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.

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