What is a Personal Injury?

what is a personal injury

Many hear the term “personal injury” but wonder, “what is a personal injury?” A personal injury falls under the classification of a tort civil lawsuit. It allows a person suffering injuries to file a civil lawsuit with the intent of recovering “damages” for their losses.

A tort is an omission or action that causes a person to suffer injury or harm. It is civil wrongdoing that the courts impose liability on. This can be the result of a person taking negligent action, a manufacturer selling defective products, and more.

When you consider it can be everything from a slip and fall, car accident, work injuries, and more, everyone is at risk of becoming the victim of a personal injury tort. Many people don’t know what their legal rights are and fail to take action following an injury. One of the biggest mistakes they make is not hiring a personal injury attorney.

Keep reading for everything you need to know about the types of personal injury and what you need to do if you or a loved one becomes a victim.

What Is a Personal Injury?

In California, the legal definition of personal injury is set forth in the California Code of Civil Procedure §1714(a), and §1714(2). The law states that everyone has responsibility for both their willful acts and also for injuries they cause to another person. If the person who suffers the injury is under age 21 a lawsuit may be filed on their behalf.

There are three areas in which a personal injury lawsuit may be filed.

1. Negligence

This is the most frequent reason for filing a personal injury lawsuit. When filing a lawsuit your personal injury lawyer will need to show that the elements of negligence are met:

  • That the defendant had a duty (to drive safely, maintain the property, etc.)
  • That the defendant breached their duty when they failed to act in a safe and reasonable manner
  • That the defendant’s breach of their duty is the direct and proximate cause of the injuries the Plaintiff suffers
  • That because of the defendant’s negligent breach of duty the Plaintiff is suffering damages

Your personal injury attorney will then list your damages, which may include medical, wage loss, and more.

2. Intentional Wrongs

This is a personal injury that is the result of an intentional act against the victim/plaintiff. Intentional torts include:

  • Intentionally inflicting emotional distress
  • Assault
  • Battery
  • False imprisonment

Many believe that assault and battery are part of the same action because the terms are often heard together. In reality, they are two separate things:

Assault—an action that causes another to be fearful of imminent physical harm

Battery—the physical harm intentionally done to another person

When you are the victim of an assault and battery, there will likely be criminal prosecution against the person who harmed you. If you wish to recover damages for personal injuries you sustain during an assault and battery, that will be a civil lawsuit claim of intentional tort.

To prove intentional tort your attorney will file the complaint showing that the defendant was acting with intent to cause harm. Another position may be that the defendant’s actions were so dangerous or reckless that they should have known harm would result.

The lawsuit must include the elements of the lawsuit, which are the same as negligence. The defendant had a duty and that they breached that duty, causing injury. As a result of those injures the plaintiff is suffering damages.

3. Strict Liability

This holds a person liable for their actions. Liability is regardless of the person’s intent in exercising their actions. There are three strict liability categories.

  • Wild Animal Escape—when a defendant was keeping wild animals that escaped their confinement, resulting in damage or injury
  • Dangerous Activities—the defendant was engaging in abnormally dangerous activities, resulting in damage or injury
  • Certain product liability actions

An example of product liability is if a defect causes personal injury. Even though the defect is not intentional, the manufacturer is liable for the injuries their product caused.

In a strict liability case, your personal injury attorney will need to prove three elements. They must show in the pleadings that there was a defect in a product. That the defect actually and proximately is the cause of the plaintiff’s injury. The third element is that the defect made the product unreasonably dangerous.

What Are Personal Injury Causes of Action?

Personal injuries may be physical harm to the body or non-body harm. For example, a person may suffer severe life-altering injuries as the result of:

  • Assault
  • Automobile accidents
  • Battery
  • Medical malpractice
  • Nursing home abuse
  • Product defect accidents
  • Workplace accidents

A person can also suffer non-body personal injuries if they are subjected to defamation, malicious prosecution, invasion of privacy, false detention, false arrest, false imprisonment, or intentional infliction of emotional distress.

In California, a cause of action is the facts or legal theories that give you the right to seek legal remedies for your injuries.

What Are Damages?

Damages are monetary awards the plaintiff receives for the losses they incur as a result of the defendant’s actions or neglect. When the plaintiff wins their case the defendant will be ordered to compensate the plaintiff with a monetary payment.

The purpose of damages is to financially restore the plaintiff for the loss their injury caused. This may include medical expenses, lost wages, replacement services, expenses for traveling to medical treatment facilities, mental/emotional distress, and pain and suffering.

A full restoration may not be possible, depending on the extent of the injuries. The severity of the injuries and the extent to which they are permanent, and life-altering will increase the monetary award. There are three types of civil damages you may receive:

  • Compensatory Damages—compensation for out-of-pocket expenses including medical bills, loss of wages, costs to cover property damage, and legal fees
  • General Damages—payment for non-financial damages including pain and suffering
  • Punitive Damages—payment for losses resulting from the gross negligence of the defendant

Negligence is a careless mistake or failure to be attentive, resulting in injury. Gross negligence is when a person’s actions are deliberate and reckless with complete disregard for the safety of others.

Schedule a Consultation

When you are wondering “what is a personal injury and does my situation meet the qualifications” you need to contact Sweet Lawyers to schedule a free consultation.

Our personal injury lawyers have more than 40 years of experience and a 98% success rate. The consultation is 100% fee, and there are no attorney fees unless we win. Call us today at 800-674-7854 to discuss your case.

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