What is a Personal Injury Claim?

Personal injury law, also known as tort law, is designed to protect you if you or your property are injured or harmed because of someone else’s act or failure to act. A personal injury or tort lawsuit is a civil (not criminal) cause of action. The wrongdoer compensates the victim with money. There are three different classifications of torts: negligence, strict liability, and intentional torts. The remedy in most tort suits is the same: payment of money by the defendant to the plaintiff. Sometimes the remedy is an injunction rather than monetary damages (for example, if your neighbor plays loud music, you can file a nuisance action seeking an injunction to stop him).

Every tort claim, regardless of its basis, whether negligence, strict liability, or intentional, has two basic issues — liability and damages. Was the defendant liable for the damages you sustained, and, if so, what is the nature and extent of your damages? If you can prove liability and damages, our system of justice will award you compensation for your loss. Even if liability is established, the parties in a lawsuit may argue strenuously over the proper amount of damages. Some types of damages, such as lost wages and medical bills, are easy to calculate. But reasonable minds can differ on other kinds of damages, like a person’s expected future earnings and how to quantify “pain and suffering.”

(via FindLaw, links added)

Anatomy of a Motor Vehicle Claim

Every claim includes 2 necessary items: Liability and Damages.

To establish legal liability you need to demonstrate that someone operated his or her motor vehicle negligently and that but for that negligence the harm caused would not have happened.

Damages are the “harms” caused as a result of the negligent act.  Damages generally fall into 3 categories which are:
(1)  economic losses;
(2)  non-economic losses; and
(3)  punitive or exemplary damages.

Generally, only economic (or “special”) damages and non-economic (or “general”) damages are present in most claims. Punitive or economic damages are money damages designed to punish an otherwise negligent operator if the conduct complained of is outrageous.  An example would be found in the case of a drunk driver, especially one with prior drunk driving convictions.

Economic losses include lost wages, sick time used and medical bills incurred and to be incurred in the future.

Non-economic losses include compensation for injury, pain, suffering, inconvenience and interruption of life-style.