A personal injury damages a plaintiff’s emotional health, physical health, or both. Mental health injuries include emotional pain and anguish sustained by an accident, such as the manifestation of PTSD.
Physical injuries include injuries to organs, limbs, or other parts of the anatomy. The injury that is sustained by a personal injury plaintiff does not need to manifest itself instantly, as it may develop over time.
In a claim for personal injury, the plaintiff claims that they have sustained an injury due to an act or failure to act by the defendant. There are several different types of events or accidents which may form the basis of a personal injury claim, such as:
A personal injury may occur intentionally, such as when the defendant deliberately injures a victim, or intends to commit an act that results in injury to another person. A personal injury may also occur unintentionally.
If an unintentional injury is due to someone’s negligence, the plaintiff may file a lawsuit based on the negligent behavior. Automobile accidents, slip and fall accidents, and injuries sustained from medical malpractice are some examples of negligence cases.
A negligence personal injury claim is one in which the plaintiff claims that the defendant injured them, as a result of breaching a duty of care that the defendant owed to the plaintiff. The duty of care that is owed to the plaintiff largely depends on the circumstances. In general, the defendant is under a legal duty to exercise that same degree of care that an ordinary person would use under a specific set of facts or circumstances.
An example of this would be how if the defendant is driving their vehicle on a highway in non-inclement weather, they have a duty to follow motor vehicle laws. If the defendant is driving their vehicle on a one-lane road when the weather is stormy and inclement, the defendant owes a greater duty of care. As such, they must exercise that degree of care that is appropriate for inclement weather. Examples of such care include driving at reduced speed, using windshield wipers, and using headlights and taillights.
Whether a duty of care to the plaintiff exists also depends upon the foreseeability, or predictability, of harm that may result if the duty is not exercised. The test for whether a plaintiff is owed a duty of care questions whether an average person, in the position of the defendant, could foresee that the type of injury sustained by the plaintiff was likely to take place.
When yes, the defendant owes the plaintiff a duty of care. As such, if the defendant breaches that duty which causes an injury resulting in damages, the defendant has committed personal injury through negligence. When no, then no duty is owed, and the defendant cannot have committed negligence.
What Legal Action Can I Take For Cases Involving Suffocation?
Suffocation occurs when a person has difficulty breathing because their airway is being constricted. Suffocation can cause mild to severe injuries, ranging from dizziness to death. Examples of when suffocation can occur includes when someone puts a pillow over your nostrils, or if you are trapped in an oxygen-deprived area.
Suffocation can be a significant factor in many criminal cases and civil lawsuits. An example of this would be how the following types of crimes may be committed by someone suffocating another person:
- Crib deaths, or sudden infant death syndrome;
- Attempted murder; and
If you are charged with one of the above crimes, you could face jail time if convicted. Additionally, the following types of civil claims could involve allegations that suffocation occurred:
It is most common to see claims of suffocation associated with medical malpractice claims against a hospital, or a medical professional who caused someone to be deprived of oxygen. In this case, the hospital or medical professional would face a claim of negligence.
Liability is generally determined by whether the standard of care relating to patient treatment was breached, as was previously mentioned when discussing negligence. The common damages that you could recover would be money for the medical expenses that your suffocation injuries caused.
You could also recover damages associated with any pain and suffering or emotional distress that you suffered. However, the available damages will largely depend on your state’s medical malpractice laws, which will be different depending on where you live.
Are There Any Legal Defenses To Suffocation Charges?
If you are convicted of a crime involving suffocation, you may have some possible defenses, such as:
- Intoxication; and
- Lack of intent. Whether these defenses are available to you will depend on your state’s laws, as well as the specific type of crime that you are charged with.
If you are sued for civil battery involving suffocation, you could argue that you were acting in self-defense or that you were acting to defend another person. Additionally, if you are a health professional sued for medical malpractice, you could argue that the plaintiff was contributorily negligent for their injuries.
Two of the greatest negligence defenses would be contributory and comparative negligence. These defenses allow a jury or judge to consider the percentage that a plaintiff is at fault for causing an accident, and not just the defendant.
The doctrines of contributory and comparative negligence also define and reduce or deny the amount of damages that a plaintiff can recover in monetary damages. While each state has its own set of rules and requirements for negligence, there are some general guidelines that apply to the overall legal theory of negligence.
The doctrine of contributory negligence states that if a plaintiff is considered to be at all negligent in the incident in question, they may not recover any percentage of damages from the defendant in the case. This is referred to as a total bar on damages.
What this means is that if a judge or jury finds that the plaintiff was even as much as one percent at fault for the accident, they cannot recover any damages for their injuries. Over the years, states have gradually replaced contributory negligence with other standards of negligence, largely due to its extreme measures.
As of September 2021, the only states that still use a pure contributory negligence doctrine include:
- North Carolina;
- Washington D.C.; and
Do I Need A Lawyer For Help With Suffocation Incidents?
Suffocation incidents are especially serious and will likely require legal assistance. If you are convicted of a crime involving suffocation, you should contact a criminal defense attorney immediately in order to help you formulate any defense you may have to the crime. An attorney will also attempt to negotiate a plea bargain on your behalf, and will also be able to represent you in court, as needed.
If you were injured through the negligence of a doctor, you may be able to file a medical malpractice lawsuit. A local personal injury attorney can help you understand your legal rights and options according to your state’s specific laws, and will also be able to represent you in court throughout the process.