Defining 4 Common Personal Injury Law Terms

20 August 2021
 Categories: Law, Blog

Personal injury law is a complicated subject, especially for the layperson who isn't familiar with legal lingo. This can make it difficult for people who are involved in a personal injury claim to research useful information that could help their case. This guide will explain four terms that are common in personal injury cases.

1. Losses

Losses are things in your life that you can no longer enjoy due to your injury. Legally, the requirements for losses in a personal injury case are quite stringent. You must be able to show that effects such as lost income, physical and mental suffering, or medical expenses were the direct result of your injury.

Several other categories of losses exist that may be relevant in a personal injury case. People who are no longer able to gain pleasure from a hobby or other regular activity may have loss of enjoyment damages. Loss of consortium damages are those that interfere with the relationship between the plaintiff and their partner.

2. Comparative Negligence

Sometimes, more than one party is to blame for an injury. Many states take this fact into account through a legal rule called comparative negligence. Compensation depends on the percentage of fault assigned to each party in your case. In contrast, some states use contributory negligence, where the plaintiff only has a case if they did not contribute to causing the accident in any way.

Usually, it just takes a bit of critical assessment to know if you were partially at fault in an accident. For example, people who suffer a slip and fall are often ruled partially at fault if they were using their phone or otherwise distracted at the time. 

Comparative negligence in traffic accidents is more complicated because of the many factors that come into play. You can be ruled partially at fault if poor maintenance affected your vehicle's handling or if you failed to signal when needed.

3. Premises Liability

Slip and fall claims are among the most common personal injury cases, and premises liability describes the responsibility of property owners to maintain a reasonable level of safety on their property. 

Premises liability applies to both public and private property, as long as the property is open to the public. Owners of rental properties, restaurants, sports stadiums, and other public venues must ensure that conditions are safe for their guests.

Negligence is the most common cause of accidents that involve premises liability. Conditions such as wet floors, loose handrails, and other safety hazards that are left unrepaired by the property owner classify as negligence. However, the owner is not being negligent if they have posted warning signs around the hazardous area and cleanup is in process.

Premises liability doesn't apply in scenarios where the injured party was not meant to be on the property or in the hazardous area. Plaintiffs who are found to be trespassing or ignoring posted warnings won't have a case in the eyes of the court.

4. Duty of Care

Duty of care is the responsibility to avoid causing harm to others. In the broadest sense, everyone has a duty of care to not cause harm to fellow citizens. For example, drivers who cause a traffic accident that results in injury have breached their duty of care to the other driver. Most commonly, duty of care becomes a topic of discussion in medical malpractice claims.

Physicians who have not provided adequate treatment and have caused harm may be considered to have breached their duty of care. Misdiagnosis, incorrect analysis of test results, and mistakes during surgery are examples of cases where a physician can be held liable.

Personal injury cases can make anyone feel lost and overwhelmed. Understanding common terms related to personal injury will make navigating your claim much easier.

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