Personal Injury Law 101: What You Need to Know Before Filing a Lawsuit
Nobody wants to find themselves walking down the street one minute only to be involved in a painful accident the next. The only factor that makes this situation worse is if the accident was caused by someone else and was completely out of your control. Many people fall under the belief that there is nothing they can do to rectify this troubling situation, but they are mistaken. Pursuing a personal injury lawsuit may be in your best interest, which is why learning everything you need to know about this form of law is so important.
What is Personal Injury Law?
Falling under tort law, as defined by the American Bar Association, personal injury occurs when one person is injured as a result of the unintentional negligent actions of another person or group. The damage can occur to either a person’s physical body or their property, which makes what qualifies as personal injury quite broad. When a personal injury lawsuit is filed, the injured party is suing the party they believe caused the accident for damages that are typically in the form of monetary compensation.
Common Examples of Personal Injury
Understanding personal injury based on the definition alone can be challenging, which is why breaking down some common examples can help. While there are a number of different situations in which personal injury law could apply, the following scenarios are among the most commonly seen:
The Slip and Fall
In this scenario, assume a person is walking through a grocery store going about their weekly shopping tasks. They turn and begin to walk down an aisle, only to feel their feet slip out from under them, and they come crashing down, hurting their head and arm in the process. Earlier that day, an employee was cleaning the floors and didn’t dry everything properly. They didn’t take notice and, as such, did not put a ‘Wet Floor’ sign down, which led to the slip and fall of the customer.
The Animal Attack
In this second scenario, assume there is an owner of a dog that has a particularly rough past and a history of unprompted violent behaviour with strangers. This person decides to take their dog on a walk and comes across a section of the walk where it is legal to have your dog off-leash. Despite knowing about their animal’s violent tendencies with strangers, they remove the leash from their animal. Shortly after this, their dog charges a stranger and begins attacking them, leading to multiple bite wounds on the stranger.
The Medical Malpractice Incident
In this third scenario, assume there is a doctor who is about to perform surgery on their patient. They don’t feel that they need to warn their patient of the potential complications of the surgery so as not to worry them, so they choose to stay silent. When the surgery begins, the complicated nature of it leads the doctor to make a mistake that they quickly attempt to fix. Following the surgery, the patient wakes up but is distraught to find they are experiencing major side effects due to the doctor’s mistake, which they were unaware were possible due to the doctor not warning them.
The Vehicle Collision
Finally, in this fourth scenario, assume there is a driver going down the road like every other day. As they are driving up to an intersection, they feel their phone buzz, and they make the decision to take their eyes off the road in order to check their device. Ahead of them, the light turns red, unbeknownst to them. At the same time, a pedestrian is coming around the corner, unable to see the vehicle barreling towards them, and steps off the curb, given they have the ‘Walk’ indicator. The driver doesn’t stop in time and hits the pedestrian due to their distraction, leading to serious injuries.
Proving Personal Injury Existed: The Role of Negligence
When you are considering contacting a personal injury lawyer, there will be much to discuss regarding your case. Specifically, though, the focus will centre around proving the other party acted with negligence, which refers to behaviour that shows a disregard for others around a person. To that end, the following three points must be proven:
1. Duty of Care
First, it must be shown that the defendant had a duty of care to keep the plaintiff out of harm’s way by behaving in a reasonable manner. For example, drivers have a duty of care to act responsibly behind the wheel to keep themselves and others from harm.
2. Breach of Duty of Care
Second, it must be shown that there was a breach of that duty of care in some way. Sticking with the same example, a driver choosing to check their phone while on the road is clearly acting with negligence.
Finally, it must be proven that the breach of the duty of care by the defendant directly led to the accident and injuries the plaintiff suffered. A driver checking their phone and hitting a pedestrian who had the right of way would potentially qualify.
Everything You Should Know About Filing Damages
Once all of the above has been proven, your lawyer will work with you to outline what damages are applicable to your case. These can be special damages which are related to tangible expenses, or general damages, which are intangible expenses, such as pain and suffering. This is where the monetary compensation comes from when a person files a lawsuit against the defendant.
The Bottom Line
Rather than settling for an injury that was caused by another person or group, take action and contact an accredited personal injury lawyer to see about filing a lawsuit. Depending on the details of your case, you may be entitled to tens of thousands of dollars, potentially more, in compensation. Reach out to personal injury lawyers in your area to discuss the finer details and get your injuries compensated.