What Qualifies as Personal Injury?
A personal injury is a broad category of harm that enables you to recover financial compensation when someone else is responsible for it. Many things may qualify as a personal injury. In fact, you may deserve financial compensation in far more circumstances than you may have thought.
Always check with an experienced personal injury lawyer to learn whether you have a cause of action against the responsible party. Your lawyer will review the facts of your case and advise you whether you have a potential lawsuit. Let a lawyer determine whether you should seek Financial compensation instead of making any assumptions on your own.
Personal Injuries Are Damages to Your Person
One important thing to distinguish at the outset is that a personal injury affects your “person” instead of your property. While property damage may be recoverable in a personal injury lawsuit, it will not be the main focus. A personal injury is harmful to your body, reputation, or emotions. Of course, it will encompass a physical injury.
A personal injury lawsuit will also include other types of damage as well. There are lawsuits against others for far more than just bodily harm, although most personal injury lawsuits are for physical impacts to you.
How Personal Injuries May Happen
Many personal Injuries happen as the result of some sudden accident.
Here are some common causes of personal injuries:
- Car accidents
- Truck accidents
- Product liability accidents
- Bicycle accidents
- Motorcycle accidents
- Rideshare accidents
- Pedestrian accidents
Personal Injuries May Include Damages from Using Products You Bought
Personal injuries may also encompass harm you have suffered after using a product. You may have taken a doctor-prescribed medication only to develop cancer or organ damage because the product was defective. You might have burns received in a fire caused by a defective kitchen appliance. Product manufacturers can also cause you personal injury. Product liability cases are among the more complex personal injury lawsuits, and you need a lawyer with experience in these specific types of actions.
Personal Injury Can Even Include Damage to Your Reputation
One type of lawsuit that people may not think of as a personal injury lawsuit is libel and slander. These are types of speech and communication that cause damage to your reputation. Both of these involve false statements aimed at causing injury to the plaintiff. Libel consists of written statements, while slander covers spoken words.
These defamation cases can involve unfounded statements that claim that you have engaged in criminal or immoral activity. These cases must involve false statements, and they require that the defendant had actual malice to defame you. Defamation cases are challenging to win, but they are often necessary to clear your name. You have every right to want to make someone who has spread false and defamatory information about you pay for what they did.
Damages to Your Emotions and Psyche Are Considered Personal Injuries
Another type of lawsuit that does not necessarily address bodily harm is the infliction of emotional distress. You can file a lawsuit for either negligent or intentional infliction of emotional distress. The ladder case is when the defendant commits an action that is so utterly shocking that it causes severe emotional distress.
Here are the elements that you will need to prove to win an intentional infliction of emotional distress lawsuit:
- The defendant acted with intent or recklessly
- The defendant acted in an extreme or outrageous manner
- The defendant caused you to suffer distress
- The distress that you suffered was severe
Here are some examples of conduct that may be intentional infliction of emotional distress:
- Calling you extreme and severe names
- Extreme actions that a creditor may take to collect a debt
- Instances in which a person abuses their power over another to cause them severe emotional harm
- A practical joke designed to convince you that a loved one has suffered severe harm or death
You may also sue for negligent infliction of emotional distress. If you witness severe injury to a loved one because of someone else’s negligent conduct, you may have your own independent action in a personal injury lawsuit. For example, if you see a child struck and injured as a pedestrian when another driver fails to stop at a crosswalk, you can sue for your own emotional distress.
Emotional Distress on its Own May Provide a Cause of Action
You may experience emotional distress due to an accident or incident that may not have caused you physical injury. It is not a requirement that you suffer a physical injury to your body in a personal injury case. Trauma or depression resulting from something that happened can be an actionable personal injury.
Other types of personal injuries do not necessarily meet your preconceived notion of what should be the subject of a lawsuit. For example, you can sue someone who has committed a physical assault on you. Your civil lawsuit will be in addition to the criminal case against them, which will be separate and independent of that process.
Sexual assault victims may sue their abuser in court. You might even file a lawsuit if the defendant is tried and acquitted of the charges because these cases have two different standards of proof.
Doctors Can Injure You
You can also sue when a physician commits medical malpractice. Here, the doctor failed to live up to the standard of care expected from a reasonable physician under the circumstances.
For example, you may sue a doctor if they:
- Failed to diagnose a health condition in time to treat you effectively
- Make a surgical mistake that can leave you with lasting injury
- Fail to perform a cesarean section surgery in time, causing your child a severe birth injury
- Prescribe you the wrong medication or fail to check how they will interact with the other medications you currently take
Medical malpractice cases are also personal injury actions. They cause physical injury to your body because of the wrongful actions of someone else who owed you a duty of care.
Wrongful Death Is a Type of Personal Injury
Losing a family member to an accident that was someone else’s fault is also considered a personal injury. These are known as wrongful death cases. In this case, your personal injury is the loss you suffered because of your loved one’s death.
The deceased person may have provided your family with financial support through their job. They may have also given love and support to you through their role and actions. Your family may have suffered trauma and grief because you have lost a loved one to someone else’s wrongful actions. All of these are your own personal injury, and they are recoverable in a wrongful death case.
You may file a personal injury lawsuit when someone Acts negligently, intentionally, or recklessly. The requirement is that someone commits some action that causes you an injury. Of course, it is easier to prove your personal injury case when the defendant has acted purposefully. It is more of a challenge when you are trying to prove that the defendant was negligent.
Negligence Is the Basis of Most Personal Injury Cases
Most personal injury cases will rely on negligence as the controlling legal standard. Negligence is not automatically assumed when you suffer a personal injury. Instead, negligence occurs when the defendant has either done something they should not have done or failed to take action when they were legally obligated. You will need proof of what the defendant did and compare it to what a reasonable person might have done under the circumstances.
The usual legal test in a personal injury case is whether the defendant was negligent. In some cases, where you have alleged intentional misconduct, you may not need to meet this particular burden of proof. You need to show that the defendant committed the act of which they were accused or acted recklessly. In most circumstances, you will need evidence of what the defendant did to compare it to what a reasonable person might have done under the circumstances.
A four-part test determines negligence, and you must meet every element.
Here are the four elements of the test:
- The defendant owed you a duty of care
- The defendant breached the duty of care by acting unreasonably under the circumstances
- You suffered an injury
- You might not have suffered an injury had it not been for the other party’s acts.
If you can meet all four elements of this test, you will be in a position to receive financial compensation for your injuries. However, you may be unable to prove that you suffered a personal injury and show that it was someone else’s fault without the help of an experienced personal injury lawyer. In some cases, the defendant may deny that you even got injured in the first place. Even more frequently, they will contest the fact that your personal injury resulted from their actions, even if they did something wrong.
One common way that defendants deny liability is to claim that your injury came from something else. For example, the defendant may argue that your neck and back injury was actually the result of a pre-existing condition, as opposed to your accident. They argue that you did not suffer a personal injury because of their conduct.
However, the rule in every personal injury case is that you take your victim as you find them. Even if you had a pre-existing condition, you might still recover financial compensation if your injury aggravated the condition in the accident. Aggravating a pre-existing condition is still considered a personal injury because it is damage to your body that was not there before the accident. There is a rule in personal injury law called the “Eggshell Plaintiff” doctrine, and it applies in every case.
Your Damages in a Personal Injury Case
Regardless of how your personal injury happened or what injury you suffered, the principles underlying your damages are the same across all cases. Personal injury law dictates that you are entitled to compensation for the full extent of the damages the defendant inflicted upon you. Your damages include both your physical injuries and specific intangible harms. Injuries to your emotions, reputation, and psyche are the same as outright physical injuries.
Here are the damages that you can receive if you win your personal injury case:
- The complete cost of your past and future medical care
- Compensation for your lost earnings when you cannot work or you cannot do the same type of work that you did before your injury
- Pain and suffering for both the physical and emotional Harms that you have dealt with, and we’ll continue to deal with
- Emotional distress
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Embarrassment humiliation
- Permanent scarring and disfigurement
Post-traumatic stress disorder can be enough to qualify you for damages. Many victims with PTSD cannot work or earn a living, and they can never enjoy the lives that they had before the accident again. Suppose your damages are primarily PTSD and other types of emotional harm. In that case, your attorney will need to work with medical experts to prove the damages and the compensation you deserve.
In general, one of the critical areas where your lawyer adds value to your case is figuring out how much your claim is worth. It may be even more difficult when you have suffered a severe injury and your intangible damages are high. Your attorney can figure out the appropriate strategy to help you demonstrate both that you have suffered harm and how much you have suffered in damages.
Learn More From a Personal Injury Lawyer
The best way to know if you suffered an actionable personal injury is to seek a free consultation with a personal injury attorney immediately. Once you have legal help, you can focus on your physical and mental recovery. You put your entire financial and legal recovery in your lawyer’s hands.