A personal injury case is best defined as nearly any circumstance wherein you have been hurt or injured through no fault of your own. When the liability lies in the hands of another person – in other words, when it was in some way their responsibility that you got hurt, or if it was their responsibility to have kept you from getting hurt – a personal injury case may be a way for you to collect compensation for damages and injury suffered as a result of their negligence.
Both liability and negligence were highlighted because they are very important terms in personal injury cases.
On paper, many personal injury cases are clearcut and simple. If you slip and fall on someone else’s property because they didn’t defrost their sidewalk and you had no choice but to cross it, then that likely means it was their fault.
But you must figure out whose fault it was, and in what capacity. Without clear negligence, there is no liability. You don’t need to fault a human being – a municipality, city, company, or organization can also be held accountable for someone’s pain and suffering.
A personal injury case lawyer can help you determine whether your injury and suffering – both physical and mental – were caused by someone’s negligence and whether you have a personal injury case on your hands. Let’s explore what makes a personal injury case work.
When Is It a Personal Injury Case?
Personal injury cases are best defined as an injury or suffering linked to someone else’s negligence and/or maliciousness. Whether there was or wasn’t intent is secondary to whether there was liability. As an example:
If you’re trekking through the woods away from an established trail alone, without a guide, and you hurt yourself, you will have a hard time proving a case. However, if you’re invited to a house party and you slip and fall down the stairs because the tiling on the stair wasn’t properly fixed, or the grout had loosened, then there’s an argument to be made that a lack of maintenance on a deteriorating staircase counts as negligence.
These are fast-and-loose examples of what can end up becoming a very complicated field of law. To help better understand personal injury cases, we need to understand the concept of the different kinds of tort. Tort is an action or inaction that gives way to harm or injury, committed by someone with an obligation towards another who may seek compensation for damages. Tort is when you fall down the stairs because the person in charge of keeping the stairs in good shape did not do so. Tort can also be split into:
- Intentional tort: Intentional tort is when an injury or harm is committed on purpose, or with the intent to injure or harm.
- Negligence tort: Negligence tort is when the injury or harm was a result of negligence or a lack of diligence in one’s duties and obligations.
- Strict liability tort: Strict liability torts only apply in cases where a person or company can still be held liable without having to prove negligence or malicious intent.
Most personal injury cases fall within the above three categories of tort. Personal injury cases typically revolve around what happened, who it happened to, whether there was negligence or malicious intent, and who is liable.
Types of Personal Injury Cases
Personal injury cases come in many shapes and sizes. Below are some of the most common types.
1. Vehicular Accidents
Any accident involving a vehicle and an offending party can be considered an auto or vehicular personal injury case. This is a neglect or negligence tort case. In these cases, the victim must have behaved in a safe manner, regardless of whether they were behind the wheel or not, while the person at fault must have been proven to be somehow negligent.
As an example, if a person suffers a crash as a result of someone running a red light, the person who ran the red light can potentially be held liable. Aside from car-on-car collisions, other examples of vehicular accidents include:
- Bicycle accidents
- Motorcycle accidents
- Pedestrian accidents
- Boating accidents
- And more.
2. Slip and Fall
One of the most commonly known types of personal injury cases is the slip and fall. This is also a negligence tort. In the case of a slip and fall, it’s important to establish that the other party was at-fault for the conditions that caused the slip.
If you’re at a party, have a little too much to drink, spill some of your drink, and slip on it, you’re not going to be able to argue that the owner of the house made you drink and spill. But if the conditions in or around the home are somehow unsafe and you hurt yourself, you may have a case on your hands.
3. Workplace Incident
A workplace incident is also a negligence tort. In these cases, it must be proven that unsafe work conditions or lack of maintenance caused the accident. If the owner or manager of the business did not keep the workplace safe, they can be held liable for their employee’s injuries.
4. Product Liability
A product liability case is a rare example of a strict liability tort. In this case, a product can cause harm or injury without negligence or malicious intent, and the victim can seek compensation. There are exceptions to this, of course.
For example, you cannot expect to drink clearly labeled and hazardous chemicals and seek compensation. An example of product liability is a drug with poorly labeled side effects. Defective products can cause negligence tort (e.g., a coffee maker that sprays you with hot coffee).
5. Assault and Battery
Assault and battery cases are often heard in criminal court, but as intentional tort causing physical injury and costs, victims of assault and battery can start a lawsuit in civil court and seek compensation for the injuries and damages caused by the incident.
There are many more examples of personal injury cases, each of which can cause considerable physical and emotional harm, from wrongful death cases to grievous medical negligence.
If you or someone you know were the victim of someone else’s negligence or ill intent, and are considering making a claim, time is of the essence. Be sure to consult with a legal professional as soon as you can, to discuss the circumstances and potential of your case.