Personal injury refers to a broad range of legal claims where someone does something wrong resulting in an injury to another person. It is one of the most common sources of civil lawsuits, and can include anything from a minor injury to death. The purpose of filing a personal injury lawsuit against a person or entity is to be compensated for the injury sustained, hold the wrongdoer accountable, and to deter similar harmful actions in the future.
A personal injury claim can stem from any number of activities. Some of the most common sources of personal injury lawsuits involve things most people deal with on a regular basis, including:
- Motor Vehicle Accidents
- Product Liability
- Medical Malpractice
- Nursing Home Malpractice
- Slip and Fall
Because most of us drive on a daily basis, work about 5 days a week, and constantly use a variety of products and devices, we may be susceptible to a personal injury at any time. Most of the time drivers, employers and companies act with the reasonable care towards others. However, when anyone breaches their duty of care, and that action or inaction results in harm to another person, they should be held accountable.
Most personal injury cases have a two-year statute of limitations for filing a civil lawsuit. In some cases, the two-year time frame runs from the time the injury was discovered. The timeline may be shortened in certain cases, with certain defendants, which is why it is important to talk to an experienced personal injury lawyer as soon as you can, to make sure all your recovery options remain open.
Many personal injury cases generally fall under a claim of “negligence.” To successfully bring a claim of negligence under Illinois law, the plaintiff must prove that the defendant owed a duty to the plaintiff, they breached their duty, and the breach caused an injury to the defendant.
Most personal injury cases, including auto accident cases, will involve a negligence claim. As an example, getting rear-ended by another car is often the result of a driver who is not operating their vehicle with reasonable care. In a personal injury lawsuit where the plaintiff suffered some physical injury, such as neck or back pain, as well as damage to the car, the plaintiff may seek damages from the other driver. Negligence could be shown where the other driver was distracted by texting on their phone, if they were following too closely, or they had just left a bar after having a couple of drinks. The plaintiff may then seek to recover damages as the result of the other driver's negligence.
Malpractice cases are similar to negligence cases, but they generally have a different standard because of the specialized training and experience of certain professions, including doctors, nurses, surgeons, anesthesiologists, or pharmacists. To bring a claim for medical malpractice against a doctor, the plaintiff has to show that the doctor with the knowledge, skill and care ordinarily used by a reasonable doctor, failed to do something that a reasonably careful doctor would do under similar circumstances.
Product liability cases can involve all sorts of items that we use in our daily lives. It may include items we use with caution, such as a lawnmower, or items that we think of as completely safe, like a mobile phone. However, when using the products as they are intended to be used, in recognition of reasonable warnings, they can still malfunction and cause an injury to the user.
In order to recover in a strict product liability case, the plaintiff must prove that the injury resulted from a condition of the product manufactured or sold by the defendant that was unreasonably dangerous, and the condition existed at the time it left the manufacturer's control. The dangerous condition can be as the result of a manufacturing flaw, a faulty design, or inadequate warnings.
Personal Injury Damages
In some cases, there may be a number of defendants who caused the injury, or multiple defendants may be named where it was unclear which one was fully or partly responsible for the injury. In some cases the plaintiff may be deemed to be partly responsible for their own injury. However, under Illinois law, as long as the plaintiff is not more than 50% responsible for the injury, they can still claim damages from the other defendant(s), reduced proportionally to their level of fault.
In bringing a personal injury claim, the plaintiff may be seeking damages for the harm they suffered as the result of the defendant's negligence. Damages can be compensatory or punitive.
Compensatory damages are intended to restore the plaintiff to the condition they were in before the injury. This could include economic damages, such as lost wages, lost future earnings, past and future medical bills, and property damages. In some cases, restoring a plaintiff may be impossible, such as the loss of eyesight, or a permanent disfigurement. In these situations, compensatory damages may try to approximate the value of loss of enjoyment of life, pain and suffering, and the loss of companionship experienced by the spouse.
Punitive damages are intended to punish the defendant for their wrongdoing, and have a deterrent effect on the defendant and others from engaging in such conduct in the future. In order to win punitive damages, the defendant's conduct usually has to exceed regular negligence, such as acting with actual malice or violence.
Personal Injury Lawyers
Immediately after an injury, it may be too overwhelming to think about legal action. Your time may be prioritized with getting better, getting back on your feet, and getting back to your normal life. However, if you are facing thousands in medical bills, the person responsible for the injury should be held accountable for their mistakes and not just get away with it so they can do the same thing again to someone else.
In some cases, an injury may not even be immediately apparent. For example, after a medical procedure, it may take weeks, months, or even years before you discover the injury. Only after suffering from a mistake that the doctor or hospital refuses to admit, may it be clear that something went wrong.
You shouldn't be left to suffer as the result of someone else's wrongdoing. Our attorneys have successfully represented our clients in personal injury cases in Peoria and throughout the state of Illinois. If you have suffered physical, emotional or financial injuries as the result of someone's carelessness or negligence, contact your experienced Illinois personal injury attorneys at Benassi & Benassi.