The law defines personal injury as an injury to the body, mind, or emotions. Personal injury law generally refers to remedies sought in a civil lawsuit brought as a result of negligent or sometimes intentional conduct. Negligence is a form of a tort, which is defined as a private or civil wrong or injury, for which the court will provide a remedy in damages.
Most personal injury cases are grounded in claims of negligence. Negligence is defined as the failure to do something which a reasonable person, guided by ordinary considerations, would do, or failing to do something which a reasonable and prudent person would do. Negligence can result from almost any act as long as the court determines a duty to protect the person from negligence exists. The concept of negligence is designed to ensure that people act responsibly and fulfill duties imposed upon them by operation of law to avoid injury to other people. There is not negligence every time someone gets hurt. Some injuries are simply the result of unavoidable accidents or acts that do not rise to the level of negligence.
To establish liability for negligence in Oklahoma, the plaintiff must prove:
1. defendants owed the plaintiff a duty to protect the plaintiff from injury;
2. defendants breached that duty;
3. the plaintiff suffered injuries that were proximately caused by defendant’s conduct; and
4. the plaintiff suffered damages.
Generally, whenever a person or entity is by circumstances placed in a position with regard to another that if he did not use ordinary care, he would cause danger of injury to another person, a duty arises to use ordinary care and skill to avoid such danger.
Cases involving negligence can involve almost any form of injury. Common negligence cases include automobile accidents, trucking accidents, medical or professional negligence, premises liability or “slip and fall” cases and products liability.
Once a plaintiff establishes that another party was negligent in a personal injury case, the defendant must pay for all of the injuries caused by his actions. Some damages are easy to calculate or quantify such as property damage, lost wages and medical bills. Other types of injuries are more subjective and more difficult to evaluate and assess such as emotional distress or mental pain and suffering. Often, expert witnesses are called to quantify the extent of damage. In some cases punitive damages are awarded. Punitive damages are damages designed to punish a wrongdoer based upon intentional or reckless conduct.
When initiating a personal injury action, it can often be difficult to determine the parties or entities that may be responsible for the harm. By way of example, an automobile collision may be caused by a driver who runs the stop sign, however, municipalities may share liability or be found liable for comparative negligence for the conditions of the road if the conditions caused or contributed to the collision.
There are defenses available in all lawsuits, including claims that the plaintiff was also partially at fault or contributorily negligent. Also, lawsuits have time limitations respecting when they can be brought. These time limitations are referred to as statutes of limitation and provide varying ranges of when a plaintiff must bring his claim or run the risk that his claim will be time barred. In Oklahoma, statute of limitations for personal injury claims are typically two years. However, limitations on other claims particularly claims pertaining to real property can survive up to fifteen years.
Personal injury cases can be complicated or relatively simple. Some cases are resolved in a relatively short period of time, while other cases may take a year or more to resolve if they go all the way to trial. The majority of cases settle prior to trial. A settlement of a personal injury action is as the name implies, a resolution of the claim by agreement.
If you are involved in a personal injury action, you should seek the advice of an attorney as early as possible. You will likely be contacted by insurance companies early in the process. While one purpose of such contact is to investigate the facts of the claim, insurance companies often do much more, including starting the process of building a defense to your claim. This may include recording conversations and seeking admissions from you. Legal assistance with your claim at the earliest stages is the best practice to not only document your claim but protect your interests.
To determine whether your case has merit, you should talk to a lawyer that handles personal injury cases. A thorough evaluation of the claim is typically required to determine not only the legal avenues available but the chances of success. Logan & Lowry, LLP has several attorneys who specialize in personal injury law and the firm takes great pride in its success in handling all types of personal injury claims. Contact us to learn more.
Products liability is a type of personal injury or tort case based upon a claim that a product is defective or dangerous. Liability can extend to various parties involved in the manufacture, distribution or marketing of the product. Products liability claims can be based on negligence, strict liability or breach of a warranty.
Generally, to recover in a products liability action, a plaintiff must demonstrate the product was defective. A product can be defective due to its design, manufacture or marketing. Design defects are inherent and make a product unreasonably dangerous due to a flaw or dangerous characteristic. Manufacturing defects refer to defects that exist through the construction or production of a particular product. Defects in marketing generally refer to warnings given or associated with the product, including instructions or failure to warn consumers of dangers of the product.
Products liability is sometimes referred to or considered a strict liability claim. It is not necessary to show that a manufacturer or seller of a product was negligent if it is demonstrated the product is defective.
If you are injured by what you believe may be a defective product or a product containing an inadequate warning, you should contact an attorney. Logan & Lowry, LLP has attorneys who specialize in products liability claims, including extensive trial experience in both state and federal courts. Contact us to learn more.