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There is a large distinction to be made between injuries that you receive from your own carelessness and injuries that you receive at the hands of someone else. Most importantly, legal mechanisms can help you recover for injuries caused by another, either intentionally or negligently.
Colorado injury attorneys are familiar with these mechanisms and know the steps to take when preparing and presenting a personal injury claim. As you consider hiring a personal injury attorney in Centennial because you have suffered injury at the hands of someone else, you may find it helpful to learn some basics about personal injury law, including the categories of personal injury cases.
Personal Injury law
Civil personal injury claims, also called tort claims, come in three basic varieties. These varieties are intentional torts, strict liability, and negligence. Each of the varieties has two basic issues for the victim to prove, which are liability and damages.
In order to prove liability, you must ensure that you have chosen the correct defendant against whom to file your claim. The defendant may have directly or proximately caused the injury. Perhaps you are suing an employer or company that did not correctly train employees to keep you safe or did not maintain a safe environment for patrons.
For example, a grocery store may be liable if its inability to keep the floor free of obstacles caused you to slip and fall. Similarly, a contractor might be liable if an unsafe construction environment caused your injury. These are examples of liability for negligence claims, and liability is usually easier to determine for intentional and strict liability torts.
In order to recover, you must have an injury for which relief can be granted. Further, the amount you could receive as compensation for the damages will depend on the nature and extent of your injuries.
The nature of your injuries also determines the kinds of compensation to which you could be entitled; the most common kinds of compensation in personal injury cases are economic damages and noneconomic damages. Economic damages include easily measurable expenses that you incur from your injury, such as medical bills, physical therapy, and missed wages from time you had to take off of work; noneconomic damages help you recover for pain and suffering. You could also receive punitive damages that the court makes the adverse party pay to you as a form of punishment for especially severe injuries.
Other factors can also affect the amount for which you can recover. For example, in a state with a pure comparative negligence law, you can still recover if you were partially at fault. If you were in a car accident and a jury determines that you were 30% at fault and the other party was 70% at fault, then you could recover 70% of your damages.
Intentional tort claims
Intentional tort claims arise when one person intentionally harms another. The intent in these claims can be either general or specific. A defendant has general intent when he or she intends to perform some act that causes an injury but does not intend specific consequences of the injury. Specific intent, by contrast, requires that the defendant have intent as to both the action he or she performs and the consequences of that action.
Intentional torts tend to be well defined with specific elements that must be proved for each kind of claim. For example, in the intentional tort of battery, you must prove that the defendant intended to make harmful or offensive contact with you and that the defendant made harmful or offensive contact with you. In the intentional tort of assault, you must show that the defendant put you in reasonable apprehension of imminent harmful or offensive contact, but not that the defendant made contact. However, someone can be charged with both battery and assault since someone can put you in apprehension of imminent harmful contact and also make harmful contact with you.
Common Examples of Intentional Torts
Some of the most common examples of intentional torts are battery and assault described above, but other examples include false imprisonment, trespass to land, trespass to chattels, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Each claim has a different set of elements you must prove in order to recover.
Strict Liability claims
With strict liability, the defendant’s intent does not matter. Certain circumstances make the defendant automatically take liability for the damages the victim suffers. Broadly, the defendant can be liable for injuries caused by the possession of certain animals and by performing abnormally dangerous activities.
A defendant can be strictly liable for the trespass of domesticated animals (excluding dogs and cats). Also, if an owner knows or should have known about his or her domesticated animal’s dangerous propensities, then the owner could be strictly liable for the injuries the animal causes. If someone owns or possesses a wild animal that injures someone, the defendant will be held strictly liable.
Abnormally dangerous activities are also strict liability torts. Activities that are considered abnormally dangerous are not of common usage and create a risk of foreseeable harm even when the defendant exercises reasonable care.
Another form of strict liability is products liability. A company or manufacturer can be held strictly liable for the damage that its product causes consumers. This can occur when the item is defective. The elements that must be met in a products liability case include:
1. The company sold a product that the plaintiff used.
2. The defendant was the commercial seller of the product.
3. The plaintiff suffered an injury from using the product.
4. The product was defective when the defendant sold it.
5. The product’s defect caused the plaintiff's injury.
The final category of personal injuries is negligence cases. A personal injury lawyer in Centennial will know how to prove the elements of negligence and will be able to tell you whether you have a strong case. Many kinds of accidents and injuries involve negligence, including car accidents and medical malpractice.
In a negligence claim, you must show that the defendant owed you a duty of care, that the defendant breached that duty by failing to provide the adequate standard of care, that you suffered an injury as a result of that breach, and that the defendant’s negligent conduct caused your injury.
Duty of Standard of Care
Certain relationships create a legal duty between parties. For example, a business owner has a duty to keep customers safe to the degree that an ordinary prudent person would take precautions to prevent foreseeable harm.
Breach of the Duty
If the defendant owes a duty to you and fails to meet the standard of the duty, then the defendant breached the duty and may be liable for your damages.
Just as in other personal injury cases, you must show that you suffered a real injury for which you can be compensated in negligence cases. Your injury could be a physical injury, a psychological injury, stolen property, or other harms that arise from the negligence of another. You must also establish that the damages you suffered were either proximately or directly caused by the defendant’s breach of duty.
How a Colorado injury lawyer can help
Now that you have a general idea of what your personal injury claim might look like substantively, it will be helpful to know how a Centennial, CO, injury attorney could help you with the procedural process of your claim. First of all, it can be beneficial for you to have someone on your side who is familiar with the legal system. Lawyers can help you file your claim and negotiate a settlement for the most compensation possible.
A lawyer can help you file your claim by knowing the specific rules you must follow for your claim to be accepted into the court system. You must file within the appropriate timeline, and you must ensure that you are suing the right person for an injury from which you are entitled to recovery.
You can find a lawyer in Centennial, CO, who will know how to negotiate with the defendant’s lawyers along with the defendant’s insurance companies in a way that will help the strength of your claim rather than hurt it. Also, an attorney offers you the best chance of getting fully compensated. We discussed earlier the kinds of damages that might be available to you in a personal injury case.
Talk to a Zinda Law attorney in Centennial, CO
If you have suffered a personal injury and could benefit from having someone advocate for your rights, our experienced lawyers in Centennial, Colorado, would like to talk to you to see how they can help you with your case. Call the Zinda Law Group lawyers at (800) 863-5312 and someone will be happy to schedule your free consultation.
These compassionate lawyers want to guide you through the legal system to help you recover for your injuries. Our No Win, No Fee Guarantee lets you have the assurance that you will not pay us unless we win your case for you.
Meetings with attorneys are available by appointment only.