Torts, or personal injury claims, can arise from virtually any type of injury accident. Occasionally, personal injury cases may involve non-physical injuries, such as damage to one’s reputation, finances or relationships. However, the majority of injury lawsuits involve incidents in which one party physically injures another, either through negligence or intent.
The key to a personal injury claim is establishing liability. Not all accidents are grounds for legal action. For an injury claim to be successful, the plaintiff’s attorney must show that the defendant (also known as the “tortfeasor”) had a responsibility, or duty of care, to avoid the incident or condition causing the injury and failed in that duty.
Generally, there are three grounds for a tort action.
- Negligence: This is the most frequent situation. The tortfeasor allegedly either behaved or acted in a careless or reckless manner, leading to the defendant’s injury, or failed to take action that would have prevented the injury.
- Intentional Conduct: In this case, the tortfeasor acted with deliberate intent. This can include physical assault, which crosses the line into criminal liability, or defamatory actions such as slander or libel.
- Strict Liability: Cases involving defective and/or dangerous products fall into this category. A manufacturer who produces and sells a product that harms consumers can be held liable regardless of intent or negligence.
There are several causes of action for injury lawsuits.
Automobile and Motorcycle Accidents
Road accidents involving a passenger car or motorcycle are the cause of action in most injury lawsuits. These accidents usually happen because the person behind the controls fails to follow laws governing the vehicle’s operation. This includes being under the influence of alcohol, narcotics or even some prescription drugs. Distracted driving or fatigue can be factors as well. A driver may also be at fault if they fail to maintain their vehicle in a mechanically safe condition. (If on the other hand, the car at fault had defects of which the driver was unaware, that goes to product liability.) In most states, you may sue the driver at fault, but it is more probable that you will need to deal with their insurance company. This is the best reason to retain an experienced auto accident attorney; these legal professionals have experience dealing with insurers. It is also why you should never sign any paperwork from an insurer until your attorney has had the opportunity to examine it.
For no-fault states like Massachusetts, suing in an auto accident case works differently; you would collect from your own insurance company. You can still sue the driver responsible for the accident if your medical costs exceed a certain amount. In Massachusetts, the threshold is $2,000. State law also allows a car accident victim to sue if their injuries include loss of limb, sight, hearing or permanent disfigurement.
Serious accidents involving commercial tractor-trailer rigs are far more likely to result in permanent injuries and death. There are over a half-million trucking accidents reported in the U.S. annually.
Determining liability in a trucking accident is more complicated than auto and motorcycle crashes. The reason is that trucking is a commercial activity. The majority of truck drivers are employees; while the operator can be (and usually is) directly responsible for the accident, there are often other parties who share liability:
- The trucking company: the driver’s employer may have been in violation of federal hours of service regulations, failed to maintain the truck in safe operating condition or hired an incompetent driver.
- Workers loading the trailer: improperly-loaded cargo can cause a container to shift while the truck is in motion, making the rig unstable and difficult to control.
- The shippers: if the cargo contains dangerous or toxic materials and these contribute to the victim(s) injuries or death, the shipping company can be held liable.
- The manufacturer: if the accident was due to mechanical failure, the manufacturer of the truck or any of its parts may bear liability.
This is another common cause of action in personal injury litigation. It is also the most complex. If, for example. the alleged malpractice took place in a hospital, it is necessary to determine exactly what went wrong and when. The reason is that hospital treatments involve many staff members, including nurses, aides and medical assistants, any of whom may have made an error resulting in the injury. Furthermore, if the doctor is an actual employee of the hospital, it is necessary to name the institution as the defendant in the complaint. If, on the other hand, the doctor is an independent contractor (which is often the case), you normally would sue them.
Medical malpractice is another type of lawsuit in which you would most likely have to deal with an insurance company since physicians licensed in Massachusetts are legally required to carry malpractice insurance.
Slip and Fall Accidents (Premises Liability)
Lawsuits arising from a slip and fall accident typically involve a building owner (individual or corporate) who fails to post adequate warnings of potential hazards, such as wet floors, broken steps, stairs or handrails — anything that could lead to a serious fall resulting in an injury.
Not all premises liability cases involve a commercial building or institution. A homeowner can also be at fault, as may a landlord. If the accident occurred on public or government property, there are special rules when filing a claim.
Nursing Home Negligence and Abuse
This is a growing problem in the U.S. and abroad. Nursing home claims usually arise from negligence. It can also be abuse, which need not be physical; intimidation, bullying and financial fraud fall under this category as well.
Unlike other types of personal injury, nursing home negligence and elder abuse are not single events. Typically, it is a series of failures on part of staff and management to provide adequate care or ongoing behaviors by caretakers or even other residents. Signs of elder abuse include:
- Unexplained bruising and/or lacerations or other injuries
- Withdrawn behavior
- Unexplained illness or infection
- Poor hygiene
If you see such indications, you should contact the proper authorities as well as retain legal counsel.
This term refers to the spread of false information that causes damage to a person’s reputation or finances. It goes beyond idle gossip. When a person makes such statements verbally in a public forum, it is considered slander; when the statement is written and disseminated, it is libel. The word “disseminated” or published has a wide definition in this context: it could be a newspaper article, a social media post or blog, or simply a handwritten note left somewhere.
Whether or not you have a case depends on (A) what can be proven, and (B) who you are. An average citizen simply needs to prove the statement was false. On the other hand, a prominent celebrity or public figure must prove the statement was made maliciously.
Getting Legal Help
Jason Stone’s team is here to help you recover from your injuries and get compensation for your losses. The attorneys at Jason Stone Injury Lawyers charge nothing upfront. Under our Stone Cold Guarantee, if we do not win your case, you pay us nothing. We have experience and understanding of the financial burdens injury victims must bear. Phone Stone today for your free consultation. “There’s No Obligation, Just Information®.”