A question we’re often asked is “What exactly is a personal injury claim?” and “Why do individuals assert such claims?”
A personal injury claim arises when one person is careless (negligent, in judicial terminology) and causes another person to be injured. We are taught as children to be careful and avoid hurting other people, a lesson most people carry with them into adulthood. In the rare case that someone intentionally tries to harm another individual, criminal charges are usually brought against that person. Most often, however, people that cause accidents are simply being careless and not using common sense. They can be in a hurry or distracted, which is quite often the cause of accidents. Everyone has caught drivers looking at their cell phones instead of watching the road. This level of distraction while driving is careless, extremely dangerous, and in some cases, causes charges to rise to the level of intentional act, leading to criminal charges or claims for punitive damages. Studies have shown that drivers who are texting, reading emails, or watching videos on their cell phones are just as distracted and dangerous on the road as drunk drivers.
Outside of negligence in traffic accidents, personal injury claims have also been filed for a number of reasons you may not expect. Claims can occur because of a dog, cat or other pet gets out of the control of its owner, a freshly mopped floor isn’t protected or marked with “Wet Floor” signs, or a rancher leaves a gate open and his cattle get into a roadway. Additionally, we have seen severe personal injuries occur when road construction crews do not follow established safety guidelines for blocking traffic and putting up warning barrier, barrels, or cones to advise drivers of road construction dangers.
Some especially unusual personal injury cases arise when individuals attempt something new, novel and dangerous, like making homemade fireworks or shooting an arrow or gun into the sky or across a vacant lot. These may seem like fun ideas at the time, but all are highly hazardous and can cause severe or even deadly injuries.
Simply stated, a personal injury claim occurs when someone is injured due to the negligence or carelessness of someone else. As described to juries, negligence is the failure to do something that an ordinary prudent person would do under like circumstances, or in doing something that an ordinary prudent person would not do under like circumstances. I say it is the failure to act safely and the failure to use common sense. Be sure to live safely and use your common sense every day to avoid senseless accidents and personal injuries.