Personal injury is a generic legal term meaning an injury to one’s mind, body or emotions rather than an actual physical injury to property. In Anglo-Saxon jurisdictions the word is often used to describe a sort of civil lawsuit in which an individual plaintiff has actually been injured by another person. This has caused the term to be confused with the term “tort.” Tort, in its most common usage, refers to wrong-doing for which monetary compensation is awarded.
The issue of who is to blame for an action is at the heart of personal injury law. In the context of the law, if someone else is guilty of causing injury, the plaintiff must prove that he or she was the victim of wrongful conduct. If someone else is found to be liable for the same act, the defendant is then required to prove that he or she did not know or should have known of the conduct in question. (In a criminal case, all three requirements are usually satisfied.)
A plaintiff in a personal injury lawsuit will usually need to establish three main elements: that the defendant acted in a wrongful manner, that they knew or should have known of the conduct in question, and that they failed to prevent the injury. Once those elements have been established, a plaintiff may proceed with a lawsuit to recover damages. Recovering damages is typically the focus of the personal injury lawsuit. The concept of personal injury law can get complex, however. Because the law covers corporations as well as individuals, it may sometimes become difficult to determine whether a corporation should be held responsible for the actions of an agent or employee of that corporation.
In many instances, personal injury cases will end up being settled out of court. For example, if an automobile accident victim sues another person for personal injuries, the case will almost certainly be settled out of court. If the personal injury lawsuit ends up going to trial, the plaintiff would almost certainly receive a judgment for the damages they have suffered. Sometimes, defendants will settle out of court for less money than they are actually liable for. (This is referred to as property damage compensation.)
The most common law that governs the personal injury law is the common law of negligence. This concept draws from the nature of the work-related industries that comprise much of our economy. The traditional common law remedies for personal injury law suits dealt with negligence claims involving work-related injuries. Under this principle, if an employer or an employee does not properly provide for their employees, they may be held liable for any injuries that occur on the job. Common law negligence claims also cover situations where employers fail to ensure the proper operation or maintenance of their buildings or other properties.
When people lose loved ones in a car accident or suffer similar injuries in a workplace accident, they may be eligible for monetary damages under a wrongful death claim. Under a wrongful death action, surviving family members can claim financial damages to compensate them for lost wages and medical bills, as well as funeral expenses and other damages. The surviving spouse, children, or dependent parents of a deceased person may also claim damages. Another type of monetary claim available from a personal injury lawsuit involves suffering caused by a defective product. Under this theory of damages, manufacturers or suppliers of products can be held responsible for failing to warn consumers about possible side effects or dangerous conditions attached to their products. The courts have also established a common law rule of negligence that applies to products such as toys or medicines.