Personal Injury Defined

Personal injury is any harm to an individual caused by the negligent actions or inactions of another person, an entity, or an organization which has a duty of care towards that individual. The key to this definition is the duty of care.

A person, entity, or organization cannot be said to be negligent when such person, entity, or organization has no relationship with the injured or harmed individual. For example, if a child accidentally swallows mommy’s medication for epilepsy and has seizures that eventually results in irreversible brain damage, the drug company is not liable for the injury to the child because it has no relationship with that child, and therefore has no duty of care. However, the mother may be found to be criminally negligent as well as civilly liable for the child’s condition.

Given this qualification of duty of care, personal injury nevertheless encompasses a wide range of circumstances. There are lots of ways that someone can suffer an injury, from a wet patch in a grocery, to a defective drug, to being involved in an accident caused by an intoxicated boat operator, and be eligible for compensation from the at-fault party. However, it is far from a simple matter.

Case law concerning personal injury is still evolving. It was only since the 1970s that personal injury litigation became popular in the U.S., and since then tort law has become increasingly complex. In personal injury litigation, it is the plaintiff who has the burden to prove negligence as well as to provide evidence of serious injury within the statute of limitations, all prerequisites for a viable claim. The tort law varies from state to state, so the personal injury lawyer hired to pursue the claim must have the knowledge and experience to execute the task of protecting the rights of the plaintiff as well as sue for the maximum compensation possible in an effective manner.

Proving Negligent Security

Premises liability is generally difficult to prove, and in most cases the plaintiff is found to have been at least partially to blame for the incident that caused injury. As a result, many premises liability lawsuits end in a largely defense verdict. An exception would be claims of negligent security, which is usually easy to prove based on the presence or absence of security measures.

Particular types of property owners or lessors which license or invite people to be on the premises as a matter of course take on the responsibility of taking steps to prevent reasonably foreseeable harm from coming to their licensees or invitees. These include commercial establishments, apartment buildings, schools, and banks. Typically, this duty is discharged with hiring security personnel or outsourcing the job to a security company, installing closed-circuit cameras, and implementing security checks and policies.

Most cases of negligent security claims purport that if the security measures had been adequate to cope with the risks of harm or injury as indicated by the circumstances surrounding the establishment, the injury or harm would not have occurred. For example, the owner of a bar where patrons frequently engage in physical altercations after a certain level of intoxication should have a policy to cut off obviously inebriated patrons and to have a sufficient number of bouncers to head off any acts of violence. Barroom fights can lead to severe brain injuries.

Liability is dependent on the degree in which harm can be foreseen based on past incidents and the characteristics of the surrounding area and the premises itself. While a fight could erupt without warning in the above example, the bar owner knows or should have known that sudden eruptions of physical violence are a distinct possibility, or foreseeable.

When a licensee or invitee suffers injury or even death because the property owner or lessor was negligent in addressing the risk of harm despite its foreseeability, premises liability may apply. Consult with a negligent security lawyer with a thorough knowledge of the relevant state’s laws on premises liability and have the case assessed.

Insurance Bad Faith

Insurance companies are all the same when it comes to claims. They would rather not pay anything. This holds true whether filing a claim for property damage after a hurricane in Oklahoma or for medical expenses after a car accident in Louisville. Insurance companies are eager to take money from policyholders in the form of premiums, but not so eager to pay it back out when the time comes.

Of course, it is good business practice to do the proper investigations to ensure that a claim in legitimate and the coverage in order. The process can take time, especially with claims that are complicated, or when claims come in at the same time, such as when a large number of people are affected by a natural calamity or fire. The insurer may also send in an insurance adjuster to determine the extent of the damage and determine the appropriate payment. This is all perfectly legal and within the insurers’ rights.

However, when the delay is unreasonably extended, when the payment is much less than expected, or if the claim is denied for not satisfactory reason, these are indications of insurance bad faith. Insurance companies function as a fiduciary of the policyholders’ premiums, which imply the trust that when the time comes, the policyholders can expect financial relief.

Insurers are required to act in good faith, and that includes processing legitimate claims in a timely and fair manner. When an insurance company fails to live up to their end of the contract, they are considered in breach of their duty as well as the insurance contract. As such, they are civilly and possibly criminally liable. Policyholders have the right under civil law to sue the insurer for insurance bad faith, but it is not at all easy. They will need the expertise of a lawyer with a thorough knowledge of the way insurance works and the language of insurance policies to bring it off successfully.

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