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The law of personal injury is often focused on determining who may be responsible for your injuries and how much they should be required to pay for your damages. Personal injury is part of the law of torts, the legal term that includes all types of injuries to people and their property. There are a number of principles that apply to the law of torts and personal injury. These principles recognize 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 normal 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 that they did not take reasonable care or they did not 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. A lawsuit can be brought against anyone participating in the chain of manufacture for that product, from the manufacturer, to the designer to the retail store.
When more than one party is found to be at fault for your injuries, the court will enter a judgment against each party liable in accordance with that party's percentage of fault. If you are partially at fault for the accident that caused your injuries, the award will be diminished in proportion to your degree of fault.
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.
You can recover your actual past losses such as medical expenses, property damage, and lost wages. The law allows compensation for future medical and care expenses as well as 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 place any limit on the amount of damages one may recover for personal injury or death.
If you were injured at someone else's home or at a commercial establishment, 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 design, construction or maintenance of the property. 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 important 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.
Injuries cost money, including time away from work, medical bills and other complications. You should have an attorney help you with your claim. Not sure if you have a good injury case? Speak to a local personal injury attorney about the merits of your case. This one step can help you protect your rights and take the proper next steps.