What Is A Personal Injury, Legally Speaking?
Anyone who has watched local television for more than one hour of their life has seen ads for personal injury attorneys. You may be wondering, however, what is a personal injury from a legal viewpoint? There are four different major classes of injuries so let's find out about them.
This is the group of claims that you don't have to be a lawyer to understand, at least in the simplest terms. When someone else's actions, usually in the form of negligence, recklessness, wanton disregard, or malice, leave a person hurt, the injured party may have grounds for demanding compensation. This means they can claim money to pay for their medical bills, therapy, lost wages, and other expenses caused by the injury.
Common types of cases involving physical injuries include but are not limited to auto accident, slip-and-fall, pedestrian accident, product liability, exposure, and medical malpractice claims. These are the cases where people suffer broken bones, internal organ damage, scarring, or debilitation. Presuming someone had a duty to prevent the injuries from happening, these cases are potentially compensable.
Pain and Suffering
The physical injury itself is but one part of the larger case. Most injuries lead to some form of pain and suffering. For example, someone who has a massive burn scar from a personal injury may also suffer long-lasting nerve and tissue damage. Perhaps they were burned by hot soup at a restaurant. This hypothetical individual would have the right to seek compensation to make up for the numerous days of agony they have experienced and will continue to experience. Personal injury attorneys frequently ask their clients to document their pain and suffering in journals. This information is then included in claims and suits to provide a more detailed picture to claims adjusters or jurors.
Harm does not stop at the damage done to the body. A person may suffer for years because they've been traumatized. For example, the survivor of a catastrophic pedestrian incident where they were hit by a truck might suffer PTSD. They may struggle for years to even leave the house because merely hearing a vehicle passing by serves to retraumatize them.
A somewhat odd category of personal injury is anything involving reputational damage. Defamatory remarks are sometimes compensable if they caused provable economic harm. This is especially the case if the injured party was not a public figure who had opened themselves up to reputational damage.