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Personal injury law 101

by on May 4, 2012 » Add the first comment.

Personal injury occurs when an individual injures their body, mind or incur emotion pain. Although legally the most common type of personal injury claims involve traffic accidents, individuals may also seek out claims for personal injury accidents sustained at both work and home, tripping accidents, assault accidents, wrongful death, product defect accidents, medical malpractice and even holiday accidents. If individuals can prove that their sustained personal injury was a result of the negligence of another party, then they may be entitled to monetary compensation. Most personal injuries fall under a legal term known as a tort.

What is a tort?

A tort is essentially a civil wrong – when an individual has violated their duty to others as established under general law, a tort has been committed. Specifically, a tort has been committed when an individual, either deliberately or carelessly, causes harm or loss to an individual and/or their property.

Generally, legitimate tort lawsuits should contain four crucial elements: The presence of a legal duty owed by one individual to another, a breach of duty by that individual, the “proximate cause” of damages suffered by the other individual being attributable to that breach of duty, and any resulting damages sustained by the individual. Because personal injury is a type of tort, individuals injured by a tort are entitled to compensation for loss of earnings, pain and suffering, and medical expenses.

Types of Torts

Several specific types of torts exist, with the most common being:

Intentional Torts

Intentional torts occur when the tortfeasor, or an individual who commits the tort, commits a deliberate or intentional act. In order to a lawsuit to be successful, the individual must prove that the tortfeasor acted in substantial certainty of knowing that an injury would result due to his or her actions. Common examples of intentional torts are trespassing, assault, and battery.

Negligent Torts

Negligent torts, the most common type of tort, occur when an individual fails to act as a reasonable person to another individual that he or she owes a duty to, which subsequently results in an injury. In order for a lawsuit to be successful, the injured party must prove that the tortfeasor owed a duty to them, and violated it, which resulted in them being injured. The injured party must also establish that the injury was a foreseeable result of the tortfeasor’s actions. Common examples of negligent torts include medical malpractice, auto accidents, and slip and fall accidents.

Strict Liability Torts

Strict liability is a legal doctrine in tort law, which makes an individual responsible for any damage or loss that is a result of his or her actions regardless of fault or intent. Strict liability commonly applies to activities that are inherently dangerous, i.e. dog bites, storing hazardous materials, and defectively manufactured products or drugs.

Products Liability

Personal injuries may also result from dangerous or defective goods or products. Products liability refers to the area of law concerning the liability of manufacturers and sellers of dangerous or defective goods and products. Under products liability laws, manufacturers, distributors, suppliers, and retailers can be held responsible for any injuries incurred as a result of using those products. Three different categories of products liability claims exist: Manufacturing defect, design defect, and failure to warn.

Manufacturing Defect Claims

With manufacturing defect claims, injured customers are not required to prove negligence, meaning that the manufacturer is legally held responsible for allowing a defective product to enter the marketplace. Thus, if a consumer is injured by a defective product, he or she may seek out legal monetary compensation from the manufacturer.

Design Defect Claims

With design defect claims, design defects are considered to be intentional, because the defect is inherent in the design of the product. If a consumer uses the product in an intended manner, and is injured by the product, then the consumer may be entitled to compensation from the company responsible for designing the flawed product.

Failure to Warn Claims

Manufacturers are required to warn consumers about known dangers, and can be found negligent if the warning is inadequate, manufacturers fail to warn consumers about all known risks, or if the warning is not adequately brought to the attention of the consumer. If a consumer is injured by a product because the warning label was non-existent or inadequate, the consumer may be entitled to monetary compensation from the manufacturer of the product.

Personal Injury Attorneys

Because so many types of personal injuries fall under a variety of different torts, individuals should seek out an experience personal injury attorney if they wish to put forth a lawsuit against another individual or company. An experienced personal injury attorney will be able to decide if the lawsuit has substance, and will also be able to gather evidence to build a strong case accordingly. In most cases, a structured settlement, or a financial or insurance arrangement, is usually reached between the two parties.

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