the accident. They may include:
- Medical expenses
- Lost wages
- In-house services
- Disability or disfigurement
2. Noneconomic Damages
Noneconomic damages are more difficult to estimate because they are less concrete than economic damages. They may include pain and suffering, emotional distress, loss of companionship, or a significant decline in the overall quality of your life.
The Difference Between a Personal Injury Claim and a Lawsuit
When pursuing compensation for damages, you may file a claim directly against the party or their insurance company. With the help of your attorney, you may negotiate a fair settlement with the other party and recover your losses.
However, the insurance company may deny your claim or offer you an unfair settlement that is too low to cover your medical expenses or lost wages. If the insurer refuses to settle, then you may have the option of filing a lawsuit against the insurance company.
In a lawsuit, a judge or jury will determine who is liable for your damages and how much your case is worth. Your lawyer can take on your case, guide you through litigation, and represent you in court.