What is a Personal Injury Claim?
In order to fully understand personal injury law, or tort law, one must first understand the term “personal injury.” A personal injury exists as a result of someone else’s negligence or wrongdoing. Personal injury laws were created to protect the public from the effects others’ actions may have on their lives.
Physical injuries often are the result of:
- Car accidents
- Slip and fall accidents
- Trucking accidents
- Defective medical products
Emotional injuries, however, are also included within personal injury law, and you may be entitled to receive compensation even if you have not been physically injured. Emotional injuries may be suffered due to libel, slander, or defamation of character.
Elements of a Personal Injury Claim
Certain elements must be proven in order to have a valid personal injury claim. The plaintiff must prove Duty, Breach, Causation, and Damages.
Duty – Duty of care is a legal concept that stands for a person’s responsibility for their own actions. In most situations where an injury occurs as a direct result of the wrongful or unreasonable actions of another, the wrongdoer or negligent person will be held responsible for their actions. For example, drivers on public roadways are responsible for their actions and their effects on other drivers or pedestrians.
Breach – Once a duty is found, a breach must be proven. A breach occurs when someone fails to act reasonably under the circumstances. What is “reasonable” under the circumstances is reviewed on a case by case basis. For example, it is never reasonable to drive while intoxicated. In some situations however, what is reasonable can be less obvious. For example, it is usually reasonable to drive the speed limit on a public road but if it is extraordinarily foggy and visibility is poor the speed limit may be unreasonably fast under those particular circumstances.
Damages – Damages are the injuries that occur, whether it is an injury or death of a person or damage to property. After a duty and breach are established, there must be some damages suffered for a civil action to take place. For example, if a drunk driver speeds through a neighborhood while all the residents are asleep and does not hit any cars or pedestrians, there will be no civil cause of action even though the driver had a duty to behave reasonably. There must be an injury before a civil claim can be filed. Damages may include, but are not limited to, monetary damages such medical bills, loss of future wages, or emotional damages such as the loss of quality of life.
Causation – After a duty, breach, and injury are found, it must be shown that the injury resulted from the wrongful or unreasonable conduct of another. In other words, if the plaintiff would have suffered the injury even if the defendant had acted reasonably, causation does not exist. This can be the most difficult element to prove in a personal injury case.
The personal injury lawyers at The Cochran Firm – Dothan have extensive experience in handling all types of personal injury cases, including Auto Accidents, Medical Malpractice Cases, Spinal Cord and Brain Injury, Product Liability, Mesothelioma and Premises Liability. If you feel you have been injured by another, contact the lawyers at The Cochran Firm – Dothan today at 334-673-1555 to schedule a free case evaluation.