What Is Personal Injury Law?
Personal injury law exists for the benefit of injured accident victims. If you sustain an injury under questionable circumstances, such as a trip and fall on a broken sidewalk, someone else may owe you compensation for your expenses. A personal injury lawsuit serves to hold the at-fault party financially responsible for the damages you suffered. Filing a personal injury claim in Arizona could allow you and your family to recover compensation for losses such as medical bills and lost wages. Learn the basics of personal injury law to find out if you have a claim.
Purpose of an Injury Claim
Personal injury law centers on torts. A tort is a wrongful act, such as a crime or act of negligence, that places civil legal liability with the actor. Civil liability is a financial responsibility for any damages the victims of the tort suffered. In layman’s terms, if someone does something wrong and this causes injury to another person, the victim would have grounds to file a claim to damages against the wrongdoer. Personal injury claims can arise after intentional or accidental wrongdoings.
Intentional wrongdoings, such as the crime of homicide or hit-and-run, could lead to criminal charges against the person at fault. It could also lead to a civil personal injury claim. The victim could file a civil claim against the criminal to try to receive financial compensation for his or her losses. A personal injury case may also involve the legal doctrine of negligence. Negligence is not an intentional wrongdoing, but still breaches the at-fault party’s duties of care to the victim, resulting in preventable injuries.
A successful personal injury claim against one or more parties could end in an insurance settlement or a financial award in the form of a verdict. Financial recovery could include amounts for past and future medical expenses, pain and suffering, lost wages, property damages, permanent disabilities, out-of-pocket costs, legal fees, and more. The money a victim receives in a personal injury lawsuit could help him or her move forward after a serious car accident, slip and fall, workplace accident, defective product incident, or medical malpractice.
Elements of a Case
If you suffered an injury or a relative died in an accident in Arizona, you may have grounds for a personal injury lawsuit. The best way to find out if you have a case is through a free consultation with a personal injury attorney. In general, you may have a case if your accident involves four elements.
- Duty to exercise reasonable care. Someone owed you a duty of care, such as a driver’s duty not to recklessly cause an accident or a doctor’s duty to provide proper patient care.
- Breach of duty. The person in question breached the duty he or she owed to you, either negligently or intentionally.
- Causation. The person’s breach of duty to exercise care was what caused your accident and related injuries.
- Damages suffered. You suffered compensable damages such as missed time at work and medical bills because of the person’s breach of duty of care.
These are the four main elements for a personal injury claim in Arizona. Some cases may not require proof of all four elements, however. A strict liability claim, for example, will not require you or your attorney to prove negligence. Understanding whether you have grounds for a case often takes consulting an attorney.
Personal Injury Laws in Arizona
The basics of personal injury law remain the same from state to state, but the specifics vary. Each state, for example, has unique deadlines for filing (statutes of limitations). The deadline to bring a personal injury claim in Arizona is two years from the date of the accident or the date you discovered your injuries. Arizona is also a pure comparative negligence state, meaning a courtroom could find you 99% responsible for causing your own injuries and you could still recover 1% of a compensatory award. Learn more about specific personal injury laws with help from an experienced Phoenix personal injury attorney.