When a lot of people think of personal injury, the first thing that comes to mind is bodily harm. While this is definitely part of it, personal injury is a legal term that has much broader implications. It is more helpful to think of personal injury as any civil wrong that causes harm to a person. Damage to a person’s emotional state, finances, or even reputation all fall under the broader category of personal injury.
Types of Personal Injury Cases
There’s a vast array of personal injury types that today’s law experts are ready to tackle. Common types of personal injury cases include:
- Motor vehicle accidents
- Workplace accidents
- Product or premises liability
- Medical malpractice
- Wrongful death
- Defamation and slander
This list, while not exhaustive, serves to illustrate that there are many different types of personal injury. When looking over the list, one can see that all of these types of cases share a commonality; they are all types of civil wrongs that cause harm to another person.
Motor Vehicle Accidents
Motor vehicle accidents are one of the most common and straightforward personal injury cases. Whoever was responsible for the accident, whether they blew a stop sign, were distracted while driving or driving at dangerous speeds, and caused harm to another has committed a civil wrong and is legally responsible.
Workplace accidents can be trickier than some other types of personal injury cases. An employer is not responsible for accidents that are a result of carelessness or negligence on the part of the employee. For example, a group of construction workers who think it might be fun to use a forklift as an elevator is pretty much on their own.
Employers are liable for workplace accidents when employees are injured carrying out their job duties in a manner consistent with safe, accepted practices. If, for example, that same group of construction workers is hit by a falling beam or falls into a deep, unmarked ditch, the elements of negligence and liability are practically irrefutable.
Product or Premises Liability
When a company sells a product that causes harm, they may be liable, but the company is only responsible if the consumer is injured while they are using the product in accordance with its intended use and following the manufacturer’s directions. For example, someone who swallows an entire bottle of aspirin cannot turn around and sue Bayer.
Likewise, premises liability applies to injuries sustained on the premises like, for example, a golf course. Just like product liability, the plaintiff must have been using the premises in a way that was not negligent. Swimming for an out of bounds ball and meeting up with an alligator is likely not the golf course’s responsibility, but a blatantly crooked and dangerous cart path certainly is.
Medical malpractice is committed when a physician or other healthcare professional violates the “standard of care.” The “standard of care” is complex, but it is basically the treatment one can expect as determined by the larger medical community.
For practical purposes, it may be more helpful to think of wrongful death as more of an enhancement than its own type of personal injury. If there is a loss of life in any personal injury case, the responsible party is also guilty of wrongful death.
Defamation and Slander
These may be the trickiest types of personal injury cases. The crux is this: Anyone who wrongly diminishes the reputation of another has committed civil harm and can be held liable. Good examples would be false criminal allegations or fraudulent negative business reviews like fake Yelp reviews. The tricky part is determining the extent of the harm, which could be both personal and financial, and determining just compensation.