Personal Injury Lawsuits

We all hope to avoid being involved with accidents, however, as playwright George Bernard Shaw wisely said, “the unexpected always happens”. Even in the best of circumstances, for instance, a friend is injured in your home and you don’t anticipate a lawsuit, it is always advisable to obtain the opinion of a qualified attorney who knows the local rules for civil litigation in your jurisdiction. If you are the attorney handling a personal injury case, SmartRules can simplify and streamline drafting documents for your civil litigation case.

What is Personal Injury?

Personal injury refers to damage to one’s physical body or mind – as opposed to one’ s property.  Among the most common types of personal injuries that may result in compensation for the injured party are: motor vehicle accidents, slip and fall, dog bites, and wrongful death.

Personal injury may arise from an honest mistake that results in an accident or from sheer negligence – regardless, the high costs of medical care, income loss, and pain and suffering are often more than an individual, or a family, can manage; requesting compensation through a personal injury claim is an appropriate remedy.

Two issues to be taken into consideration when examining a potential personal injury case are the establishment of damages and liability.

Negligence

Negligence is defined as the omission of making reasonable efforts in ordinary circumstances to prevent an accident or situation that leads to personal injury.  For example, the owner of a store who is aware of a spilled beverage on the floor but fails to warn customers and does not clean up the wet area in order to prevent a slip and fall accident, is negligent.

Comparative Negligence

In some instances, both parties bear a level of responsibility in a personal injury case.  This is known as “Comparative Negligence,” and a court may assess damages and adjust compensation accordingly. A skilled personal injury attorney can educate you regarding your true level of responsibility in circumstances where both contributed to the incident.

Will the person or institution that caused the personal injury receive a punishment other than monetary sanctions? Will I receive a punishment if I inadvertently cause an accident?

Generally, the law distinguishes between negligent actions and criminal offences, therefore a criminal punishment such as a prison sentence will not likely to be levied for a negligent action. It is also important to note that personal injury claims are handled in civil courts whereas crimes are handled in criminal courts.

However, there is an area of personal injury law that introduces the concept of “intentional wrongs” such as a “practical joke” that goes awry – a personal injury claim falling into this category could result in criminal liability – however, the proceedings for the personal injury claim under these circumstances would commence in a civil court as opposed to a criminal court.  Situations such as this stress how complicated the law can be and the importance of consulting with a qualified attorney.  For instance, most automobile insurance policies do not cover “intentional wrongs” – therefore, in the hypothetical event that another driver hit your car deliberately, you would most likely not be in a position to make a personal injury claim on an insurance policy. But if you are injured because a drunk driver hit your car, you should be covered for a personal injury claim even though drunk driving is a criminal offense in most states because it is not legally classified as intentional – once again highlighting the complexity of personal injury law and the necessity of seeking sound legal advice in all instances.

Dog Bites

In almost all instances, the owner of a dog that bites another person, most especially a child, is 100% responsible – even if the dog was provoked and had no history of attacks.  Some homeowner’s insurance policies will cover dog bite incidents, however, certain breeds may be excluded from a policy. It is always advisable to consult with a qualified attorney if you are involved in a dog incident, either as the dog owner or if you, or a member of your family, have suffered a dog bite.

Slip and Fall

“Slip and Fall” personal injury cases have gained a great deal of attention in the media but the laws surrounding these cases remain complex and require the analysis of a qualified attorney.  In some instances, a property owner may not be considered liable or negligent if the injured party did not take reasonable care to avoid the accident – for instance, if a store owner warns customers not walk down a specific aisle due to a wet floor, a customer who deliberately ignores the warnings and then has a slip and fall, may not be entitled to compensation. There are many other factors to consider as well when investigating a slip and fall, such as building code violations, poor lighting, and obstacles carelessly preventing safe passage.  (“Slip and Fall” is one type of “fall” injury addressed in personal injury claims; other types of fall injuries include: “trip-and-fall” and “stumble-and-fall”).

For More Information on CIVIL LITIGATION RULES visit www.smartrules.com.

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