A personal injury occurs when someone causes harm to another
person's body, mind, or emotions. It does not include damage to property,
finances, or other assets.
What are common causes for a personal injury case?
Accidents at home, on the road, or at work
Accidents due to product defects
Medical negligence claims: includes medical and dental
Industrial disease claims: includes occupational injuries
like mesothelioma, occupational stress, and repetitive strain injuries
What are damages in personal injury cases?
There are two types of damages: special damages and general
Special damages are financial in nature, such as hospital
bills or lost wages.
General damages are non-financial losses, which include pain
and suffering, loss of consortium, defamation, and emotional distress:
Pain and Suffering
Pain and suffering is the kind of physical and/or mental
loss caused by a personal injury. Pain and suffering also refers to the
possible future effects of a personal injury. Keep in mind that mental pain and
suffering includes negative emotions like emotional distress, anxiety, and shock.
Afflictions such as sexual dysfunction, depression, and post-traumatic stress
disorder also fall under mental pain and suffering.
Loss of Consortium
Loss of consortium is the loss of the ability to have a
relationship with an injured person. Usually it applies to a spouse in a
marriage, but can apply to children too.
Defamation occurs when another person's character or
reputation is hurt. Words like libel or slander are commonly used in reference
to a defamation case. Libel means that a falsehood was said with written or
printed words or pictures. Slander means the same thing except that spoken
words, sounds, sign language or gestures were used. Defamation can result in
lost wages and pain and suffering.
Emotional distress describes the mental health issues your
personal injury caused. Historically, courts awarded emotional distress only in
cases where physical harm was evident. However, recent cases recognize that
emotional distress can come from personal injuries in which there is little to
no physical evidence such as sexual harassment or defamation. These sorts of
cases usually require a mental health professional to verify the emotional
What is a statute of limitations?
A statute of limitations is the period of time you have to
file a claim. Personal injury cases have a statute of limitations that vary by
state and cause. The time limit usually starts on the day the accident or
injury occurred and can last anywhere from 2 to 5 years. If you do not follow
the guidelines for your state's statute of limitations, you may lose your right
to file a claim.
How do you know if you have a case?
Personal injury cases require that you have an injury with
medical documentation. This includes mental health injuries documented by a
certified mental health professional. If the personal injury case is based on
negligence, the negligence must be documented in addition to evidence that it
caused the accident or illness.
Cases like assault, theft, or emotional distress are usually
classified as an intentional tort or wrong. Intentional torts require evidence
that the defendant knowingly caused damages. Personal injury cases hold a
defendant as strictly liable when someone is hurt in a dangerous activity like
demolition or hazardous waste removal. Strict liability claims do not require
negligence, fault, or intention. There are also certain circumstances that may
disqualify a person from filing a personal injury claim, like signing a release
waiver for a recreational activity.
To determine if you have a case, your claim must fall within
the statute of limitations for your state for the personal injury cause. A case
must also fulfill the requirements of proof and documentation for your type of
personal injury case.