Personal Injury

Common Kinds of Personal Injury Claims

By David Goguen, J.D., University of San Francisco School of Law

If you’re making an injury-related insurance claim or filing a personal injury lawsuit, then the only claim you’re likely concerned with is your own. But sometimes it helps to get a sense of the larger picture when it comes to the different kinds of cases that are out there. In this article, we’ll take a look at some of the most common kinds of personal injury claims, and the key issues that are typically in play in those cases.

Car Accident Claims

The most common type of injury claim is one that arises after a vehicle accident. These include accidents involving cars, trucks, buses, motorcycles, bicycles, and pedestrians.

In most car accident claims, there is some amount of finger-pointing between the parties involved (and their car insurance companies). Fault for a car accident is rarely crystal-clear. The exception may be rear-end accidents, where the trailing driver is almost always at fault.

Most car accident claims involve both injuries and vehicle damage, and an injury claim may also include damages like lost income and “pain and suffering.”

It’s important to note that in the dozen or so “no-fault” car insurance states, an injured person’s options are limited after a car accident. In these states, you’ll need to turn to your own car insurance coverage first (and maybe exclusively), and your options for pursuing a claim or lawsuit against the other driver are limited.

Slip and Fall Claims

A customer slips on a wet store aisle. A partygoer falls on defective stairs at a neighbor’s house. These situations (and countless others) could give rise to the filing of a slip and fall claim.

In this kind of case, the injured person alleges that the property owner (or whoever was in charge of maintaining the property) failed to fix a dangerous condition on the property, or otherwise failed to take reasonable steps to prevent the accident. In other words, the injured person needs to prove that the slip and fall was caused by the property owner’s negligence.

Dog Bite Claims

Different states follow different rules when it comes to a dog owner’s liability for bites and other injuries. In some states, a dog owner is subject to “strict liability” if their animal bites someone, meaning the owner can be regardless of whether he or she did anything wrong. In other states, the owner’s knowledge -- of things like the dog’s dangerous tendencies -- comes into play and affects liability.

The claimant in a dog bite case should be prepared to hear the animal’s owner argue that the dog was teased or provoked at the time of the bite incident, or that the claimant was trespassing when he or she was bitten. Depending on the state where the injuries occurred, arguments like these, if successful, may be used to absolve the dog owner of liability.

Other Common Kinds of Injury Claims

Here’s a quick rundown of some more common types of personal injury claims:

Defamation. When a false statement about someone does damage to their reputation, that statement could rise to the level of libel (if the statement is written or publicized) or slander (if it is spoken).

Medical Malpractice. Doctors and other health care professionals aren’t perfect, and the law doesn’t expect them to be. But when a patient is injured by the provision of care that falls below accepted medical standards, there may be a viable medical malpractice claim.

Defective Products. If a vehicle, drug, child’s crib, food item, or any other consumer product is manufactured with a defect, or if it was designed in a way that is unreasonably unsafe, then anyone who is injured by its use may be able to bring a “products liability” claim against the manufacturer.

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