Understanding Personal Injury Law
Personal injuries fall under tort law, which is the area of law that covers civil wrongdoings. A personal injury happens when one party’s negligence causes injury to another party. In contrast with criminal cases where the state files charges, an individual or an attorney representing a plaintiff files a civil lawsuit. Some defendants may face criminal charges later if fault is proven, and the evidence of the civil case is strong enough for a criminal case.
It is important to differentiate it from property damage. Although property damage may also be an element in a tort case, personal injuries are damages that happen to a person’s mind, emotions or body. For example, if a drunk motorist drives onto a woman’s lawn, hits her and crashes into her porch, she can sue for property damage and personal injuries. She could sue for medical costs. Additionally, if she became disabled, she could sue for extra money for future medical care. She could also sue for mental anguish if she developed depression over the accident’s outcome and win punitive damages.
For a case to qualify as a personal injury, there must be negligence from the party responsible for the injury. Negligence is the failure to follow a duty of care, and it can apply in several instances. If a distracted driver runs a stop sign and hits a pedestrian, the driver is negligent for not paying attention to the road. In that case, the driver’s negligence led to the pedestrian’s injury. The pedestrian could sue for a minimum of medical damages and lost time and wages at work. Long-term or permanent injuries warrant more money.
Another example of negligence is when a store owner who knows that it is raining fails to put down slip-proof absorbent mats at the front of the store. When a shopper enters, slips and breaks a hip, the store owner is to blame for being negligent about safety issues. Store owners have a duty of care and to provide a safe environment for their customers. The same would apply if an employee fell. The store owner is also required to provide a safe work environment.
In some cases, determining the at-fault party can be difficult. For example, if a person buys an off-brand curling iron that catches fire and burns the person, that individual may first think to sue the store. If the store did not make the curling iron, the manufacturer would be the next assumed liable party. However, the manufacturer may not be liable if the issue was traced to a faulty wire in the product that was purchased from a different supplier. If the issue was widespread and could be traced to the wire, the company that supplied the curling iron manufacturer with faulty wires could be to blame.
Determining if a case constitutes a personal injury lawsuit and finding the responsible party can be difficult. Contact the Morelli Law Firm to see if you have a personal injury case.