What Are The Grounds for Filing a Personal Injury Lawsuit?
Personal injury claims are civil lawsuits usually between private parties. If an individual or an organization causes an injury, illness, or economic loss to another party due to negligence, the injured party can seek compensation for all resulting losses through a personal injury lawsuit. The majority of Americans will eventually encounter some kind of personal injury situation and require the help of a personal injury attorney, so it is wise to have some working knowledge of how personal injury lawsuits work.
Negligence in Personal Injury Lawsuits
The root concept in any personal injury lawsuit is negligence, or one party’s failure to exercise reasonable care in a given situation. To succeed with a personal injury claim and obtain compensation for damages, a plaintiff must identify the party liable for his or her damages and prove the responsible party’s negligence.
Negligence has four elements a plaintiff’s attorney must prove to win a personal injury case.
- The plaintiff’s attorney must identify the defendant and prove the defendant owed some duty of care to the plaintiff in the given situation.
- The plaintiff’s attorney must then show how the defendant breached or violated this duty of care. Some examples could include running a red light, driving under the influence, or a doctor failing to warn a patient about a known risk of prescribed treatment.
- Next, the plaintiff’s attorney must establish the full scope of the plaintiff’s damages. This typically requires thorough research and expert witness testimony.
- Finally, the plaintiff’s attorney needs to prove causation, or that the plaintiff’s claimed damages resulted from the defendant’s negligence and not some other cause.
If a plaintiff’s attorney can successfully prove these four elements of negligence, it is very likely the plaintiff will succeed with the claim.
Types of Personal Injury Lawsuits
Personal injury is a broad practice area that covers many possible types of cases. At the root of any personal injury claim is negligence, but some personal injury claims can arise from intentional torts or intentional criminal actions like assaults and sexual battery. Offenders will ideally face criminal prosecution for such offenses from the state in addition to civil claims from victims and their families. Personal injury cases can arise in various situations.
- Motor vehicle accidents. Car crashes are a leading cause of personal injury claims, especially in states following fault-based rules for accident liability.
- Dog Bites. Most states hold dog owners liable for any injuries their dog’s cause. Some states uphold “one bite” rules that effectively act as second chance laws for dogs that engage in one unprovoked attack. Many states uphold strict liability for dog owners and hold them completely accountable for any and all damages their pets cause.
- Premises liability accidents. Property owners must ensure their properties are free from hazards to lawful visitors. If a property owner knows of a safety issue on his or her property, the property owner must warn visitors about it if they are likely to encounter it while visiting the property. Property owners do not owe a duty of care to trespassers.
- Workplace accidents. Negligent managers and supervisors who fail to address known safety issues in the workplace could face liability for civil claims from injured workers who cannot recover through workers’ compensation benefits alone.
- Intentional Torts. Violent criminals usually face criminal charges from the state and civil charges from their victims. The judge hearing the criminal case may order restitution as part of the defendant’s punishment and the defendant may also face liability for other damages through the civil case.
- Daycare and school-related accidents. Childcare supervisors, teachers, and school faculty have a duty of care to the children they instruct and supervise to ensure a clean and safe environment and assign an appropriate number of adult supervisors to the children in their care.
- Negligent security. Hotels, apartment buildings, shopping malls, and large department stores have a duty to provide reasonable security for lawful tenants, guests, and customers. Negligent or ineffective security could lead to someone suffering a violent attack or assault, potentially placing liability on the establishment owner.
These are just a few examples of potential grounds for personal injury lawsuits. If you or a loved one sustained injuries or economic losses due to the negligent actions of another party, or if you are unsure whether any other party bears liability for those losses, speak with an experienced personal injury lawyer as soon as possible.