Accidents happen all the time. Be it a car crash, motorcycle or pedestrian accident, injuries happen, and more often than not, they’re due to someone’s negligence.
Personal injury law allows you to seek monetary compensation for your injuries when someone else was at fault for the accident. But not all cases can have solid legal grounds. So it begs the question, how do you know if your situation qualifies as a personal injury?
What is considered personal injury
Personal injury includes any injury inflicted to a person’s body or mind due to the negligence of another party. Keywords here are body, mind, and negligence.
To have a legitimate personal injury claim, you must be able to prove that the other party’s action or inaction (negligence) led to the accident. Also, you must have sustained an injury to your body or mind, for example, trauma after an accident or wrongful death of a loved one.
Personal injury cases commonly include:
- Car accidents
- Truck accident
- Workplace accidents
- Pedestrian and motorcycle accidents
- Defective products causing severe bodily harm
- Slip and fall due to poor flooring surfaces in commercial properties
- Premises liability
- Dog bites
If you’ve sustained injury and believe someone was at fault for the accident, the best first step is to reach out to a personal injury law firm. After evaluating your case, your attorney can determine the right cause of action, whether to reach out to your insurance company or file a lawsuit against the at-fault party.
Determining legal responsibility for an accident is termed “liability” and can be pretty complicated. It ideally rests on the premise that someone was careless — negligent. Sometimes, there’s one party at fault; other times, you may also be partly at fault for your injuries. And there are times when it was sheer coincidence.
For car accidents, in particular, most states in the US adopt the no-fault law that allows you to seek compensation from your insurance regardless of who was at fault. So, whether it was a mere coincidence or not, you can be compensated for your injuries.
However, for other kinds of accidents, you must prove that someone was liable for your injuries before your personal injury claim can stand. If you were also partly at fault, the amount of compensation you get would depend on your level of liability compared to the defendant’s.
Factors determining liability
Notably, legal liability is based on the following:
If you were at a place where you were not supposed to be at the time of the accident, or you were in a place where you should have expected that kind of activity that caused the accident, then the person who caused the accident may not be liable for your injuries. The reason is that they didn’t owe you a duty of care in such situations.
If an accident occurs on a property because it wasn’t properly built or maintained, the owner may be held liable for not maintaining or building it up to standard.
If you sustain injury from a defective product, the manufacturer and seller could be held liable.
If the accident occurred because you were also careless, you could file a lawsuit. Still, your compensation will be reduced proportionally to the level of your negligence leading to the accident.
Understanding how your carelessness affects your claim
Be aware that even when you were partly at fault in an accident, you may still be entitled to compensation if the other party was also partly at fault.
Take this case scenario:
You were driving. You thought someone was about to cross the road, and you slammed the brakes hard. A vehicle hit you from behind, and you sustained injuries.
If the other driver was fully liable for the accident, let’s assume you were supposed to receive $100,000 as compensation. But on investigating, the court finds out that you had slammed your brakes, therefore forcing the other driver to hit you from behind. If you’d been going at a safer speed, you wouldn’t have had to slam the brakes so hard, and the accident may not have happened or been that severe. The court may tag your liability to 10%, reducing your compensation to $90,000 (90%) of the full claim. This is known as comparative liability.
Comparative liability is one reason you mustn’t shoulder full blame for an accident on the scene. Avoid saying, “I’m sorry, it’s all my fault, I shouldn’t have made that turn at the time I did.” Your words may be used against you later. Remember that the other party may also be at fault, and you’ll therefore be entitled to some compensation.