Personal injury occurs when a person’s body, mind, emotions, or reputation is injured. In other words, a personal injury claim is when the harm pertains to the person, as opposed to property or an item.
Most personal injury cases never go to court. It is estimated around 95% of the personal injury cases are settled pretrial likely due to the length of time these types of trials take. Of the 5% that make it to court, only about 10% of them are won, and they fair better when presenting to a trial judge as opposed to a jury.
Grounds for Personal Injury Claims
The most abundant reason for a personal injury claim is negligence. Negligence is when the injury occurred because of the carelessness or recklessness of the defendant. The expectation is a person should have conducted themselves with a certain degree of care. For example, a doctor should not drop tools in the person he is operating on, or a lifeguard should not be asleep while guarding. When an injury occurs because of this missed expectation, it is negligence.
Strict liability means the defendant is liable for the injury despite the mental state or the intent of the defendant. In some cases, this may involve animals who have never been violent in the past. This liability could also be tied to a defective product or a drug. These types of situations do not have to have negligence to be grounds for personal injury claims.
When an intentional act causes an injury, it is an intentional wrong. These types of torts come in the way of battery, assault, false imprisonment, trespassing, and intentional inflection of emotional distress.
Negligence in Personal Injury Lawsuits
Negligence implies that the injury would not have occurred if the person accused of causing the injury had responded in an expected and reasonable manner. First, lawyers must establish a duty of care was expected. After this, the injured or representatives show the defendant did not meet the expected standard of care, or in other words, the duty of care was breached. Finally, real injuries must have resulted from these actions.
Truck drivers work long hours with demands pushing the rules in place to keep them safe. Risk factors unique to this profession move the long-haulers into a category higher at risk of accidents. Whether the reason is due to driving recklessly in adverse weather conditions, being under the influence, driving drowsy or distracted, or poor hiring and training practices, the life-changing impacts of an accident with a truck driver fall into the category of personal injury.
Dog bites from a known dangerous animal
Dog bites can happen from the best of dogs. Still, when a person is aware their pet has either bitten in the past or knows the animal is hostile, they could be negligent. The same goes for if they let their dog off a leash knowing the dog shows aggressive tendencies. With around 800,000 dog bites a year, lawyers are ready to take on insurance companies to ensure their clients are compensated for injuries sustained from an animal.
Although the vast amount of personal injury cases are settled outside of court, 57% of the car accident cases that go to trial favor the plaintiff. Most would rather settle than go to court due to the expedited nature of settlements and the ability to control more of the settlement amount. Car accidents can be due to an unlimited number of factors, including recklessness, road rage, or alcohol. A negligence claim covers the various ways a car driver may have caused a personal injury.
Medical malpractice occurs when a doctor, hospital, or healthcare professional’s diagnosis, treatment, aftercare, or health management error causes injury. Birth injuries are a division of medical malpractice. To be classified as medical malpractice, the following four items must be proven:
- A professional duty was owed to the patient
- There was a breach of such duty
- An injury was caused because of this breach
- There are damages resulting from such breach
In some situations, a product causes the injury. This situation is not solely limited to the medical profession. A tree stand‘s failure to perform to standard can cause an injury. Despite if it is a case of a poorly designed knee replacement implant, a defective e-cigarette design, or harmful medication or birth control, a product with a flaw that should have been caught falls under the category of negligence.
Strict Liability in Personal Injury Lawsuits
Strict liability is when there is not necessarily negligence causing an injury, nor is it derived from a person’s bad judgment or intentional intent. Instead, when a person or their product causes an injury, even when they did not mean it to happen, it is strict liability. There are generally three types of strict liability cases: defective products, wild animals, and abnormally dangerous activities.
With defective products, a person must show a product contained the defect when it left the manufacturer. The product must have been used in the method described and not outside the realm of reasonable use. For example, if a hairdryer catches hair on fire while holding it at a reasonable distance from the hair, it likely is a defective product. However, if the hair catches fire because you are placing your hair directly on the hairdryer itself, that is user error.
Wild animals are sometimes used for entertainment or personal enjoyment. When the animal injures another person, the individual that owns, transported, or kept the animal can be held liable. It does not necessarily matter if the owner tried to keep the animal contained, nor if the animal’s reaction is normal for it. For example, if someone owns a pet lion that mauls their friend when visiting, attacking may be normal behavior of the lion, and therefore, the owner would be held liable.
Abnormally dangerous activities
When an activity is innately dangerous, there is a risk involved despite steps to prevent injury. Examples of these are storing chemicals or making explosives, sewage accumulation, flammable liquids, and toxic fumes.
To determine if a situation is considered an abnormally dangerous activity, six factors are examined:
- Does the activity hold a high degree of risk?
- What is the level of the risk?
- Can the risk be eliminated with reasonable care?
- Is the activity a matter of common usage?
- Should the activity be performed in the place it was carried out?
- What is the value of this activity to the community?
With an abnormally dangerous activity, the court must look at if the defendant’s lack of safety precautions caused the injury, the degree of futility in the attempt to rid the activity of risk, and finally, if the defendant’s handling of the substances caused the injury.
Intentional Wrongs in Personal Injury Lawsuits
Intentional wrongs are exactly what they sound like: intended acts that create an injury, wrongful death, or an offense. These can also be a threat of a future act of harm. The most commons rebuttals to an intentional wrong claim are the defendant either acted in self-defense or was given permission for his or her actions. Intentional wrongs include:
- Battery – Battery is nearly any type of contact that can be deemed harmful or offensive. An injury does not need to occur. Nursing home abuse often is filed under battery or assault.
- Assault – Unlike battery, assault is the act that places the plaintiff in understandable fear of harm. An example of this would be if the defendant pointed a gun at the plaintiff.
- False Imprisonment – When the defendant restrains the plaintiff’s movement, physically or constructively, with no legal right to do so, this is considered false imprisonment.
- Trespassing – Trespassing occurs when a person enters another’s property unlawfully.
The Hayes Firm Can Help
With varying state laws and statutes of limitations mixed with the confusion of navigating the law, there is no reason to fight alone. You are likely already attempting to manage the psychological and physical fallouts of a personal injury. Let us help with the rest.
The Hayes Firm listens to your case and pairs you up with the most qualified lawyers for your situation. Don’t question if your lawyer has handled this type of case before. With us, you know that you are receiving an expert in the field.
Personal injuries take a toll; the legal aspect of obtaining the compensation you deserve does not need to. We are here to help. Contact The Hayes Firm today.