If you have suffered an injury that was someone else’s fault, the type of claim you can pursue will depend on the facts of your case. Determining the appropriate type of claim is important because each has its own elements that you must prove.
Note that most states group personal injury claims under one statute of limitations, with a few exceptions. A statute of limitations defines the amount of time you have to bring your claim after the accident—typically two or three years, depending on your state. If you fail to bring your claim within the allotted time period, you may lose your ability to pursue compensation.
A negligence claim is the most common type of personal injury case. An individual is considered negligent when they fail to act with at least the same degree of responsibility that an ordinary person would reasonably use in a similar situation.
To be liable for negligence, a party must breach a duty of care owed to you, thereby causing you damages. One example would be if a careless or intoxicated driver caused a wreck that injured you. Another example is if a store failed to warn customers about a wet floor, causing you to slip and fall.
The extent of a defendant’s duty to you varies based on the circumstances. For example, a doctor may be held to a professional standard of care while operating on you but only an ordinary standard of care if they caused a car accident.
If a doctor injured you by performing a procedure in a manner inconsistent with the standard established for physicians handling that task, he or she may have committed medical malpractice, which is a form of negligence. Because of the nature of medical care, the statute of limitations functions differently for medical malpractice.
For example, you might not know that you were injured by your doctor until after the statute of limitations would ordinarily run out. Because of that problem, states will often start the timer for the statute of limitations from the date of the discovery of the injury. Alternatively, if you were a child when you were injured by a medical professional, your state might start the timer when you turn eighteen.
Companies can sometimes protect themselves against negligence by disclaiming liability. For instance, a company may have you sign a waiver of liability prior to doing business with it. Even a waiver of liability, however, is unlikely to immunize a company against gross negligence, which is a particularly extreme form of negligence.
Gross negligence falls into a gray area between ordinary carelessness and intentional actions. It involves reckless conduct where the offender is aware of an extreme risk of harm but proceeds with the reckless conduct nonetheless.
For example, a driver likely commits gross negligence by driving while intoxicated. Depending on the circumstances, a court may award higher damages for proving gross negligence, which is why it is classified as a separate fault category.
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2. Intentional Torts
An intentional tort is a willful act that caused you injury. An example would be someone assaulting you during a mugging, resulting in you being harmed.
An intentional tort is normally both a crime and a tort, but the standard of proof is lower for a civil lawsuit than for criminal prosecution. Therefore, even if the defendant is acquitted of the crime, you may be able to successfully pursue a civil case against them.
3. Strict Liability
In a strict liability lawsuit, you can win without proving that the defendant was careless, reckless, or acting in an intentional manner. In many states, strict liability applies when you are injured by a defective product. To win against a manufacturer or seller, you must show that:
- The product had a design, manufacturing, or marketing defect, such as inadequate warnings;
- The product reached you without a significant change in its condition;
- The product was “unreasonably dangerous”; and
- The defect actually caused your injury.
Once these elements have been established, you may be awarded damages under strict liability. Examples of products that have led to strict liability suits include malfunctioning construction machinery or personal protective equipment, skincare products, and medical devices.
Strict liability can also arise in dog bite cases. Many states impose strict liability on dog owners for a dog bite when the owner knew or should have known about a dog’s propensity to bite. That is, if a dog has bitten someone in the past, the dog owner is strictly liable for a future bite.
Need Help? Contact Zinda Law Group Today
At Zinda Law Group, our skilled team of attorneys has helped many personal injury victims seek the compensation they deserve. We bring extensive knowledge, experience, and resources to each case we handle, and we advocate tirelessly for our clients.
If you or a loved one has been injured, call us immediately at 888-541-7576 for a free consultation.