If someone caused you to get hurt due to their negligence, that person may be responsible for paying you personal injury damages. These are the costs related to the physical injuries your body sustained. Mental and emotional injuries can also fall under the “personal injury” umbrella.
Typically, these damages include the costs for medical care, pain and suffering, and lost wages if you have to take time off of work because you’re hurt. You will usually have to file a personal injury lawsuit so the courts can determine how much you can recover and order the other person (or their insurance company) to pay those damages to you.
The rules for determining responsibility and damages vary from state to state, so it’s important to understand the basics of personal injury law in Arizona if you’re involved in a personal injury lawsuit.
One of the biggest questions a personal injury suit will try to answer is which party is liable, or responsible, for the injuries. Generally, there are three main categories that apply to personal injury cases: intentional harm, negligence, and strict liability. Each of these areas have specific elements that will need to be proven.
Claims of intentional harm in personal injury cases most often occur with battery. To show that harm was intentionally caused for a battery case you’ll need to prove that the other person willingly committed an act that led to physical contact with your body, and that they did so intentionally.
Intent, in cases like these, means that the other party either did something for the purpose of making contact with you, or they at least knew their actions would likely cause physical contact with you. If we use throwing a rock as an example, throwing it at someone because you want to hit them with it is intent, but so is throwing it in someone’s direction not necessarily wanting to hit them, but knowing it’s likely, or probable, that you will.
So, if someone purposefully punches, kicks, or hits you, or they throw something at you, or they violently take something out of your hand, and you get injured as a result, you likely have a case for personal injury as a result of battery.
In order to recover, you will need to prove that this conduct was the other person’s fault, however. In Arizona, people are allowed to use appropriate physical force to defend themselves. If the person who injured you can prove they did so because you were a threat, the court may decide they aren’t responsible for your injuries. If the other person can prove that your actions contributed to the events leading to your injury, Arizona law will likely bar you from collecting damages.
The other party may also try to defend against battery charges by arguing they didn’t meet the qualifications for intent.
So, what happens if someone injures you, but they didn’t intend to? These cases will likely fall under the category of negligence. In negligence cases, you’ll need to prove the person who injured you did so while acting unreasonably or carelessly.
One of the most common negligence cases in personal injury law involve car accidents. If a person runs a red light at an intersection and hits you while you’re legally turning on green, that could be the basis of a negligence claim; they didn’t intend to hit you, but going through a red light is more careless than a reasonable person would be in those circumstances.
In Arizona, negligence cases use a comparative law standard when awarding damages. That means if you’re found to be partly responsible for the actions that caused your injuries, even if you’re more responsible than the other party, you can still recover damages from them. The amount of the damages will depend on how “at fault” you are, however. Using our car accident example, if someone runs a red light and hits you, but you were speeding well-above the speed limit as you went through the green light, you may both be deemed liable for the accident. If the court decides your speed was 45 percent responsible for the crash, you can only recover for 55 percent of the damages you sought.
In cases of strict liability, intent or negligence don’t have to be present for someone to be the cause of your injuries. Participating in a dangerous activity like shooting off fireworks in a crowded neighborhood could make a personal liable for damages if those fireworks injure someone, even if they were using the fireworks carefully. A person can be liable for injuries if their dog bites someone. Product liability cases, where a design defect or manufacturing error causes a product to hurt you, can also fall under strict liability.
The burden of proof in a strict liability case can be pretty low; usually you’ll only have to prove that you were hurt, and that someone else’s actions or property caused you to get hurt.
Each state has different rules for when you can file a personal injury lawsuit and how much money you’re allowed to collect.
Injuries cost money, including time away from work, medical bills, and other complications. Before taking legal action or trying to negotiate a settlement on your own, you should talk to an attorney about your case. You can search LawInfo’s legal directory to find a local personal injury attorney to discuss the merits of your case. This one step can level the playing field, help you protect your rights, and put you in the best position for recovering the compensation that you deserve.