Personal injury law refers to the legal remedies and defenses involved in civil lawsuits brought as a result of wrongful conduct. In fact, the word “tort” comes from a Latin term meaning twist, wrong, or harm. In contrast to criminal law, a tort action does not involve the government prosecuting the wrongdoer. Rather, these cases involve a private plaintiff seeking compensation (usually money) for the harm caused by the defendant’s actions.
Once negligence has been established in a personal injury case, the defendant must pay the plaintiff for all injuries caused by the defendant’s actions. Certain types of damages are easy to calculate, such as property damage and medical bills. For other types, such as emotional distress and loss of earning capacity, expert testimony may be required. Punitive damages, meant to punish and deter particularly egregious conduct, may also be available.
Source – Guide to Tort Law
Torts fall into three general categories: intentional torts (e.g., intentionally hitting a person); negligent torts (e.g., causing an accident by failing to obey traffic rules); and strict liability torts (e.g., liability for making and selling defective products – see Products Liability). Intentional torts are wrongs that the defendant knew or should have known would result through his or her actions or omissions. Negligent torts occur when the defendant’s actions were unreasonably unsafe. Unlike intentional and negligent torts, strict liability torts do not depend on the degree of care that the defendant used. Rather, in strict liability cases, courts focus on whether a particular result or harm manifested.
There are numerous specific torts including trespass, assault, battery, negligence, products liability, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. There are also separate areas of tort law including nuisance, defamation, invasion of privacy, and a category of economic torts.
Source – Tort
What is a Tort Claim?
A Tort claim is a claim for expenses not paid by ICBC as No Fault Benefits but that arise as a result of the injuries you have sustained in the motor vehicle accident, the wage loss or loss of opportunity to earn income either in the past or in the future due to your injuries, and an amount for pain and suffering.
All treatment expenses which you incur because of your injuries are recoverable under a tort claim. Additionally, you are entitled to an amount for your mileage and parking expenses that you incur to obtain treatment. Your wage loss claim may include such things as retraining if necessary, special equipment to accommodate your injuries while you are at work, an award for loss of employment opportunities and an award for loss of earning capacity. The amount that you are awarded for pain and suffering is determined with reference to what Judges have awarded in cases similar to yours in the past. Such things as the extent of the injury, how it has affected your life, how it will continue to affect your life and the treatment which has been necessary are considered in determining your award.
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What is Motor Tort?
Motor tort is a type of tort case that attempts to hold negligent or aggressive drivers accountable for damages they may have caused another driver. There are 3 categories for motor tort cases: intentional, negligent, and strict liability. The category for a tort will depend on the parties involved and the situation.
Common Types of Cases
Car Accidents Start here to learn about your rights after a car accident.
Slip & Fall Accidents Fall injuries are common, and when third party negligence is responsible, a personal injury claim may be made.
Workplace Accidents & Workers Compensation If you were involved in an accident at work, you’ll probably be making a claim with a worker’s compensation insurer. Here’s how these claims work.
Medical Malpractice When a doctor or other healthcare provider fails to perform his or her duty, and that failure causes harm, a medical malpractice case may arise.
Animal and Dog Bite Injury Cases Learn about the rules of owner negligence and liability for injuries by dogs and other animals.
Assault, Battery, and Other “Intentional Torts” Unlike most personal injury claims which are based on negligence, these types of cases stem from someone purposefully harming another.
Defective/Dangerous Product Injuries Manufacturers — and others — may be held liable when someone is injured by a product or dangerous drug.
Wrongful Death When someone is killed in an accident – or intentionally — a wrongful death claim may arise.
Chemicals & Toxins: “Toxic Torts” Exposure to chemicals, like asbestos, mold, and lead can cause serious health problems, but the legal cases surrounding these issues are often complicated.
Defamation: Libel and Slander Learn the basics about defamation of character, laws protecting the defamed, and free speech.
Nursing Home Accidents & Elder Neglect/Abuse There are many ways the elderly can be put in harm’s way in nursing homes and assisted living facilities. Here’s how civil injury claims may arise.
Construction Accidents The construction industry has more than its fair share of accidents and injuries.
Railroad Worker Injury Claims Railroad workers are covered under their own special federal laws.
Claims Against the Government If the City, County, State or Federal Government played a role in your injury, the rules for bringing a case are a little different.
Sports & Recreation Accidents In most sporting accidents, the participant assumes some risk of injury, but that doesn’t mean lawsuits don’t happen.
Source – Accidents & Personal Injury Law
Also Read: The Court Has Decided, In Favor of the Injured Worker During His Rescue Efforts!
How Long Do You Have to File?
The statute of limitations is the time limit in which to file a personal injury claim. In Pennsylvania, personal injury cases have a two-year statute of limitations from the time of injury, or when injury was noticed first.
Where Should You File for a Personal Injury?
Personal injury lawsuits are typically handled by state courts in the county where the injury occurred or where those involved in the incident reside. Injury cases that do not exceed $8,000 can be filed in Pennsylvania’s small claims court, or $10,000 in the case of Philadelphia municipality. Most attorneys work on contingency in personal injury cases. This means you do not owe unless you win. You may be liable for some court costs, regardless.
What Are the Legal Elements of a Negligence Claim?
A negligence claim is based on the four following legal elements. In order to win a personal injury case, a victim must be able to show all four of the following by at least a preponderance of the evidence, meaning that the facts are more likely than not the ones that the plaintiff presents.
The first element of a personal injury case is a duty. Some people have a duty toward specific other individuals based on a special relationship between them, such as parent and child, employer and employee or business owner and customer. Additionally, individuals may have certain duties imposed on them by law, such as the duty to act as a reasonably prudent driver when operating a motor vehicle. People generally owe each other the duty not to cause injury to others and are expected to take reasonable care to avoid causing injury to others. Generally speaking, negligence claims are framed in the question of “What is the duty of care that the defendant had to the plaintiff?”
Once duty is established, the person bringing the claim, the plaintiff, must show how the defendant breached this duty of care. In motor vehicle cases, this breach may occur because the defendant chose to violate traffic laws or was drinking and driving.
The plaintiff then has the burden of proof of establishing that the defendant’s actions actually caused the defendant to suffer the harm that he or she suffered. In legal terms, this if often phrased as “the plaintiff would not have suffered harm but not for the defendant’s actions.”
The final element of a negligence claim is damages. It is not enough for a person to be involved in an accident in order for legal liability to arise. The plaintiff must have suffered some injury. For example, he or she may have a physical injury or property damage.
The damages that a person is able to receive through a personal injury law suit vary based on the circumstances of the case. However, they generally include:
- Property damage
· Past medical expenses
· Future medical expenses
· Lost wages
· Compensation for lost earning capacity
· Pain and suffering
Other damages may be available that are specific to the case. Punitive damages are sometimes awarded when the defendant’s actions are particularly egregious. A wrongful death lawsuit may compensate the surviving family members for the economic and emotional losses caused by the early death of the loved one.
Source – Personal Injury Law Handbook
Costs and Expenses
Many personal injury lawyers will cover costs and expenses and then deduct them from your share of the settlement. Other lawyers will charge you for costs and expenses as they become due. Where you are responsible for paying for each cost and expense, your case will likely not proceed until you make the payment.
Costs and expenses in a personal injury case include:
- Medical Records
- Police Reports;
- Expert Witness Fees;
- Filing Fees;
- Depositions; And
- Trial Exhibits.
Costs and expenses may be high, especially if settlement does not occur until close to trial. The lawyer’s final percentage with all fees, costs, and expenses may end up totaling between 45 and 60% of the settlement.