Types of Personal Injuries

Personal Injury, Explained

Personal injury refers to the branch of law in which an injured party seeks compensation from the party who caused the injury. That said, there are many different types of personal injury cases, ranging from car accidents to medical malpractice.

Despite the different types, all personal injury cases have several elements in common. The injured person must prove negligence on behalf of the defendant, whether the defendant is a person or an entity, such as a corporation.

Proving negligence itself requires that several things be true. First, the defendant must have owed a duty of care to the injured party. Drivers, for example, have a duty of care to operate their vehicles safely, follow traffic laws, and drive prudently given the circumstances. Store owners have a duty of care to make their premises safe for patrons and employees.

Second, the defendant must have breached this duty of care in some way. A car owner driving while intoxicated by alcohol, for example, may not have been capable of driving safely and may have veered into an oncoming lane, clearly constituting unsafe driving. A store owner who fails to clean up spilled liquid in a reasonable amount of time arguably created an unsafe condition where a customer could slip and fall.

Third, the conditions caused by the breach must have caused the plaintiff’s injury. If conditions for a slip and fall existed in a store, for instance, but your injury was not caused by those conditions, you cannot bring a personal injury claim against the store owner. If the unsafe condition caused you to fall but you were not hurt, then you cannot reasonably bring a personal injury claim.

Fourth, your injury must have caused you to suffer actual damages.

If you are able to successfully establish all four of these elements, you should seek compensation for your injuries from the responsible party.

It is possible, of course, for defendants to argue that they did not breach their duty of care, or that they were unaware of any unsafe conditions and therefore weren’t responsible for your injuries. The law uses a reasonably prudent person standard in personal injury cases, which means that if a reasonably prudent person would have known that a condition was unsafe and could cause harm, then the party accused of causing the injury should have known as well.

What Are Damages?

Damages refers to both economic and noneconomic costs caused by the personal injury. An injured party is entitled to seek compensation for these damages.

In Missouri, injured parties can seek compensation for the following:

  • Medical costs (doctor’s bills, hospitalization, nursing care, and more)
  • Lost wages
  • Loss of future earning capacity, if the injury affects an injured individual’s ability to work long term
  • Physical limitations
  • Disfigurement
  • Property damage
  • Loss of consortium and companionship
  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional distress

In some cases, the court may also award punitive damages. Punitive damages are intended to punish a defendant, generally for a pattern of causing harm and negligence. Drug manufacturers who have misled healthcare professionals and consumers about the dangers or unfavorable results of a medication, for example, may face punitive damages.

The laws across the river in Illinois vary a little from those in Missouri. If you were injured in the Metro East area, you’ll want to talk to a personal injury lawyer who is licensed to practice in Illinois law. Some lawyers in the St. Louis region are licensed to practice in both states.

What Types of Injuries Are Involved in Personal Injury Cases?

Plaintiffs in personal injury cases may have sustained their injuries in almost any way possible, depending on the type of accident or event and the environment in which they occurred. Injuries can be short-term and very treatable, or they can be catastrophic and affect a person’s ability to perform the activities of daily living.

Personal injury cases may include the following types of injuries:

  • Fractured bones
  • Sprains
  • Lacerations
  • Burns
  • Contusions and bruises
  • Traumatic brain injury (TBI)
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Back injuries
  • Neck injuries
  • Nerve damage
  • Crush injury
  • Disfigurement
  • Loss of limb(s)
  • Organ damage
  • Soft tissue damage

Types of Personal Injury Cases

Motor Vehicle Accidents

Vehicle accidents are some of the most common causes of personal injuries. In 2016 alone, nearly 57,811 people were injured in car accidents in Missouri, and 2,183 motorcyclists were injured, according to the Missouri Department of Public Safety and the Missouri State Highway Patrol.

Truck Accidents

Seventeen people were killed by large trucks in Missouri in 2017, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Large truck accidents, including those involving 18-wheelers and tractor-trailers, are some of the most serious accidents on the state’s highways, because of the large size and heavy weight of trucks. These accidents are also often very complex and may involve numerous vehicles. Trucks can overturn or jack-knife for multiple reasons, including improper loading of cargo and inadequate truck maintenance. In both cases, trucking companies or their subcontractors may be responsible. Establishing the cause(s) of truck accidents often requires a thorough investigation of the incident.

Train Accidents

Multiple trains run through Missouri. As a result, there were 22 accidents involving trains last year, according to the U.S. Federal Railroad Administration. Train accidents may include derailments, switching failures, or even passenger accidents on a train.

Pedestrian Accidents

Roughly 3,288 pedestrians were injured in traffic accidents in Missouri in 2016. Pedestrian accidents are often severe, as pedestrians are not protected by a vehicle, helmets, or other safety gear.

Premises Liability

While many people associate injuries with moving vehicles, the fact is that people are injured in numerous different places. Hotels, shopping malls, parking lots, apartment buildings, schools, and even a neighbor’s home can be the site of an injury.

For Missouri businesses that are open to the public, those in possession and control of the premises are responsible for maintaining it and ensuring that it’s in a safe condition. If an unsafe condition arises, those in possession or control need to repair or remedy the situation within a reasonable amount of time. They also must clearly warn the public of any potentially unsafe conditions. Signage or safety cones can be used to clearly warn and mark off an affected area, for example.

If an accident is caused by an unsafe condition on the premises, a court may hold those in possession and control of the premises negligent and therefore liable for the injury.

In private residences, those in possession and control also owe an ordinary duty of care to residents, guests, and visitors. That means that they must maintain the premises, both the interior and exterior, in a reasonably safe condition. If unsafe conditions arise, property owners must remedy them or appropriately warn guests and visitors, so they are not unaware of the danger and fail to protect themselves against it. Residences operate a little bit different in that home owners have a different duty of care to visitors than say a department store. Each slip and fall case is very fact specific and you should consult an attorney immediately.

These standards apply to people who may do business in a private residence, such as a contractor or cable installer, as well as to private guests and visitors.

Failure to either keep private residence premises safe or to warn of dangers may mean that a court will hold those in possession or control liable for injuries caused by the unsafe conditions.

Slip and Fall Accidents

Slip and fall accidents are a subcategory of premises liability law. These accidents can occur on broken sidewalks, wet floors, improperly laid carpet, wet or icy streets, and more. They can happen in hospitals, stores, schools, hotels, and some residential areas such as apartments—virtually any locale or surface. Slip and fall accidents can be responsible for serious injuries; more than 20 percent of emergency room visits are the result of these events.

Dog Bite Injuries

Attacks from dogs, whether occurring in a home or on the street, are often serious and frightening. If a bite or attack occurs without provocation, Missouri law and Illinois law holds dog owners strictly liable for injuries caused by their animals. This is in marked contrast to other states, which sometimes have a one-bite clause indicating that, unless the dog has bitten or attacked before, the owner did not have reason to believe the dog was dangerous.

Product Liability Injuries

All too frequently, the products we purchase cause us injuries. Children’s toys, for example, are harmful to justify an annual top 10 list of holiday presents to avoid. Drugs and medical devices prescribed to make us well can cause permanent and lasting harm. E-cigarettes that advertise themselves as a method of stopping cigarette use can blow up or catch fire in a purchaser’s pockets. The list of potentially faulty or defective products is long.

Injured individuals can bring personal liability claims against a manufacturer whose products have caused harm. In some cases, companies who sell a harmful product may also share liability. The key to bringing any type of product liability claim is to SAVE THE FAILED PRODUCT. Our first inclination is to destroy the product that harmed us or our family. However, if the product is destroyed or thrown away, then it is next to impossible to prove that the product failed

Workplace Injuries

Workplaces can be dangerous places. More than 50,000 workers in our state are injured each year, according to the Missouri Department of Labor. Some industries, such as construction, excavation, and the materials and moving sector, are responsible for a high percentage—47 percent—of deaths on the job, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Deaths due to falls on the job reached a 26-year high in 2017.

While workers’ compensation benefits may cover some injuries that occur on the job, the laws that cover these situations are complicated. If an injured party is not covered under workers’ compensation, he or she may still be able to file a personal injury case. It may also be possible to do so if an injury that occurred in a workplace was actually caused by a third party. If a worker is injured in an accident caused by contractors brought in to build a new conference room, for example, the contractors may be responsible for the injuries. In this situation, compensation is more appropriately sought in a personal injury claim.

Maritime Injuries

The rivers, canals, and docks of Missouri and Illinois support a maritime industry. Unfortunately, the maritime industry is also quite dangerous. Its workers can sustain injuries while unloading cargo, by fires, by mooring lines, in a shipyard, by explosions either on land or on the water, and more.

While many workplace accidents are covered by workers’ compensation, maritime law is very complicated. Both state and federal laws may apply, depending on where the accident occurred. It’s important to consult an attorney experienced in maritime law if you’ve been injured in the maritime sector.

Medical Malpractice

Medical malpractice is a very broad category of accidents that center around a failure to meet established standards of care. Medical malpractice includes errors in diagnosis, failure to diagnose properly or delayed diagnosis, errors occurring in surgery, and improper prescribing.

Medical malpractice can occur on the part of physicians and other medical professionals, or a hospital or other medical facility.

Birth Injuries

Birth injuries can occur via inattention, improper practice, or failure to intervene appropriately. A physician or other healthcare professional may overlook signs of fetal distress, for example, and fail to conduct an emergency cesarean, causing the baby to be deprived of oxygen. Forceps or vacuum-assisted delivery can be conducted improperly, causing damage to the head and brain of a baby. Medical professionals can fail to communicate with each other about signs and symptoms during the pregnancy and during delivery.

The resulting injuries can be catastrophic, including paralysis, spinal cord injuries, internal bleeding, cerebral palsy, and fractured bones.

Nursing Home Abuse

Nursing homes are required to provide a certain standard of care to their residents. Unfortunately, nursing home abuse, including physical injuries and neglect, does occur and can injure elderly nursing home residents. Neglect can result from understaffing, poor training, or carelessness, in addition to intentional infliction of harm.

Neglect can lead nursing home residents to develop malnutrition from lack of food, dehydration from lack of fluids, poor hygiene due to lack of appropriate bathing or teeth brushing, accidents or illnesses caused by unsanitary or unsafe common areas, injuries or illnesses due to insufficient medical care or medical malpractice, decubitus ulcers (bed sores) due to insufficient care, and more. Insufficient care can lead elderly residents to fall or even wander off and injure themselves.

If you need further information or assistance about personal injury law, contact a licensed attorney today.

Contact Us Today

The Cagle Law Firm serves accident and injury clients throughout St. Louis and the greater St. Louis metropolitan area, including the eastern Missouri and southern Illinois communities. If you or a loved one needs legal assistance with your personal injury case, call The Cagle Law Firm at (314) 276-1681 or use our online contact form to schedule a free consultation.

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