What kinds of “injuries” does personal injury law include?

Personal injury law can apply to any injury that one person or entity causes another person, so long as that injury was caused by intentional, negligent, or reckless behavior, or by an action covered by strict liability. Some common causes of personal injury that can give you a right to recover damages include:

  • Auto accidents
  • Slip/Trip& Fall (liquids, snow and ice)
  • Slip/Trip & Fall (unsafe conditions on property) other than liquids, snow and ice
  • Premises Liability
  • Construction Site Accidents—Negligence, New York Labor Law 240 and 241
  • Dram Shop (Alcohol) Liability
  • Medical Malpractice
  • Product Liability
  • Police Misconduct
  • Wrongful Death
  • Battery
  • Assault
  • Infliction of Emotional Distress
  • False Accusations—Defamation of Character by Libel or Slander

Personal injury law covers any situation in which the following occurs:

  • Physical, Mental or Reputational Injury: A person is injured physically, mentally, and/or in his or her reputation;
  • Wrongfully Caused: The injury is caused wrongfully, in the eyes of the law, by another person or by an entity (such as a corporation or municipality).When you are injured, the law asks whether the person who injured you was responsible to take care that you did not get injured. There are different levels of wrongful conduct that lead to liability depending on the circumstances:
  • Everyday Situations—Negligence: The law usually asks, “Was the person who injured you “negligent” in causing your injury?” Negligence is another way of saying “careless,” or lacking in the use of ordinary care or consideration.
  • Special Situations—Recklessness: In certain cases, those involving injuries caused by police and firefighters driving to or arriving at emergency situations, the law may ask if the officer acted “recklessly” in causing injury—that is, did they act in utter disregard to your safety?
  • Intentional Injurious Acts: There are also intentional acts (like if someone punches you on purpose and without justification, breaking your nose) where the intent combined with injury will allow recovery.
  • Defective Products—Strict Liability: Finally, there are injuries involving dangerous products or products manufactured improperly or that are defective—in such cases, the law doesn’t look for wrongful behavior, but rather presumes responsibility by the fact a person was injured using the product (also known as “strict liability”).
  • Compensable Damage: A person will not be able to recover (much less find a lawyer to represent him) for a cut on the finger or other negligible injury:
    • Example: You are crossing the street with a “walk” sign. A car goes through the red light, causing you to dive to the ground to avoid being hit. If you get up with a minor scrape on your hand, and walk away without further symptoms, there is an injury caused by negligent driving, but you will likely not be able to recover, despite the actions of the driver.

When each of these factors is present, an injured person may be able to recover a dollar amount for all damage suffered (medical costs, lost wages, pain and suffering) by suing the person or entity that wrongfully caused the damage.

Changes may occur in this area of law. The information provided is brought to you as a public service with the help and assistance of volunteer legal editors, and is intended to help you better understand the law in general. It is not intended to be legal advice regarding your particular problem or to substitute for the advice of a lawyer.

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