There are many fields of law. Their names are self-descriptive for the most part. Corporate law deals with corporations. Constitutional law deals with the document George Washington once called “the guide which I will never abandon.” Animal law, as you probably correctly assume, has nothing to do with admiralty law.
Personal injury law isn’t named quite so straightforwardly. For example, suppose you were attacked by a wild animal, or you were unlucky enough to get struck by a meteorite. Either of these misfortunes could cause grave personal injury – but when they don’t involve the actions or inactions of another person they are both acts of God and would not fall under the scope of personal injury law.
Personal injury law deals with torts: civil wrongs which injure other people. Whereas only the government can bring a criminal action against an individual, an individual can bring a tort action against another party.
Personal injury law deals with three types of torts: intentional, negligence and strict liability.
- Intentional torts require the defendant to have harmed the plaintiff on purpose. Battery is the most obvious example: if someone intends to physically harm you – and does – then you have a sound basis to file an action against them.
- Negligence torts require the defendant to have acted carelessly or failed to have taken reasonable steps to prevent the plaintiff from becoming injured. Medical malpractice, slip and fall incidents and auto accidents are all examples of common negligence torts.
- Strict liability torts do not require the plaintiff to have been injured as a result of the defendant’s intent or negligence. Strict liability typically covers cases in which the plaintiff was injured by an animal, abnormally dangerous activity, or defective product which the defendant was ultimately responsible for.
Which Accidents Can You Seek Compensation for Under Personal Injury Law?
Like every other field of law, personal injury law is nuanced and quite complicated. There are always exceptions to any rule. But broadly speaking, personal injury law lets you seek compensation for any tort which was fully (or partially) someone else’s fault.
Let’s review some of the most common types of personal injury cases to give you a more solid idea of what personal injury law covers.
- Auto accidents – These are so common that it isn’t unusual for a personal injury lawyer to exclusively practice as a car accident lawyer. Perhaps you were struck by a driver who had no intention of harming you, but failed to obey the rules of the road. Perhaps you were struck by a drunk driver, who may face criminal charges in addition to the case you bring against them. Or perhaps you were injured because the manufacturer of your vehicle unknowingly installed a defective part. All of these examples would fall within the confines of personal injury law.
- Medical malpractice – Doctors are highly trained, but they aren’t infallible. They may not have meant to injure their patient by misdiagnosing them or failing to diagnose a dangerous condition. Likewise, they may not have intended to make an error during surgery or prescribe the wrong medication. Even so, such negligence is common and can cause injury, which is why personal injury law frequently covers medical malpractice.
- Product liability – Design defects. Manufacturing defects. Insufficient warnings about the dangers associated with using a product. These are all common causes for product liability claims: your legal recourse for any injury you might have sustained as a result of using a consumer good.
- Workplace accidents – An employer has a duty to take every reasonable precaution to prevent their employees from becoming injured on the job. Their failure to do so can constitute negligence. But even if your employer isn’t at fault for causing your injury, you can still file a workers’ compensation claim. (Utah employers are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance for this very reason.)
- Premises liability – Owners and operators of public establishments must take reasonable care to ensure that their premises are safe for guests. When a slipping hazard, tripping hazard, or defective elevator or staircases injures a guest, the owner/operator may be deemed to have exercised negligence.
- Dog bites – According to Utah State Law, “a person who owns or keeps a dog is liable for an injury caused by the dog, regardless of whether: (i) the dog is vicious or mischievous; or (ii) the owner knows the dog is vicious or mischievous.” In other words, if someone’s dog bites you, you do not have to prove negligence; you only have to prove they own the dog.
These are only a small sample of accidents that fall under personal injury law. To reiterate: if you are injured as a result of someone else’s action – or failure to take reasonable action – then you may be able to file a claim against them.
Do you need an injury lawyer in the greater Logan, UT area? Then we welcome you to contact Hillyard, Anderson & Olsen today! Our attorneys have helped thousands of our clients since our foundation in 1960. We are standing by to determine whether you have a case, and offer your best chance at receiving fair compensation if you do.