Personal injury law derives from one of the law’s oldest and simplest principles: When people negligently hurt a person or damage their property, they should pay for the harm done. Personal injury laws in Chicago, across Illinois, and the rest of the nation are based on the basic premise that individuals have a duty to act with reasonable care. When someone fails fulfill this duty, and it causes harm to another, they have committed a “tort,” which is an 11th century English word for “wrong, hurtful and harmful” conduct.
Common Types of Personal Injury Claims
Every day, personal injury attorneys take cases that run the gamut from dog bites and slippery sidewalks to major defective product cases or medical malpractice. The most common Chicago personal injury claims involve the following categories or types:
- General Negligence Cases – As noted above, negligence occurs when individuals break their duty to act with the reasonable that an ordinary person in similar circumstances would exercise. When such negligent conduct results in injuries to another, the negligent individual can be found responsible for damages. Common examples of negligence cases include car accident cases.
- Product liability - When a product is defectively designed or manufactured and causes injury to a consumer, the victim may hold the manufacturer liable for the harm the product has done to them. Some of the more famous product liability cases have held various major companies responsible for injuries due to scalding-hot coffee, exploding gas tanks, disintegrating tires, and harmful side-effects of drugs.
- Medical malpractice -Medical malpractice cases are a variant of the negligence cases described above. Like everyone else, medical professionals owe their patients a duty of reasonable care in treatment. However, as professionals, Illinois law holds them to a higher standard of care, comparing physicians’ and other medical professionals’ actions to those of medical professionals in similar circumstances. If a medical professional’s actions were not consistent with those of an average prudent physician of similar training and expertise, they may be liable for harms suffered as a direct result of their negligence.
- Workplace injuries – Employers generally must provide a clean, safe, hazard-free work environment. When work inevitably poses risks to employees’ health and safety, the employer must warn of those risks and provide personal protective equipment or specialized training. If an individual is injured on the job as a direct result of an employer’s failure to meet these responsibilities, they are entitled to compensation for your medical expenses, rehabilitation costs, lost earnings, and “loss of the enjoyment of life,” also known as “pain and suffering.” Many workplace injuries are covered by the Workers’ Compensation system and not by negligence lawsuits. The workers’ compensation system provides a legal framework for workers to recover for on-the-job injuries.
Personal Injury: Next Steps
Many victims of personal injuries feel reluctant to take legal action, for many understandable reasons, not the least being victims’ continued pain and suffering, as well as a reluctance to face a daunting legal process. However, laws impose strict timelines on personal injury cases and individuals who have not been fully compensated for another individual’s negligence or misconduct may be well advised to contact a local personal injury attorney for advice.