What is Personal Injury?
Personal injury law is based on the concept that when a person is negligent and causes injury to another, that person should pay compensation for the injuries he or she has caused. This concept has been a part of the American legal system since the founding of the country, and it is enshrined in the Seventh Amendment to the Constitution which preserves the right to a trial by jury in almost all civil matters.
Although most personal injury cases are formed on the basis of negligence, other cases are formed on the basis of strict liability or intentional wrongs, according to the American Bar Association. Cases involving strict liability occur when victims hold the manufacturers or designers of a defective product accountable for their injuries. What is unique about these cases is that claimants do not have to establish that the manufacturer or designer was negligent. Instead, they simply need to show that a product was dangerous to use because it was designed or manufactured that way.
Intentional wrongs can also be the basis of personal injury cases, although these cases are much rarer than cases involving negligence or strict liability. In cases like these, one party intentionally ends up causing harm to another. For example, if a driver decides to hit another driver as a practical joke, a personal injury case could be formed on the basis of intentional wrongdoing.
Many Types of Personal Injury Cases
Many different types of personal injury cases exist. Some of the most common include:
- Medical malpractice—These cases develop when an act of negligence that results in the death or injury of a patient is committed by a health care professional. For instance, a patient may file a medical malpractice case after his or her surgeon used unclean tools that caused a serious infection during the operation.
- Products liability—Cases involving products liability develop when consumers claim they were harmed by a product. In these cases, manufacturers, designers and retailers can all be found at-fault. For instance, a driver might file a case against an auto manufacturer after the airbags in his or her vehicle failed to work as intended.
- Workplace injuries—When workers are injured while they are performing their work-related duties, they may be eligible to file a personal injury lawsuit. In these cases, injured employees are often able to claim workers’ compensation benefits.
In addition to cases involving products liability, medical malpractice and workplace injuries, personal injury cases more commonly develop when one driver injures or kills another driver, passenger or pedestrian in a car accident due to negligence. This is likely because car crash injuries in the U.S. are extremely prevalent. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2012 alone, approximately 2.5 million people sought emergency care for car crash injuries, and of these 2.5 million people, approximately 200,000 had to be hospitalized.
Personal Injury Compensation
When victims file a personal injury case, they may be eligible to receive many different forms of compensation once a verdict is reached. For example, victims may be awarded compensation for pain and suffering, medical bills, lost wages and lost earning capacity. In cases involving wrongful death, the family members of the deceased person can receive compensation for burial expenses, medical bills, loss of companionship and lost earnings their loved one would have acquired if he or she had survived.
According to Cornell University Law School, wrongful death cases develop when a negligent action causes someone else’s death. However, these cases can generally only be filed by the deceased person’s close relatives. For instance, the spouse, child, parent or grandparent of a victim killed in an accident may be eligible to file a wrongful death case on behalf of his or her loved one.
A South Carolina personal injury lawsuit is an option for victims who have suffered personal injury caused by the wrongdoing or negligence of another party.
A South Carolina Personal Injury Attorney Can Help
If a victim suffers a personal injury caused by the wrongdoing or negligence of another party, he or she may be entitled to compensation for damages resulting from their injuries, including:
- Medical expenses
- Loss of income or ability to work
- Pain, suffering, and mental anguish resulting from an injury
The families of those who have died may be eligible to recover money for funeral expenses and the pain that comes with losing a loved one.
If the actions causing injury are malicious or so reckless that intent to harm can be inferred, the responsible party can be liable for punitive damages to punish wrongful conduct and deter similar conduct in the future.
Victims of negligence and their families are encouraged to seek the counsel of a personal injury attorney to learn more about their rights and remedies.