Events out of our control like car accidents, falls, workplace accidents and medical procedures gone wrong happen everyday. Many of these tragic events involve a concept called negligence where the incident could have been prevented had the parties involved been more diligent or acted in a manner that a reasonable person would act.

When this negligence causes a person harm, either physical, emotional or financial then the victim has a right to file a lawsuit against the negligent party to seek compensation for damages. This gives rise to a personal injury lawsuit.

Defamation victim bothered

While one can argue that the roots of personal injury law have been around for thousands of years, dating back to biblical and ancient times where “an eye for an eye” and other forms of punishment were commonplace, personal injury cases as we know them today were not common until the dawn of the 20th century. The first personal injury lawyer TV ad appeared in 1979 and have since become a mainstay.

Let’s look at some of the most common personal injury cases around today and how they differ from each other and what’s needed to win each type.

Cases of Motor Vehicle Accidents

It’s a calm, breezy night and you’re on your way back from visiting friends with your family in tow. All of the sudden out of nowhere a distracted driver comes from oncoming traffic and clips your car causing a crash. As per NHTSA stats, every year in the US over 200,000 people are injured and around 35,000 to 40,000 of those result in fatalities. Most of these cases are the result of carelessness and ill-disciplined driving.

To win a car accident injury case it must be proven that you were not at fault for the accident and that the resulting injuries and damages you are claiming as a result of the accident are as serious as you claim them to be. The types of evidence personal injury lawyers use to prove this can include police accident reports, photographs, accident reconstructions and reenactments, medical expenses, expert witness testimony and more.

Cases of Medical Malpractice

One of the trickiest personal injury cases to deal with is medical malpractice, as hospitals have a huge amount of experience of handling such cases and fight hard to defend them. “Medical malpractice lawsuits can be very expensive” says Chicago attorney Matthew Willens. To be successful a medical malpractice or wrongful death lawsuit must prove that the doctor’s negligence act or omission is directly responsible for your injury or the death of a loved one.

Examples of medical malpractice may include failure to diagnose or misdiagnosis of a condition, unnecessary surgery, premature discharge, failure to recognize symptoms, errors during surgery, disregarding or not taking a patient’s history, misreading or not taking appropriate action laboratory results, improper medication or dosage and even improper follow-up care.

To pursue a medical malpractice claim lawyers will look for a clear violation of standard care, an injury that was clearly caused by the negligence and the resulting injury has resulted in significant damages. The significant damages might include disability, substantial loss of income, significant medical bills or future medical bills, usual pain and significant pain and suffering.

Caution wet floor sign
photo credit: Quinn Dombrowski / Flickr

Case of Premises Liability

If a person falls due to a slippery surface at an apartment building and is seriously injured as a result, they may have a premises liability case against the property owner and/or the property management company.

According to the CDC Americans suffer over 1 million slip, trip, and fall injuries every year and 17,000 of these result in death.

Example of things that can lead to a premises liability accident claims include debris on floors, a wet floor, badly placed fixtures, broken floor tiles, holes in the flooring, uneven stairs, badly cracked pavement, inadequate or non-existent warning signage, lack of handrails, exposed electrical wiring, uneven flooring, inadequate lighting and more.

For it to be a winnable case it must be proven that the property owner didn’t take reasonable measures to avoid such an accident.

Cases of Defamation

Defamation is a term that encompasses several types of actions that hurt a person’s reputation and can result in other damages. If the statement is written it is called “libel”, and if the statement is spoken it is called “slander”. What makes defamation allegations tricky are Freedom of Speech laws.

In order for a defamation lawsuit to have a chance of winning it must be proven that someone actually made the statement, that the statement was somehow published and that it caused you injury. The statement must be proven to be false and also that it is not part of a privileged category.