What is a personal injury case?
Personal injury cases refer to those cases in which a person is harmed either physically, mentally, or emotionally. Usually, personal injury actions seek to recover for injuries caused by another’s negligence, but some types of personal injury cases, like defamation, don’t involve a defendant’s negligence.
Common types of personal injury cases include car accidents, motorcycle accidents, accidents resulting from a dangerous condition on property, injuries caused by ultra-hazardous activities like use of explosives, dog bites, or harm caused by defective or recalled products. In order to file a traditional personal injury case against a defendant for negligence, the plaintiff must meet the four following criteria:
- Duty – In order to successfully bring a case against a defendant, the plaintiff must show that the law imposed a “duty” on the defendant to act a certain way. This “duty” is an obligation to act as a “reasonable person” would act, and courts have illustrated how a “reasonable person” would act in a variety of specific circumstances. For example, a manufacturer of a product has a “duty” not to release products that can foreseeably cause harm to consumers.
- Breach – This requirement simply means that a defendant must have failed to act as a reasonable person would have acted in his or her circumstances, and thereby breached his or her duty.
- Harm – This requirement merely means that the plaintiff must have suffered some kind of real harm, financial, physical, or otherwise.
- Causation – This requirement means that a defendant’s breach of duty must have caused the plaintiffs harm. There are two types of causation that typically must be shown: 1) actual causation, meaning that, but for the defendant’s breach, plaintiff’s harm would not have occurred, and 2) proximate causation, meaning that the link between the defendant’s breach and the plaintiff’s harm must not be ‘stretched too thin’ by intervening events or other factors.
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