Personal Injury -- Plaintiff Law
If someone caused you to get hurt due to their negligence, that person might 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. A personal injury suit allows the courts to 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 essential to understand the basics of personal injury law in Arizona if you’re involved in a personal injury lawsuit.
Personal injury is part of the law of torts, the legal term that includes all types of injuries to people and their property. These types of lawsuits often focus on determining who may be responsible for your injuries and how much they should be required to pay for your damages.
Several principles apply to the law of torts and personal injury. These principles recognize different degrees of fault on the part of the person who causes the injury. In general, the degrees of fault can be described as negligence, intentional fault, and strict liability.
The term negligence is essential to tort (personal injury) law. Everyone is expected to take ordinary care to ensure that their action or the actions of others under their control do not cause anyone harm. If they fall below that standard, and someone is injured, or their property damaged, then they become negligent. Negligence does not mean that the person deliberately intended to cause harm. It only means they did not take reasonable care or act when any reasonable person would have.
Strict liability means that one does not have to prove negligence to recover damages. In the case of product liability, the law now holds that you do not have to prove the manufacturer was negligent if someone is injured while using a product. They only have to prove the product was defective. Lawsuits can be brought against anyone participating in the product manufacturing chain – from the manufacturer to the designer to the retail store.
Arizona has adopted the doctrine of comparative fault for personal injury cases. Generally, a claimant’s fault does not bar recovery unless the claimant willfully or wantonly caused or contributed to the injury or death. Whether or not you are entitled to compensation may depend on the type of accident that caused the injury.
For example, workplace injuries generally are covered by worker’s compensation benefits, which compensate for medical expenses, lost wages, and impairments, without regard to fault by anyone. A claim can be made if the accident was caused by someone other than the employer or a coworker.
When more than one party is found to be at fault for your injuries, the court will enter a judgment against each party liable according to that party’s percentage of fault. If you are partially at fault for the accident that caused your injuries, the judge will reduce the award in proportion to your degree of fault.
You can recover your actual past losses such as medical expenses, property damage, and lost wages. The law also allows compensation for future medical and care expenses and future loss of income and earning capacity.
You are also entitled to non-economic damages for pain, suffering, inconvenience, physical impairment, disfigurement, loss of enjoyment of life, loss of consortium, etc. Punitive damages are intended to punish a defendant for reckless or malicious behavior and are only awarded in rare cases. Arizona does not cap the amount of damages one may recover for personal injury or death.
Suppose you were injured at someone else’s home or a commercial establishment. In that case, the person responsible for the premises may be found liable. You will need to prove that the injury was caused by an unsafe condition that the owner should have known of and corrected before the accident. In a typical slip and fall accident, the injured person must show that the person responsible for the premises was negligent in the property’s design, construction, or maintenance. The standard of care a property owner owes to a trespasser is usually less than that owed to a person who has permission to be on the property.
As you can see, a personal injury attorney may be critical to your claim. If you’ve been injured by the careless actions of another person, you should consider hiring a local attorney as soon as possible after the incident. It’s essential to speak to a lawyer familiar with the laws in your jurisdiction. Fortunately, you can contact an experienced Arizona personal injury attorney to evaluate your claim.