In the context of everyday language, many people confuse the concepts of “accident” and “injury.” This is fine for informal conversations. But in the context of tort law, “accident” and “injury” are different ideas with different legal implications. An accident may not have someone to blame, but a personal injury case is only possible if someone bears legal liability.

In the following post, we will examine some of the differences between an accident and an injury. We will discuss common kinds of personal injury cases. Finally, we will explore the types of financial recovery that personal injury victims can seek.

If someone else’s negligent actions caused your injuries, you have the right to pursue damages for your medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more. Contacting a personal injury attorney is vital. A qualified attorney will examine the circumstances of your case and work to secure compensation for you. 

What is an Accident?

There are many ways to use the term “accident.” In everyday language, the term usually refers to an unfortunate event that was not expected. Sometimes, this word implies that the event resulted in an injury or other damage. 

For instance, imagine that someone slips and falls in their own kitchen. This could be referred to as an accident. The person did not plan to slip and did not intend to fall. The slip might have resulted in injuries. 

But there is a key difference between this type of accident and the types of events that result in personal injury cases. The difference is fault. 

What is an Injury? 

While the term accident can refer to an event for which no one is to blame, the term “injury” implies fault. Imagine the slip and fall case again. If the person fell in a business because the floor was wet and there was no signage, someone is at fault. In this case, the business owner would probably be liable.

An injury takes place when someone’s negligence or carelessness causes harm to someone else. The term “accident” might still arise in the context of personal injury law. For instance, someone might file a personal injury claim after a car accident.

But this use of the term “accident” does not imply randomness or chance, like it would in everyday use. Personal injury cases are only appropriate if someone bears legal liability for the damage from an event.   

Common Types of Personal Injury Cases

There are many different types of circumstances where a personal injury case is possible. Let’s take a look at some of these circumstances below. 

Negligence Personal Injury

A victim can pursue financial compensation in cases in which someone’s negligent actions resulted in an unfortunate event. 

Some of the most common events for which victims seek damages include:

Many of these examples still evoke the term “accident.” But they still imply fault. Otherwise, a personal injury case would not be possible. 

Intentional Injury

Personal injury can also result from intentionally malicious actions. In other words, the at-fault person may have known that they were doing the victim harm. 

In cases like these, the injured person has a legal right to pursue financial compensation for damages. Assault and battery are examples of intentional injury.

Product Defects

Some cases may seem like a no-fault accident, but in reality, someone is to blame. If a product is unreasonably dangerous or defective, injured consumers may be able to secure financial recovery.

Common examples of defective products include:

  • Vehicle parts or components
  • Pharmaceutical products
  • Medical devices

Typically, the injured person brings a personal injury claim against the product’s manufacturer.

Defamation

If someone makes defamatory statements or claims, it can also result in a personal injury lawsuit. 

Typical Types of Compensation in Personal Injury Cases

There are a few different categories of financial compensation (or “damages”) that typically result from personal injury cases. 

Special Compensatory Damages

This type of financial payment is intended to compensate a victim for financial losses after their injury. Sustaining an injury is more than just painful. In many cases, injuries are expensive. This type of compensation is meant to make victims financially whole.

Typical examples of special compensatory damages include money to replace:

  • Lost wages from missed work
  • Long-term decreased earning capacity
  • Medical bills and expenses
  • Anticipated cost of future medical care

This list is not exhaustive. There are many other types of special compensatory damages. 

General Compensatory Damages

General compensatory damages are intended to compensate the victim for non-economic damages from their injury. Non-economic damages are the costs from an injury that are personal and non-financial.

Non-economic harms can be difficult to calculate, but they are very real costs for an injured person. 

Common types of general compensatory damages include payments for:

  • Pain and suffering
  • Mental trauma
  • Psychological anguish
  • Loss of companionship or consortium
  • Lowered quality of life

A skilled personal injury attorney can assess the circumstances of a case to calculate the appropriate amount of general compensatory damages that might be owed. 

Punitive Damages

These types of damages are much less common. Punitive damages are intended to punish the wrongful behavior of a defendant. This kind of payment is only awarded when the judge or jury feels that the actions of the at-fault party were particularly shocking. 

Types of cases in which punitive damages might be awarded include:

  • Malicious acts of fraud
  • Assault and battery
  • Sexual assault
  • Wanton fraudulent behavior

Juries may also award punitive damages in cases in which a manufacturer blatantly overlooked a defective product.  

Securing Financial Compensation

If you have been injured because of another person’s negligent or careless actions, you have the right to pursue damages. Securing a skilled personal injury lawyer will give you the best chance of securing the financial recovery that you deserve.

It may not always be clear whether an event is an “accident” or an “injury.” Because of this, speaking with a knowledgeable legal professional is crucial. A personal injury attorney can help you to determine legal liability in your case.