Personal injury is an injury to a person’s body or mind. Personal injury causes of action are based on tort law, which covers behaviors that cause injury, suffering or harm to another person. In general, tort law is categorized into three categories:
Personal injury cases involve injuries in many different settings and situations. Some common personal injury cases include:
An accident personal injury claim may be filed in connection with injuries resulting from unintentional accidents and can involve a single claim by one plaintiff or multiple claims by many plaintiffs (class action lawsuit). Most accident personal injury lawsuits are based on a negligence theory.
Proof of negligence does not require that the defendant acted intentionally in order to be held liable. Instead, liability for negligence is proved by showing that the defendant owed a duty of care to the victim, that she breached her duty, and that the breach was the cause of the person’s injuries.
Two types of evidence used to prove a negligence case are direct and circumstantial evidence. Evidence that is collected from personal knowledge of a witness or from images seen in a photo or video are considered direct evidence. Other evidence that leads to direct evidence and does not directly show proof of negligence would be characterized as circumstantial evidence.
Thus, while the person may not have directly caused an injury, it is her negligent conduct that created the conditions for the accident to occur.
First, seek medical assistance. Your health is important, so don’t be shy about getting medical attention. You can seek therapy, medication or surgery, whatever you and your doctors believe will help. This has the dual purpose of documenting the extent of your injuries, which is important since personal injury claims require proof of injury before any compensation can be offered.
Second, collect proof of the injury. Take photos if possible, write down names of witnesses, and keep all medical and insurance documents.
Typically, personal injury plaintiffs are awarded compensatory damages – a monetary award intended to put the plaintiff back in the position she was in prior to the injury. There are two types of compensatory damages: general and specific.
1) General damages
General damages compensate for the injury itself, the most commonly known type is for pain and suffering. Other types of general damages are awarded for ongoing disability, or disfigurement. The amount of general damages will depend on:
2) Specific damages
Specific damages, also called special damages, compensate for measurable monetary loss resulting from the injury. Specific damages cover both past and future lost wages, medical bills, and other consequential costs. The amount will depend on:
Another type of award that may be granted in a personal injury case is punitive damages. While the goal of awarding compensatory damages is to make the plaintiff whole again, punitive damages are intended to punish the defendant for willful, wanton, or malicious conduct. As such, punitive damages are typically only awarded in personal injury suits resulting from intentional harm.
If you or a loved one has been injured, then you want to make sure you take the right steps. To make sure you don't make any mistakes, speak to an experienced personal injury attorney immediately to learn more about preserving your rights and remedies.
Last Modified: 09-08-2017 10:06 AM PDTLaw Library Disclaimer
We've helped more than 4 million clients find the right lawyer – for free. Present your case online in minutes. LegalMatch matches you to pre-screened lawyers in your city or county based on the specifics of your case. Within 24 hours experienced local lawyers review it and evaluate if you have a solid case. If so, attorneys respond with an offer to represent you that includes a full attorney profile with details on their fee structure, background, and ratings by other LegalMatch users so you can decide if they're the right lawyer for you.