Tort-based crimes in the USA as based on the negligence of a person that ends up causing harm or injury to another person. Legal remedies that are made available to the injured person are known as Personal Injury law. It also allows for defenses against personal injury claims.
Unlike in criminal cases, there is no governmental involvement or representation. These civil lawsuits are brought about between two private parties. These are usually settled amongst themselves via lawyers, or the courts do it for them. Most personal injury law remedies are given in the form of compensation for the harm caused. The idea is to restore things to the way they were before the accident occurred. Some of the examples of negligence are drunk drivers, medical malpractice, dog bites where the owner of the dog can be held liable, and many others.
As one of the main criteria is establishing a breach of negligence, it becomes important to understand “what is negligence?”
Negligence is a breach of a duty of care that one person owes to another. It is a basic requirement to act responsibly, to protect people in their vicinity. While it is important to establish a nexus between the person and the duty of care they owed, which has now been breached, sometimes some accidents are not the direct consequence of one person. In case of unavoidable accidents, it is required to show that the defendant could have acted towards the prevention of such accidents. Some categories like “strict liability” hold manufacturers and premise owners responsible for any mishap that happens under their supervision or ownership of the space. For example, if an insect is found in a mass-produced drink, which caused food poisoning, the owner or manufacturer can be held liable for negligence causing personal injury for designing and selling an unsafe product.
The plaintiff in such situations usually asks the defendant for compensation. This compensatory amount is used to compensate for the medical bills, emotional distress that is caused, and any loss in earnings ensuing from an injury that handicaps the capability to earn. If there has been harm to any property, compensation for those damages is also asked of the defendant. Apart from these, there is usually also an ask for punitive damages that are meant to “punish and deter” the person from ever being as negligent ever again.
Apart from negligent action, a person can also intentionally commit a tort. Personal injury arising from such intentional torts was caused with an intention to harm the plaintiff. Examples like battery, assault, and false imprisonment are some of the examples of intentional torts.
There are very few defenses available to a person that is defending a liability of personal injury. The first and most common is that the injured party also had a duty of care in the scenario, and they are partially or wholly to blame for the injury they incurred. The second most common defense is that of “assumed risk.” Under this, the defendant argues that the plaintiff knew that the injury is a possibility due to the nature of the activity itself, in a way consenting to the act. For example, participating in dangerous sporting activities.
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