Personal injury claims are legally defined as injuries “caused accidentally by another’s failure to use reasonable care.” The quality of reasonable and responsible care is typically determined on a case by case basis.
Some common examples of personal injury cases include, but are not limited to, any reasons for injury or wrongful death in the following situations:
• Automobile, bike, and pedestrian collisions
• Trucking accidents
• Boat and airplane accidents
• Construction accidents
• Product liability
• Nursing home liability
• Toxic and mass torts
• Medical malpractice
The plaintiff claiming personal injury must be able to prove that hardship they experienced was the direct result of the defendant’s negligence or recklessness. If your case is successful, you can receive compensation for medical expenses, property damage, pain and suffering, emotional distress, lost wages, loss of companionship, attorney fees, and loss of future income.
But the key to having a successful personal injury case boils down to one word—fault. Determining who is at fault is the first and foremost step in winning a personal injury claim. Without a clear connection between the defendant and the incident or accident, the personal injury claim has no foundation.
Without a clear establishment of fault, your attorney will be unable to prove your case in court.
Read below to understand how to properly establish fault in your personal injury case.
Cases involving negligence occur when a plaintiff or loved one was injured because of someone else’s carelessness and failure to act in a reasonable and responsible way. Medical malpractice is a common claim that falls under this kind of fault.
One of the more well-known personal injury examples involving negligence is when doctors leave surgical instruments or things like cotton balls and towels inside of their patient’s bodies, or when surgeons operate on the wrong body part. Some studies have suggested that this kind of medical negligence occurs 39 times per week in the U.S.
2. Comparative Fault
If you are partially at fault for an accident or incident, you may still be able to claim for a portion of the personal injury damages under the rule of comparative fault. The amount you can legally claim in comparative fault cases varies by state, but in most cases your compensation will be deducted by the percentage you are found to be at fault by the jury.
Typically, comparative fault cases play out in auto collisions where both drivers are partially responsible for the accident, but the plaintiff is the only one who incurred medical injury and is seeking compensation.
3. Rear-end Collision
Determining who is at fault in a rear-end collision is usually a straightforward process—the person who hit the back of the other car is held 100% responsible. Even if the driver ahead stopped quickly or abruptly, law mandates that drivers follow far enough back to be able to stop before a collision. Specific exceptions vary by state, but are rare.
One example of an exception to the rear-end collision rule of fault is if negligence by the driver contributed to the accident, such as driving with no lights or illegally parking in the street.
4. Strict Liability
Determining who is at fault is unnecessary in cases of strict liability. Under this rule, manufacturers, distributors, and retailers can be held responsible for your injuries or loss, without having to establish or prove fault. Injuries from product failure or malfunctioning fall under the jurisdiction of strict liability.
The classic model of strict liability is the example of a tiger at a zoo. If the tiger escapes and causes injury or property damage, the zoo will be held responsible, no matter how strong or weak the tiger’s cage was. It prevents the blame from being shifted from the owner.
5. Multiple People at Fault
If more than one person is at fault for your injuries or damages, you can bring a claim against each of them for damages. However, under this rule you cannot file for a double claim, but rather distribute the compensation.
For example, say you are involved in an accident with two other drivers at fault. If the medical, financial, and punitive damages you received totaled $50,000, then you can file a claim against each driver for the amount they caused, as long as it totals the $50,000 (for example: $20,000 from one driver, and $30,000 from the other). You cannot claim $50,000 for each driver.
6. Assumption of Risk
The assumption of risk is an argument the defendant can make if you engaged in an activity with full knowledge of the dangers involved. Under this rule, you may be legally prevented from suing for damages if it is deemed that you completely understood the risks involved.
Release forms are often ways that companies or individuals protect themselves through the assumption of risk rule.
If you have experienced an injury or loss during an accident or incident, consider contacting a personal injury attorney to establish fault in your case.