Legal Guide

What Exactly is a Personal Injury?

A personal injury is an affliction suffered on a person's body, mind, or emotions following negligence, gross negligence, reckless behavior, or intentional misconduct. Personal injures often happen when another party is negligent at work, at home, on the road, at play, or while receiving medical care. If someone else's recklessness causes a personal injury, the victim has the right to seek compensation.

A personal injury lawsuit is premised on tort law. Personal injury lawsuits often stem from the following.

Medical Malpractice

Medical malpractice occurs in hospitals or healthcare settings when a health professional's negligent actions cause harm to a patient. In most cases, the professional's actions violate the recognized standard of care. If a patient can prove that the medical provider owed a duty of care, that duty was breached, the breach caused the injury, and the injury resulted in damages, he or she may be able to recover compensation. Doctors, dentists, nurses, surgeons, lab technicians, and other healthcare providers can be held liable for injuries caused by medical malpractice. Additionally, hospitals, clinics, and similar facilities can sometimes be held liable when their employees are negligent.

Forms of medical practice include but are not limited to:

  • Misdiagnosis or incomprehensive diagnosis
  • Unnecessary surgery or wrong-site surgery
  • Surgical errors
  • Improper prescription or dosage
  • Premature discharge and null follow up/aftercare

Nursing Home Abuse

Nursing home abuse or neglect is the maltreatment, substandard care, or breach of duty that harms a resident. Types of nursing home abuse and neglect include but are not limited to:

  • Medication type and dosage errors
  • Dehydration and malnourishment
  • Physical, sexual, or emotional abuse
  • Poor quality care from inadequately-trained staff
  • Unsanitary, unsafe, or uncomfortable conditions that lead to infections, slip and fall accidents, or other health risks

Motor Vehicle Crashes

Approximately six million motor vehicle crashes happen in the US every year. Car accidents often cause minor injuries, severe injuries, or loss of life. Minor car accident injuries include soft tissue injuries, whiplash, and ligament tears. Severe injuries from auto accidents include brain damage, spinal injuries, paralysis, and bone fractures.

Where negligence, misconduct, or recklessness can be proved, victims have grounds to pursue compensation.

Motorcycle accidents led to 89,000 injuries and 5,172 deaths in 2017. That figure makes up at least 15 % of all traffic deaths. A majority of motorcycle accidents involve passenger vehicles. These crashes often cause head injuries, neck injuries, fractures, and deaths.

Personal injuries may also be suffered at sea on a boat. Common boat injuries include falling overboard, repetitive motion injuries, and fractures. The tort law principles apply in these cases as well, and the process of determining liability is similar to what happens in motor vehicle accident cases. Victims may be able to sue a negligent boating company, lifeguard, boat operator or passenger, or the boat manufacturer. In some cases, more than one party may be able to be held liable.

A trucking accident injury also qualifies as a personal injury. Truck accidents, just like car accidents, can cause soft tissue injuries, fractures, disability, pain and suffering, and even death. Victims who are injured in truck accidents can file a personal injury lawsuit if another person or entity caused the crash. Injured people can sue a negligent car driver, pedestrian, truck driver, trucking company, or truck manufacturer to recover compensation for their medical bills, lost past and future wages, pain and suffering, and other losses that were caused by the accident.

In personal injury cases, victims may also be awarded compensation for punitive damages when the defendant's behavior that caused the injuries is particularly egregious or outrageously careless, like that of a repeat DUI offender in a car accident case. Unlike compensatory damages, which are designed to make the victim whole, punitive damages are intended to punish the negligent party and deter any future wrongdoing.

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