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Personal injury is a legal term for an
injury Injury, also known as physical trauma, is damage Damage is any change in a thing, often a physical object, that degrades it away from its initial state. It can broadly be defined as "changes introduced into a system that adversely affect its ...

injury
to the body, mind or emotions, as opposed to an injury to property. In common-law jurisdictions the term is most commonly used to refer to a type of
tort A tort, in common law In law, common law (also known as judicial precedent or judge-made law, or ) is the body of law created by judges and similar quasi-judicial by virtue of being stated in written opinions. ' is the most-used legal dict ...

tort
lawsuit in which the person bringing the suit (the "claimant" in English Law or "plaintiff" in American jurisdictions) has suffered harm to his or her body or mind. Personal injury lawsuits are filed against the person or entity that caused the harm through negligence, gross negligence, reckless conduct, or intentional misconduct, and in some cases on the basis of
strict liability In criminal law, criminal and Civil law (common law), civil law, strict liability is a standard of Public liability, liability under which a person is legally responsible for the consequences flowing from an activity even in the absence of Tort, ...
. Different jurisdictions describe the
damages At common law In law, common law (also known as judicial precedent or judge-made law, or ) is the body of law created by judges and similar quasi-judicial by virtue of being stated in written opinions. ' is the most-used legal dictionary used ...
(or, the things for which the injured person may be compensated) in different ways, but damages typically include the injured person's medical bills, pain and suffering, and diminished quality of life.


History

Historically, personal injury lawsuits in tort for monetary damages were virtually nonexistent before the
Industrial Revolution The Industrial Revolution was the transition to new manufacturing processes in Great Britain, continental Europe Continental Europe or mainland Europe is the contiguous continent A continent is any of several large landmasse ...
of the 19th century. In agrarian, pre-industrial societies where most people did not travel far from home during their lifetimes, accidental bodily injuries inflicted by one stranger upon another were quite rare. When a grievous accident did occur, the culprit was usually a relative or close friend, and part of the same small local community. Most persons were
judgment proof In the context of contract law, debt collection and civil litigation, the term judgment proof is commonly used to refer to defendants or potential defendants who are financially insolvency, insolvent, or whose income and assets cannot be obtained i ...
before the rise of the
middle class The middle class is a class Class or The Class may refer to: Common uses not otherwise categorized * Class (biology), a taxonomic rank * Class (knowledge representation), a collection of individuals or objects * Class (philosophy), an an ...
and the invention of modern liability insurance. Finally, pre-industrial injuries lacked the sheer magnitude of force of modern personal injuries, because they were normally inflicted by humans or animals, not powerful machines. In the 19th century, personal injury lawsuits were filed after accidents on the new railroads.
Edward Watkin Sir Edward William Watkin, 1st Baronet (26 September 1819 – 13 April 1901) was a British Parliament of the United Kingdom, Member of Parliament and railway entrepreneur. He was an ambitious visionary, and presided over large-scale railway eng ...
of the
South Eastern Railway (England) The South Eastern Railway's former headquarters in Tooley Street, London, near London Bridge station">London.html" ;"title="Tooley Street, London">Tooley Street, London, near London Bridge station. The South Eastern Railway (SER) was a rail ...
complained in 1881 that


Types

Common types of personal injury claims include
road traffic accident A traffic collision, also called a motor vehicle collision, car accident, or car crash, occurs when a vehicle A vehicle (from la, vehiculum) is a machine that transport Transport (commonly used in the U.K.), or transportation (used ...
s, work accidents, tripping accidents, assault claims, and product defect accidents (
product liability Product liability is the area of law Law is a system A system is a group of Interaction, interacting or interrelated elements that act according to a set of rules to form a unified whole. A system, surrounded and influenced by its envir ...
). The term ''personal injury'' also incorporates injuries arising from medical and dental care, that which may lead to
medical negligence Medical malpractice is a legal cause of action that occurs when a medical or health care professional, through a negligent act or omission, deviates from standards in their profession, thereby causing injury to a patient. The negligence might ar ...
claims). Other causes of personal injury claims, include conditions that are often classified as
occupational disease An occupational disease is any chronic ailment that occurs as a result of work or occupational activity. It is an aspect of occupational safety and health Occupational safety and health (OSH), also commonly referred to as occupational health ...
s. Personal injury cases may also include
toxic tort A toxic tort A tort, in common law jurisdiction, is a civil wrong (other than breach of contract) that causes a claimant to suffer loss or harm, resulting in legal liability for the person who commits the tortious act. It can include inte ...
s, in which a contaminant transmitted by air or water causes illness, injury, or death. Other
tort A tort, in common law In law, common law (also known as judicial precedent or judge-made law, or ) is the body of law created by judges and similar quasi-judicial by virtue of being stated in written opinions. ' is the most-used legal dict ...

tort
claims may be pursued in conjunction with personal injury claims. The most common personal injury claim involves injury from a motor vehicle accident.


Claims and payments

Depending upon the intent or negligence of a responsible party, the injured party may be entitled to monetary
compensation Compensation may refer to: *Financial compensation *Compensation (chess), various advantages a player has in exchange for a disadvantage *Compensation (engineering) *Compensation (essay), ''Compensation'' (essay), by Ralph Waldo Emerson *Compensati ...
from that party through a settlement or a
judgment Judgement (or US spelling judgment) is also known as ''adjudication Adjudication is the legal process by which an arbitration, arbiter or judge reviews evidence (law), evidence and argumentation, including legal reasoning set forth by opposing ...
. Although personal injury cases may result from an intentional act, such as
defamation Defamation (also known as calumny, vilification, libel, slander, or traducement) is the oral or written communication of a false statement about another that unjustly harms their reputation and usually constitutes a tort A tort, in comm ...
, or from reckless conduct, most personal injury claims are based on a theory of
negligence Negligence (Lat. ''negligentia'') is a failure to exercise appropriate and/or ethical ruled care expected to be exercised amongst specified circumstances. The area of tort A tort, in common law In law, common law (also known as judicial ...

negligence
. To hold a party or parties legally liable for injuries so damages based upon negligence, four elements must be proved: # Party A had a duty to act reasonably according to the circumstances. # Party A breached the duty. # Party A's breach of the duty caused party B to be harmed. # Party B suffered monetary damages due to the harm suffered when party A breached its
duty of care In tort law A tort, in common law jurisdiction, is a civil wrong (other than breach of contract) that causes a claimant to suffer loss or harm, resulting in legal liability for the person who commits the tortious act. It can include intenti ...
. The amount of compensation for a personal injury will primarily depend on the severity of the injury. Serious injuries (such as severed limbs or brain damage) that cause intense physical pain and suffering receive the highest injury settlements.


Lawsuits

As occurs in most civil cases, personal injury cases begin by filing with a court a document called a "complaint." Typically, a complaint in a personal injury case identifies the parties to the
lawsuit A lawsuit is a proceeding by a party or parties against another in the civil Civil may refer to: *Civic virtue, or civility *Civil action, or lawsuit *Civil affairs *Civil and political rights *Civil disobedience *Civil engineering *Civil ...
, specifies what the defendant did wrong, alleges that the wrongdoing caused the plaintiff's injury, and specifies what kind of compensation the plaintiff is seeking. The complaint generally sets out the facts that the plaintiff will attempt to prove, and the defendant may attempt to disprove, throughout the litigation. In most countries, payments will be through a settlement agreement or a
judgment Judgement (or US spelling judgment) is also known as ''adjudication Adjudication is the legal process by which an arbitration, arbiter or judge reviews evidence (law), evidence and argumentation, including legal reasoning set forth by opposing ...
as a result of a
trial In law Law is a system A system is a group of Interaction, interacting or interrelated elements that act according to a set of rules to form a unified whole. A system, surrounded and influenced by its environment, is described by ...

trial
. Settlements can be either lump-sum or as a
structured settlement A structured settlement is a negotiated financial or insurance Insurance is a means of protection from financial loss. It is a form of risk management, primarily used to hedge against the risk of a contingent or uncertain loss. An entity ...
in which the payments are made over a period of time. In some countries, those prevailing in trial may recover their attorneys' fees from the opposing party. In the United States, a party may be able to seek sanctions when the other party acts without legal basis or justifiable cause. For example, if the opposing party continues to object to the complaint without significant reason or justifiable cause, a party may apply a motion for punitive damages or that the opposing party is harassing and or speculating without merit or reason. The American Bar Association’s Model Rules of Professional Conduct proposes that lawyers should be prohibited from bringing – or defending – a lawsuit “unless there is a basis in law and fact for doing so that is not frivolous.”


Legal fees

The manner in which attorneys are compensated for representing injured plaintiffs varies by jurisdiction. For example, in the
United States The United States of America (U.S.A. or USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or America, is a country Continental United States, primarily located in North America. It consists of 50 U.S. state, states, a Washington, D.C., ...

United States
, attorneys often represent clients on a " contingent fee basis" in which the attorney's fee is a percentage of the plaintiff's eventual compensation, payable when the case is resolved, with no payment necessary if the case is unsuccessful. Depending upon state regulations, a plaintiff's attorney may charge 1/3 of the proceeds recovered if a case is settled out of court or 40 percent if the matter must be litigated. Attorney fees are negotiable before hiring an attorney. Although some jurisdictions have historically helped people obtain affordable legal representation, those systems have typically been narrowed and may exclude personal injury cases. For example, in England
legal aid Legal aid is the provision of assistance to people who are unable to afford legal representation and access to the court system The judiciary (also known as the judicial system, judicature, judicial branch, judiciative branch, and court or judi ...
from the government was largely abolished in the late 1990s and replaced with arrangements whereby the client would be charged no fee if her or his case was unsuccessful.


Time limitation

Many jurisdictions have
statutes of limitations A statute of limitations, known in Civil law (legal system), civil law systems as a prescriptive period, is a law passed by a legislative body to set the maximum time after an event within which legal proceedings may be initiated. When the time whi ...
- laws that determine how much time an individual has to file a claim. If a lawsuit is not filed in a timely manner the statute of limitations provides a defense that can allow the defendant to have the case dismissed with no compensation to the plaintiff. In
England England is a Countries of the United Kingdom, country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Wales to its west and Scotland to its north. The Irish Sea lies northwest of England and the Celtic Sea to the southwest. E ...

England
and
Wales Wales ( cy, Cymru ) is a Countries of the United Kingdom, country that is part of the United Kingdom. It is bordered by England to the Wales–England border, east, the Irish Sea to the north and west, and the Bristol Channel to the south. It ...

Wales
, under the limitation rules, where an individual is bringing a claim for compensation, court proceedings must be commenced within 3 years of the date of the accident, failing which the claimant will lose the right to bring his or her claim. However, injured parties who were under the age of 18 at the time of their accidents have until the day prior to their 21st birthdays to commence proceedings. A court has the discretion to extend or waive the limitation period if it is considered equitable to do so. Another exception is if the accident caused an injury, as an example industrial deafness, then the three-year period will start from when injured party knew or ought to have known that he or she had a claim. In the
United States The United States of America (U.S.A. or USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or America, is a country Continental United States, primarily located in North America. It consists of 50 U.S. state, states, a Washington, D.C., ...

United States
, each state has different statutes of limitation, and within a state different types of injuries may have different statutes of limitation.
Rape Rape is a type of sexual assault Sexual assault is an act in which one intentionally sexually touches another person without that person's consent Consent occurs when one person voluntarily agrees to the proposal or desires of another. ...

Rape
claims, for example, often have a much longer statute of limitation than other injuries. In some states such as
Colorado Colorado (, other variants) is a state in the Mountain West The Mountain West Conference (MW) is one of the collegiate athletic conferences affiliated with the National Collegiate Athletic Association The National Collegiate Athletic ...

Colorado
, the statute of limitations starts to run once the injury is discovered. For example, for an individual who begins experiencing severe back problems six months after a car accident, the statute would start when the back problems began. In India, in case of motor vehicle accidents there is no time limitation for bringing a claim for compensation.


Damages

Damages are categorized as either special or general. In torts, special damages are measurable costs which can be itemized such as medical expenses, lost earnings, and property damages whereas general damages include less measurable costs such as
pain and suffering Pain and suffering is the legal term for the physical and emotional Stress (medicine), stress caused from an injury (see also pain and suffering). Some damages that might come under this category would be: aches, temporary and permanent limitati ...
,
loss of consortium Loss of consortium is a term used in the law Law is a system A system is a group of Interaction, interacting or interrelated elements that act according to a set of rules to form a unified whole. A system, surrounded and influenced by its ...
, the effects of
defamation Defamation (also known as calumny, vilification, libel, slander, or traducement) is the oral or written communication of a false statement about another that unjustly harms their reputation and usually constitutes a tort A tort, in comm ...
, and
emotional distress In medicine, distress is an aversive state in which a person A person (plural people or persons) is a being that has certain capacities or attributes such as reason, morality, consciousness or self-consciousness, and being a part of a cultural ...
. Personal injury torts may result in claims for both special and general damages. Aside from compensation for injuries, the injured person may get compensated for the lifetime effect of the injuries. An example, a keen cricketer suffers a wrist injury which prevents him from playing cricket during the cricket season. This is called loss of enjoyment of life and is compensable. Additionally, lost earning capacity (Future ability to learn) and future reasonably necessary medical expenses are recoverable. In some cases, the injured might run his or her own businesses. The quantum assessment of the loss of profits (dividing into pre-trial and post-trial) requires forensic accounting expertise because the forensic accountant would consider various scenarios and adopt the best estimate based on the available objective data.


No-fault compensation fund

Some jurisdictions offer no-fault compensation systems for personal injury cases, or types of personal injury cases, whereby an injured person can recover compensation from a fund or insurance program without regard to who is at fault for the person's injury. For example, in the United States, most injuries that occur while the injured person is working for an employer are compensated through a no-fault workers' compensation system. In New Zealand, the
Accident Compensation Corporation The Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC) ( mi, Te Kaporeihana Āwhina Hunga Whara) is the New Zealand New Zealand ( mi, Aotearoa ) is an island country in the southwestern Pacific Ocean. It consists of two main landmasses—the North Isla ...
provides no-fault compensation to all accident victims (including
medical malpractice Medical malpractice In the law of torts, malpractice, also known as professional negligence, is an "instance of negligence or incompetence on the part of a professional".Malpractice definition, Professionals who may become the subject of ...
), and personal injury lawsuits are rare (except in cases of reckless conduct). Proponents of this system say that it results in faster, fairer awards to victims. In practice, it can lead to
moral hazard#REDIRECT Moral hazard In economics Economics () is the social science that studies how people interact with value; in particular, the Production (economics), production, distribution (economics), distribution, and Consumption (economi ...
, as it encourages people to engage in behavior they would otherwise avoid for fear of legal liability, such as putting out a trampoline for neighborhood children to use.


United States

Personal injury cases represent the most common type of lawsuits filed in United States federal district courts, representing 25.5 percent of cases filed in 2015. Personal injury claims represent a considerably smaller percentage of cases filed in state courts. For example, in Illinois, tort claims represent approximately 7% of the civil docket.


Insurance

In the United States, personal injury in the sense of "bodily injury" to others is often covered by liability insurance. Most businesses carry commercial general liability policies. Different states have different rules regarding auto insurance, but generally, a driver's liability insurance is available to compensate others whom that driver may inadvertently injure, and uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage is available to compensate the driver for injuries inflicted upon the driver by someone else. Therefore, an insurance company will provide a legal defense to the defendant and may settle with the plaintiff (victim). Additional damages for mental injury without a physical injury are less clearly covered, as the
insurance policy In insurance Insurance is a means of protection from financial loss. It is a form of risk management Risk management is the identification, evaluation, and prioritization of risk In simple terms, risk is the possibility of something ...
typically states that it covers only bodily injury. For example, for the purposes of general liability, a 2001 survey found that a minority of courts included
emotional distress In medicine, distress is an aversive state in which a person A person (plural people or persons) is a being that has certain capacities or attributes such as reason, morality, consciousness or self-consciousness, and being a part of a cultural ...
within the definition of bodily injury. Where a mental injury arises from a physical injury—as with a traumatic brain injury caused by a car accident—auto insurance policies normally cover the injury. In insurance, "personal injury," as typically defined, does not include mental injury that occurs as a result of defamation, false arrest or imprisonment, or
malicious prosecution Malicious prosecution is a common law intentional tort. Like the tort of abuse of process, its elements include (1) intentionally (and Malice (law), maliciously) instituting and pursuing (or causing to be instituted or pursued) a legal action (Civil ...
. For example, the Insurance Services Office standard general liability form has a section providing this coverage.Stanovich CF. (2007
No Harm, No Coverage—Personal and Advertising Injury Liability Coverage in the CGL (Part 1)
Some
home insurance Home insurance, also commonly called homeowner's insurance (often abbreviated in the US real estate industry as HOI), is a type of property insurance that covers a private residence. It is an insurance policy that combines various personal insuran ...
policies include personal injury coverage. Despite the general distinction between bodily injury and personal injury in insurance contracts, auto insurance known as
personal injury protectionPersonal injury protection (PIP) is an extension of car insurance available in some U.S. states that covers medical expenses and, in some cases, lost wages and other damages. PIP is sometimes referred to as No-fault insurance, "no-fault" coverage, be ...
(PIP) does cover medical expenses from bodily injury. This type of insurance is available in some states, but not others. In the U.S., twelve states and the territory of Puerto Rico have no-fault auto insurance systems, which provide financial support to those injured in car accidents. Although the benefits will vary depending on the state, no-fault benefits will generally: (1) pay for an injured person’s car crash-related medical bills and lost wages; (2) be paid by the injured person’s own insurance company; and (3) be paid regardless of whether the injured person was at-fault for the crash. In Michigan, the Michigan Catastrophic Claims Association has historically helped catastrophically injured crash victims.


Taxation

In the United States, for federal taxes payable to the
IRS The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is the revenue service A revenue service, revenue agency or taxation authority is a government agency responsible for the intake of government revenue, including taxes and sometimes non-tax revenue. ...
, the money awarded in a personal injury settlement as compensation for pain and suffering, medical expenses and property damage is not ordinarily taxable. Exceptions may apply, for example, if a plaintiff took a tax deduction in a prior year for medical expenses that are recovered through a later judgment or settlement. Compensation for lost wages or lost business profits will typically be taxed.


State laws

In California, attorneys typically receive contingency fees of 35% of the total recovery obtained before a lawsuit is filed, and 45% if the recovery occurs after filing the complaint. In some types of cases, the judge handling the case may determine the total percentage of the settlement or the payment to the attorneys. Treating doctors or health care profession and/or insurance companies, Med-Cal, or other program paying for medical treatment may assert a lien against any recovery for what was paid to treat the plaintiff. These liens are paid once a settlement is reached or a judgment is received. In
California California is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspaper), a daily newspaper i ...

California
, according to California Code of Civil Procedure Section 335, the statute of limitations in California is 2 years from the date of loss. A date of loss refers to the date in which the accident has happened. Minors in California who are filing a claim against an entity or person has until 2 years after their 18th birthdays to satisfy the statute of limitations. For governmental claims, both minors and adults have 6 months to file a claim with its corresponding jurisdiction according to Government Code section 911.2. After filing a claim to satisfy Government Code Section 911.2, the claimant has an additional 6 months to file a lawsuit against a government entity unless the entity accepts the claim. For wrongful death cases in
California California is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspaper), a daily newspaper i ...

California
, people qualify to claim damages if they are the following: (1) the deceased person's surviving spouse; (2) the deceased person's domestic partner; (3) the deceased person's surviving children; or (3) if there is no surviving person in the deceased person's line of descent, then a wrongful death lawsuit may be brought by anyone "who would be entitled to the property of the decedent by intestate succession," which can include the deceased person's parents, or the deceased person's siblings, depending on who is living at the time of the deceased person's death. (California Code of Civil Procedure section 337.60). Otherwise a plaintiff will have to prove that financially dependency on the deceased person. For automobile accidents in California, a plaintiff must show proof of financial responsibility (California Vehicle Code sections 16000-16078) to claim economical and non-economical damages. Proving the minimum financial responsibility means that a person must be insured by the state's minimum coverage of insurance, which in some cases may be referred to "limited liability" type of insurance. If the plaintiff cannot prove financial responsibility, the plaintiff may be unable to obtain non-economic damages unless his claim falls into certain exceptions, including if the defendant is convicted of driving under the influence, the accident did not arise from the use of an automobile, or his claim is for product liability.


United Kingdom

Personal injury claims are awarded via civil action for torts like in the United States. The book '' Guidelines for the Assessment of General Damages in Personal Injury Cases'', produced by the
Judicial College The Judicial College, formerly the Judicial Studies Board (JSB), established in 1979, is the organisation responsible for training judge A judge is a person who wiktionary:preside, presides over court proceedings, either alone or as a part of ...
, is influential in determining how much money is awarded by courts."Judges are not obliged to follow the Guidelines. Inevitably, however, they are extremely influential, in particular with conditions such as mesothelioma about which few judges have any specialist knowledge"


See also

* Association of Personal Injury Lawyers * Big Apple Pothole and Sidewalk Protection Committee *
Pain and suffering Pain and suffering is the legal term for the physical and emotional Stress (medicine), stress caused from an injury (see also pain and suffering). Some damages that might come under this category would be: aches, temporary and permanent limitati ...


Notes

{{DEFAULTSORT:Personal Injury Civil law (common law) Tort law