What is Defined as Personal Injury?

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Often, people equate the term “personal injury” with “bodily injury,” but in the legal world, the two are not synonymous. Instead, bodily injury falls under the umbrella of personal injury. The most common personal injury cases arise from various types of accidents. In these cases, insurance policies may cover physical injuries, while broader personal injuries are not. Filing a legal claim is often necessary to recover the full extent of damages a person incurs due to an accident.

The Legal Meaning of Personal Injury

Individual state laws establish the legal meaning of personal injury for that state. However, they all contain variations of similar concepts. Personal injury is also known as tort law, stemming from the Latin definition of tort, which means harm.

When you sustain harm to your person, the injury can be in the form of damage to your physical person, emotional and mental health or reputation. People file personal injury claims primarily because property or auto liability insurance only covers expenses related to bodily harm.

If you sustain serious injuries from an accident, you may suffer damages not covered under insurance policies. The only way to recover these losses is to pursue a legal claim. Mike Morse Law Firm’s personal injury lawyers can assess your case to determine if your injuries meet the legal definition of a personal injury.

A Consideration of Intent

Damage to your person can arise out of any number of incidents and circumstances. A personal injury claim is a civil case rather than a criminal one. Nevertheless, intent is usually still a consideration in a personal injury lawsuit. The defendant’s intent can impact what types of damages a plaintiff can pursue and how much they can seek, though many states impose damage award caps.

Negligence vs. Intentional Wrongful Conduct

Two primary intent categories are negligence and wrongful conduct. Negligent behaviors are careless or reckless actions that harm another individual. A person is negligent if the individual does not behave in a manner that considers the safety of others. It is inconsistent with a prudent person’s level of care in the same situation.

Intentional wrongful conduct is any action that intentionally harms another individual. The person who engages in this type of behavior has malicious intent rather than a general disregard for the safety of others.

Strict Liability Personal Injury

In some instances, intent is not a consideration, and a defendant can be held liable regardless of the intent. In these instances, an individual or entity has an overarching responsibility to ensure the safety of others. The law often applies strict liability in product liability cases, where a manufacturer is ultimately held responsible for product safety, and intent is generally not considered in a civil case.

The Role of Negligence in Personal Injury Cases

Most personal injury cases arise from negligent behaviors that result in accidents, causing serious injuries to others. If you sustained injuries in an accident due to another party’s negligence, you might need to file a personal injury lawsuit to recover your losses.

Meeting Legal Requirements

You may feel like your injuries resulted from unjust actions from another person, but that reason isn’t enough to justify legal action. To file a personal injury lawsuit, your case must meet state criteria for personal injury claims due to negligent behaviors.

Definition of Personal Injury

In most states, you must meet legal criteria for serious injury to file a lawsuit for negligent behavior that led to your injuries. Generally, the standards describe the types or degree of harm that qualifies.

Michigan’s law states that only those who suffer from permanent serious disfigurement, serious impairment of bodily function or death. These injuries must be verifiable and factually non-disputable, or if they are factually disputable, the disputes are immaterial to the legal claim that the plaintiff suffered a serious injury.

Statute of Limitations

States impose a legally binding and strict deadline for filing personal injury cases. The statute of limitations varies across states. Furthermore, each state’s personal injury laws establish different deadlines for various personal injury cases.

In Michigan, the statute of limitations for most claims is three years from the accident’s occurrence. There are a few exceptions to the three-year time limit, including:

  • A two-year limit imposed for assault, battery and false imprisonment cases
  • A five-year limit imposed if a spouse, former spouse or current or past dating partner is the perpetrator in the above personal injury cases
  • A 10-year limit for cases involving criminal sexual conduct
  • A two-year limit for malpractice suits

You may want to consult with an attorney immediately following an accident or intentional misconduct that results in injuries.

A Mike Morse personal injury lawyer will assess your case to determine if it has merits for a legal claim. Time can pass faster than you imagine, and it’s surprisingly easy to miss the deadline to file a personal injury lawsuit. If you miss the statute of limitations, you lose the opportunity to recover damages in a civil claim.

Proving Negligence

The burden of proof always rests on the plaintiff. It is up to you to establish the other party’s fault. Hiring an attorney with knowledge and experience handling your type of personal injury case may significantly improve the strength of your case. There are four elements of negligence in a personal injury lawsuit:

  • Establishing duty of care: You must demonstrate that the other party was obligated to consider your safety. For example, drivers are responsible for driving in a manner that protects the safety of others. Another common application of duty of care is that property owners have an obligation to keep their property free from hazards to lawful visitors.
  • Proving breach of duty: Once you establish that the defendant owed you a duty of care, you must prove that they failed in their duties. Negligent behaviors can include actions and omissions.
  • Demonstrating actual injuries: You must also establish that the defendant’s negligence led to an accident or incident that caused you actual harm. It is up to you to connect the defendant’s negligence, the ensuing accident and your injuries.
  • Defining damages: Your injuries have to be serious enough to justify compensation. The damages incurred are generally in the form of economic costs, though non-economic losses are often also included.

Meeting all four elements is necessary for a successful lawsuit.

If you can prove the other party was liable for the accident, you may seek economic and non-economic damages, including past and future medical expenses, lost wages, reduced earning capacity and pain and suffering.

The Most Common Types of Personal Injury Cases

The most common types of personal injury cases are due to negligent behaviors. At Mike Morse Law Firm, we frequently serve clients who sustained injuries from:

Though these are the most common types of personal injury cases, they are not the only accidents or incidents we handle.

The Michigan Legal Team With the Experience You Need

The Mike Morse Law Firm’s team of personal injury lawyers and legal professionals has the knowledge, experience and dedication to clients that you need in your corner. When you need help with your personal injury claim, you can count on us to provide individualized services. You deserve to be treated like a person, not a case number. Get in touch with us for a free case review.

Sources:

http://www.legislature.mi.gov/(S(gtoy1odx50fx3a2pgddfigc0))/mileg.aspx?page=getObject&objectName=mcl-500-3135

http://www.legislature.mi.gov/(S(5nc2vcrn1itsu30hwthtpxsp))/mileg.aspx?page=getObject&objectName=mcl-600-5805

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