Everyone gets hurt from time to time, but sometimes, you’ll be hurt due to the negligence or direct action of another person. In these cases, you could be considered the victim of a personal injury from a legal perspective.
But what exactly “counts” as a personal injury, and if you sustain one, what should you do next?
Common Instances of Personal Injury
These are some of the most common types of personal injury you could sustain:
- Car accidents. If you’re involved in a car accident that’s not your fault, the responsible party will be responsible for any injuries you sustain as a result of the accident. This includes immediate injuries, like broken bones, as well as injuries that might not be revealed until later, like traumatic brain injuries (TBIs). You could also receive compensation for any work you’ve missed due to your injury.
- Workplace injuries. Most workplace injuries could feasibly be covered by workers’ compensation insurance, which is a legal requirement in most areas. In these situations, no matter who’s at fault, the insurance company will pay for your medical expenses so long as the injury was sustained at work or during work conditions. However, if some individual (or the organization as a whole) is responsible for your injury, it may make sense to forgo the workers’ comp claim and instead seek legal action. Assuming the claim is valid, this will typically result in a higher payout.
- Assault and intentional harm. Not all personal injuries are the result of an accident or unfortunate circumstance. In most cases, you can file a personal injury claim when you’re the victim of assault or intentional harm.
- Medical malpractice. Medical malpractice can also qualify as a personal injury, provided it does some harm to you. For example, a medical professional may prescribe a treatment or medication that results in injury or a worsened condition, or they may inaccurately diagnose a condition, which leads to further harm. In any case, the medical professional must be determined to have acted outside the realm of modern standards of practice.
- Defective products. Personal injuries can result from defective products as well. In some cases, companies operate negligently by using hazardous materials, or by failing to have safeguards in place to prevent harmful products from being released to the public. For example, you may buy an electronic device that overheats due to a product safety failure and ends up burning your skin.
- Slip and fall cases. Most people slip and fall at some point during their lives, but some of these cases only arise because of the negligence of another party. For example, a business may fail to adequately clean up a spill in one of its aisles, resulting in you falling and breaking an arm. Some of these cases can result in great personal harm.
- Animal bites. If an owner is responsible for an animal (e.g., if they have a pet dog), they may be held liable for damage the animal causes to another human being. Dog bite cases, for example, are common in the realm of personal injury law.
What to Do
If you’ve been the victim of a personal injury, there are a few steps you can take. Most importantly, you should seek medical attention. Even if you aren’t sure whether you have a case, treating the injury is the best course of action. Your medical visit will serve as documentation for your injury and facilitate your recovery.
Once you’ve done that, you can:
- Seek compensation directly. If you have a good relationship with the party who injured you, or if you just don’t want to get involved in a potentially lengthy legal process, you could try to seek compensation directly. For example, if your friend’s dog bit you, you could request for them to pay for your treatment.
- Gather evidence. If that route doesn’t work for you, it’s a good idea to gather whatever evidence you can. Make sure to save all your medical records, photograph the injury (if possible), document your symptoms, gather video footage, and talk to eyewitnesses. The more evidence you have, the better your case will be.
- Speak with a lawyer. Speak to a lawyer as soon as possible. They have the legal expertise necessary to help you understand the nature of your case, and will be able to provide you with direction on what to do next.
Personal injuries come in many shapes and sizes, so don’t write something off until you’ve properly pursued it. If you’re in doubt about what qualifies as a personal injury or if you’d just like more information, don’t hesitate to speak with a lawyer. Most initial consultations are free, so there’s no harm in starting the conversation.