The law can be a tricky course to navigate, especially when you’re lost and don’t know your way. Having a Personal Injury lawsuit filed against you can be a nightmare. Between court and lawyer fees, as well as any settlements owed, a single lawsuit brought against you can literally be life changing. So it is important to know exactly what to be mindful of. For starters, Personal Injury is a legal term for any injury to the body, whether it is physical, mental, or emotional. It is a type of tort lawsuit which claims that injury has been sustained due to the negligence of another.
Personal Injury claims also take into account medical and dental accidents, which often lead to medical negligence claims, as well as industrial diseases which typically arise from working for a negligent employer. But whether you are a business owner, an employer, or are simply worried about how you may be at fault for a personal injury claim in your everyday life, read the following to determine the areas you need to be aware of.
You have to remember, a personal injury doesn’t have to occur at work nor at your home for you to be responsible. As such it’s worth knowing the most common and typical personal injury lawsuits which arise so that you may better be able to protect yourself.
Most Common Types of Personal Injury Claims
Traffic accidents in regards to potential Personal Injury Claims are those where a vehicle collides with another vehicle or pedestrian. If it is found that the accident occurred due to negligence on your part, and someone sustained injuries, you can have a personal injury lawsuit filed against you. You may believe that it was only an “accident.” But accidents occur due to negligence. If it was a vehicle malfunction, that has to be proven and even if so, you may still be held accountable.
Work accidents in regards to potential Personal Injury Claims are those where an employee becomes injured on the job due to the negligence of the employer. These can arise from slipping and falling, unsecured objects falling, the inhalation of harmful chemicals, being exposed to hazardous material, and really anything else where a person was injured while performing the tasks of their job.
As mentioned before, industrial diseases can occur when proper safety protocol is not followed. A few common diseases include asbestosis, peritoneal mesothelioma, emphysema, pneumoconiosis, silicosis, chronic bronchitis, asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and chronic obstructive airway disease. Other common injuries sustained on the job include vibration white finger, deafness, stress, dermatitis, and repetitive strains.
Tripping and Slipping Accidents
Tripping and slipping accidents can have personal injury claims arise in most places. No doubt you have heard of people slipping in super markets or restaurants on wet floor. Or people tripping down stairs which are not of regulation size. The thing to remember is that if it is possible for someone to become hurt by walking around your property, when you could have avoided the injury from occurring by taking some action, whether it be removing the threat or warning of its existence, you should certainly do so.
Any and all safety precautions should be taken, installing handrails, warning signs, or even temporarily marking certain sections of a building off limits should all be considered.
Assault claims in regards to personal injury occur when someone is physically, mentally, or emotionally attacked. Physical attack is easy to understand, and the damages are rather evident as they can be physically seen. But emotional or mental assaults are a bit vaguer. Harassment, bullying, and stalking can all cause emotional or mental anguish. These types of assault claims also cover those that are racial or sexually orientated.
Accidents in the home can include slipping on icy walkways, parts of a home that cause damage which were not up to city construction codes, hazardous objects or materials not properly stored, and even animal attacks. Really, you home is the hardest to determine where dangers lie, as since you live there, you know where to step, what to avoid touching, and how to properly pet Wishbone the German Shepard.
Though, people visiting or stopping by your home may not know of the pitfalls to avoid. As such, it is up to the home owner to ensure that any and all possible dangers are mitigated or at least made openly known.
Product defect personal injury lawsuits occur more frequently than you might imagine. Of course, we’ve all heard of the woman who was burned by McDonalds Coffee and compensated generously. This case actually had two product defect lawsuits. One was that the container and lid did not function properly causing it to spill, while the other was that the coffee was made too hot.
Then of course there was the Toyota Floor Mat and sudden acceleration fiasco and even Bridgestone tires that would blow out. If you own a business, it is difficult to know when something might go wrong with the products you sell, as even these large multi-million dollar companies know all too well. The best you can do is complete proper testing on all products well before they are sold to the public.
Compensatory Damages Common in Personal Injury Cases
In essence there are seven categories of compensation for damages caused by personal injury due to negligence. The specific category used depends on each individual case, but they cover every type of injury that may be sustained.
When medical compensation is awarded, it almost always includes any cost for medical care that was performed based on the accident. Not only does it cover care needed immediately, but any future costs that might arise as well.
When income compensation is awarded, it is offered to cover any loss of wages that might occur due to being injured. It not only covers income previously lost due to the accident, but any potential income lost in the future as well. This is considered “a loss of earning capacity.”
Property Loss Compensation
If through being injured, you lost or property was damaged, you can be reimbursed for the repair or replacement of those items. These include but are not limited to: vehicles, clothing, and personal affects. The amount to be reimbursed is based upon what the fair market value of that item was at the time of the accident.
Pain and Suffering Compensation
You may be compensated for any pain or suffering that may have occurred due to being injured. This will also take into consideration any pain or suffering that might linger on or remain for a long period of time.
Emotional Distress Compensation
When emotional distress occurs due to an accident, the psychological impact can be severe. As such, those injured can be compensated for having to endure through fear, anxiety, and/or sleep loss.
Loss of Enjoyment Compensation
When someone is severely injured, beyond the pain/emotional distress endured, wages lost, property damaged, and medical bills received, they will likely be unable to enjoy the same things on a day-to-day basis that they once did. These include hobbies, exercise, and all other recreational activities. As such, those injured are entitled to receive compensation for their loss of enjoyment, or in essence, for having to live with a lower quality of life.
Loss of Consortium Compensation
Finally, when someone becomes injured it may affect their home life dramatically. This includes their spouse, children, and other close relatives. For their spouse, if they are unable to keep up a sexual relationship, remain intimate, or somehow changes a rather healthy relationship in any way, they can be compensated. This can include all home care now dependent upon the spouse for completion.
Children are affected in that they may not have the same parent that they did before. An injured parent may not be able to play, teach, or help their child as they were once able to. However, often times, when loss of consortium cases goes through, the damages are awarded to the family members rather than the injured plaintiff. This makes sense as in this case, the damages aren’t directly against the injured person, but those that depend on them.
License: Royalty Free or iStock source: http://www.sxc.hu/photo/952313 The author of this piece is Damien S. Wilhelmi. If you enjoyed this article you can follow me on Twitter @CustParadigm. When I’m not writing about law advice for a local Personal Injury Lawyer, I can more recently be found skiing in the mountains of Colorado.