Personal Injury Liability
Personal Injury Liability
You cannot pursue a claim for personal injury unless you can establish liability. Liability falls under one of three vast fields that provide for you to file a personal injury claim.
The first of these is an intentional wrong. This means that someone had intent while conducting an act that resulted in your injury. Examples include assault or battery, even if only intended as a prank. In cases of intentional wrong, you may be able to file a civil suit for personal injury as well as file criminal charges. You can’t carry insurance for intentional wrongs in Idaho, so you will have to get compensation from the person who injured you. There are many problems with collecting settlements or judgments from individuals, including whether the person who injured you has the means to pay you or if the other party files for bankruptcy.
The second field is negligence, which means that a person did not observe due care while performing some act and you were injured as a result of that lack of care and/or duty. When considering whether an act was negligent, a judge or jury determines how someone “reasonable” would have acted in the same situation. The “reasonable person” referred to here is the expectation of society regarding how people should act; it isn’t any one, specific person, either in the real world or on the jury. Whether the defendant was experienced or capable is not a consideration when determining negligence. Someone inexperienced with operating a motor vehicle is held to the same standards as an experienced driver when it comes to negligence. If the defendant is in a specialized field – drivers, pilots, doctors, for example – the act is compared to how others in the field would react in the situation. Professional negligence is called malpractice.
To win a personal injury case based on negligence, you must prove three things. The first is that someone else had a duty to use reasonable consideration while doing some task, such as driving a vehicle and adhering to traffic laws. The second is a breach of that duty; that is, failing to use care, such as not obeying traffic laws. The third is that you suffered damages of some kind due to the other party failing to uphold his or her duty. You must be able to prove all three of these things in order to sue due to negligence.
The third field is strict liability, in which someone can be held liable for your injuries whether or not that person was negligent. In a strict liability case, you don’t have to prove that the defendant was negligent in order to recover damages. Strict liability is generally used in personal injuries resulting from animals, known dangerous activities, and product liability.
In the case of animals, strict liability can be used if someone’s livestock or other animals (such as dogs, for example) have trespassed on your property and you were injured. Most cases of strict liability due to animals are dog attacks. Idaho has introduced laws regarding strict liability that hold an owner of an animal responsible if that animal bites someone, even if the owner didn’t know the dog might bite.
In cases involving activities that are unusually dangerous, strict liability can be claimed if someone undertakes such an activity and someone else is injured, even if the person doing the act used due and reasonable care. Strict liability is generally used in cases of mass insect or pest removal (such as fumigation or crop dusting), explosives or flammable liquid storage, or in the course of maintaining a site for hazardous waste.
Product liability is perhaps the most seen in strict liability cases, mostly in defective products. A person or company can be held strictly liable if they sell a defective product to someone and someone is injured by normally using the product. There are generally a number of entities responsible in a defective product strict liability case, including the manufacturer, those who manufactured a defective product’s parts or a component, the wholesaler, the store that sold the product to the consumer, and anyone along the assembly line or involved in an installation. In cases of defective products, the item must have been sold during the regular course of business; therefore, someone selling the item at a yard sale or in a classified ad is not responsible for injuries sustained from using the product.
The person injured by using a defective product is not the only person who can bring suit. Any person who could have been injured by using the product can sue for damages. In these cases, it must proven that the product was defective and the defect caused the product to be too dangerous to use for its intended purpose. Defects fall into three categories: design defects, assembly defects, and defects in marketing (poor or inadequate instructions, improper labeling, or insufficient safety warnings, for example).
Who Else Could Be Liable?
Negligence by individuals is not the limit of personal injury liability. Sometimes, organizations, small businesses, partnerships, companies, and very large corporate entities can be liable for damages due to personal injury if it can be proven that the entity breached their duty to use due care and someone injured because of it.
Employers can be liable if their employees are negligent while performing some act during the course of work. If an employee commits a negligent act while performing normal job duties, the employer can be held liable for those actions and any injuries resulting from those actions. This includes traffic accidents occurring while an employee is performing deliveries or errands in the course of his or her job or at his or her employer’s behest. If the employee, however, is going elsewhere instead of going about his or her assigned task (such as going to a store for personal reasons while supposedly out performing job-related errands), then the employer probably won’t be held liable. Employers also have a duty to protect employees from personal injuries due to accidents in the workplace. These cases usually fall under workers’ compensation, however.
If you are injured on public property, a governmental body may be liable for your injuries. Injuries sustained by a child while using a badly cared-for playground may cause a city to be liable for those injuries. Another example might be if you were injured in an accident by a government employee driving a government vehicle. Cases involving governments have strict deadlines that you must follow in order to file a personal injury claim. Though the U.S. Constitution removes liability from government entities, most state, county, and city governments have waiver laws that allow for injury claims. As mentioned, there are strict deadlines as well as detailed requirements that must be met in order to file a claim against a governmental body for personal injuries. Failure to follow these rules can cause you to lose your right to compensation for your injuries. Because this process is so complex and fraught with the possibility of making a mistake or missing a deadline, an attorney will be your best ally in navigating these kinds of cases.
Property owners can also be held responsible for personal injuries if the injury occurred due to unsafe conditions on the property… even if the owner didn’t know about or create the condition. Idaho law states that property owners have a duty of reasonable care for anyone entering the property, including customers, guests, and, in some cases, even those who are trespassing.
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