The personal injury law is also referred to as the Torte Law. It encompasses a wide range of scenarios in which an individual has suffered some form of injury due to the carelessness or negligence of another person. The injury can be physical or psychological. The Torte Law also covers cases of wrongful deaths – that is injuries that turned fatal.
A typical personal injury case starts off with the plaintiff suing the defendant for the injury caused and seeks monetary compensation for the same. The compensation is generally referred to as damages.
Below are some of the common situations where the personal injury law holds ground:
- Accidents due to a car crash, collision with motorbikes, trucks or pedestrians.
- Cases of consumer product liability such as injury caused due to the use of defective products, fake medicines or recalled products.
- Cases of premises liability such as injuries arising due to any slip or fall.
- Defamation cases that damages the reputation of an individual and causes emotional distress to an individual.
- Injuries sustained due to hazardous substances such as chemicals or explosives.
The Torte Law primarily focuses on the damage inflicted on the person. Even though there may be damage to property in some cases like car accidents, the law centers its attention on the individual first and later on the damaged property.
Different basis of personal injury cases
The most common basis of claim in any personal injury case is negligence. The act of negligence occurs when the plaintiff suffers an injury as result of the defendant’s failure of meeting his/her legal obligation of ensuring the plaintiff’s safety.
In order to win the claim, the plaintiff has to establish the below points in a court of law:
- The defendant was responsible for ensuring the safety of the plaintiff
- The defendant failed to ensure the safety of the plaintiff
- The cause of the injury was due to lapse on part of the defendant.
- As result of which the plaintiff suffered injuries.
Apart from negligence, strict liability and intentional acts also form the basis of some personal injury claims.
Strict liability is applied in cases where an individual suffers injury as a direct consequence of the manufacturing or design defect of the product. Strict liability is usually applied in cases related to consumer product liability.
Intentional acts are very rare and are applied in cases where the defendant physically assaults the plaintiff or in cases of false imprisonment.
Different types of damages
A personal injury case that goes on trial is heard either by a judge or a jury. They listen to both the parties before arriving at any judgments. If the plaintiff has established that the defendant is responsible for the negligence, the judge or jury will calculate the total compensation. The damages are classified into the below two categories:
- General damages
It includes physical pain, impairment, disfigurement, mental duress etc. General damages are hard to quantify as there is no barometer for measuring a person’s sufferings and pain. The court determines the amount by taking into consideration the severity of the injury.
- Special damages
It includes medical expenses, loss of wage, replacement or repair of damaged property etc. The main purpose of special damages is to compensate the plaintiff for their losses. This is fairly easier to calculate than general damages as a dollar value is available for the loss.
As going on trial can be a time consuming process, arbitration or mediation is the more popular approach for settling personal injury cases. Here, the defendant and the plaintiff work with each other and decide on a settlement amount.
It is to be noted that according to the statute of limitations that is applicable in a few states, the plaintiff has a fixed time window within which he/she can sue the defendant. Once the specified duration elapses the case gets dismissed.