Personal injury law is also referred to as tort law. It includes a number of different types of injury accidents, but the main theme of any personal injury case is that the victim was injured as a result of negligent conduct by another party.
Generally, personal injury law principles mandate that an injured party prove certain elements by the standard of a preponderance of the evidence; or evidence that is more credible than that opposed to it. The first element is that the responsible party must have owed a duty of care toward the injured party, or must act as a reasonable person would have acted under similar circumstances. For example, anyone who drives a motor vehicle owes a duty of reasonable care to other motorists and pedestrians. Another example is that a designer and manufacturer of a product owes a duty of care to users of the product that it is safe to use, or that explicit warnings be clearly conveyed to users of any foreseeable risk of harm.
The second element to be proved is that the liable party breached his or her duty of care. In the auto example, demonstrating that the culpable party ran a red light, was speeding, following too closely, or was inattentive can be a breach of his or her legal duty of care.
Third, there is the element of causation in that the plaintiff must show that the breach was the cause of the accident.
Finally, there is the element of damages, wherein the plaintiff must prove that he or she was injured and suffered damages, such as pain or economic losses, and that the claimed injury or injuries were caused by the accident.
Personal Injury Law Types
These personal injury law cases are also referred to as slip and fall cases. A property owner or possessor of the land has a duty of care to those persons who enter onto the property to keep it safe of defects or unreasonable risks of harm and to inspect it. There is an element of notice in these cases in that the owner must have had notice of the condition, either by being informed of it or that it existed long enough that notice is presumed and should have been discovered, or this element may not be satisfied.
Depending on the laws of the jurisdiction where the accident occurred, the duty of care by the premises owner or possessor in these cases may rest on the status of the plaintiff and whether he or she was an invitee, licensee, or a trespasser.
Any product, including a toaster, chain saw, ladder, medical device, or automobile, must be safely designed and manufactured free of defects or have written warnings that clearly and expressly indicate any foreseeable risks of harm. Also, the consumer or plaintiff must have used the product in the manner intended, or the designer or manufacturer may not be liable for any injury that results.
If a defect is found, then the designer, manufacturer, or wholesaler can be held strictly liable since its use can be unreasonably dangerous to use, regardless of the degree of care exercised by the defendant.
This is a unique area of personal injury law with different timelines and conditions for filing. Physicians are held to a certain standard of competence. Their conduct must conform to the degree of care and skill practiced by a reasonably competent physician in the same medical field and under similar circumstances in the same locality. For instance, would a reasonably competent general practitioner (GP) have diagnosed esophageal cancer in a patient who exhibited certain symptoms? A GP in rural Mississippi also might not be held to the same standards as a GP in New York City.