Personal injury is a term used to describe a variety of physical injuries, often caused by the intentional or careless (negligent) acts of another. Personal injury cases include, but are not limited to, auto or vehicular accidents, falls, product and prescription drug injuries, work injuries, medical malpractice injuries, nursing home injuries, and wrongful death.Types of Personal Injury ;
Traffic Accidents – NHTSA Report
The number of traffic deaths rose last year to its highest level in more than a decade. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) an estimated 42,850 people were killed in crashes nationwide last year. More than half this increase deaths were the result of rollover crashes involving Sports Utility Vehicles (SUVS) and pickup trucks, known for their propensity to flip over. Heavy drinking and a greater number of motorcyclists on the road were also significant contributing factors to the steep rise in traffic accident deaths.
Cars – Serious injuries on the rise
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHSTA), last year there were an estimated 6.2 million car accidents in the US resulting in more than 3.1 million injuries and more than 42,000 deaths. Motor-vehicle accidents caused more deaths among people aged 1 to 64 than any other injury and are responsible for the highest number of fatalities in the U.S. for people between the ages 6-27. Careless actions by negligent motorists account for a significant number of all serious accidents.
SUVs – Death toll highest in over a decade
Last year 10,626 were killed in SUV rollover accident, accounting for about a quarter of all traffic accident fatalities. Sports Utility Vehicles (SUVs) are among the most popular and best selling vehicles today. Many people think that SUVs are rugged and safe. Yet various studies and reports have indicated that many popular SUVs have a dangerous tendency to roll over in a collision or sharp turn, increasing one’s risk of serious or fatal injury. SUVs’ size, high center of gravity, narrow track width, and top-heavy designs make them up to three times more prone to rollovers than other vehicles. Moreover, some manufacturers fail to include important safety features (such as roll bars) on SUVs manufactured for consumer use on streets and highways. The rate of serious passenger injury in rollover crashes in 36% higher than in non-rollover crashes and rollover crashes are much more likely to result in serious head injuries than other types of accidents. Attorney state generals representing 40 states have accused automakers of running misleading ads promoting the safety of their SUVs. In response, the government is working on a better system to rate SUV stability and are considering requiring automakers to create safer SUV and pickup designs.
Motorcycles – Death toll rises for fifth consecutive year
A large number of serious or fatal auto accidents involve motorcycles. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), last year more than 50,000 motorcyclists were injured and 3,276 motorcyclists died in motorcycle accidents. Moreover, the NHTSA reports that motorcycle accidents are particularly devastating – an estimated 80% of all motorcycle accidents result in serious injury or death, compared to the 20% injury and fatality rate for passenger vehicle accidents. A significant number of motorcycle injuries and fatalities are the result of careless motorists who either do not see the oncoming motorcycle at all or do not see the motorcycle in time to avoid a crash. According to a 2001 report, 36 percent of motorcycle crashes were caused by a vehicle turning left while the motorcycle was going straight or passing.
Trucks – Significant increase in number of deaths
According to the NHTSA, in 2000, there were 453,000 large truck accidents resulting in 5,362 fatalities and approximately 42,000 injuries. More people die in large truck accidents than in planes, trains, ships and interstate buses combined. Reckless or careless driving, such as speeding and following too closely are usually the cause of rollover and jackknife accidents. Moreover, a significant number of large truck injuries are caused by truck driver fatigue. According to one study, over 20% of long haul truck drivers admitted to falling asleep at the wheel within the past month. The NHTSA reported that driver fatigue plays a critical role in 30% of large vehicle accidents. In 1999 an estimated 800 large truck accidents were the result of driver fatigue.
Passenger Vans – 17% increase in number of injuries
15-passenger vans are large vans that typically seat 14 passengers and a driver. There are more than 500,000 15-passenger vans used in the US, commonly used by colleges, churches, and other organizations to transport members on trips and outings. Tragically, 15-passenger vans have been involved in a large number of accidents resulting in serious injury and death. In the past decade, at least 647 people have been killed in crashes and 1,200 injured in passenger van rollovers. Most of the fatalities, 492, occurred in single-vehicle rollovers, in which the vans flipped over without colliding with other vehicles.
Work Related Injuries
According to the U.S. Department of Labor (USDOL), 5,650,100 Americans suffered work-related injury or illnesses and 5,915 Americans died as a result of work-related injuries. Many of these injuries and deaths were the result of unsafe working conditions, practices, or work environment brought about by employer carelessness or wrongdoing.
Slip and Fall Injuries
According to the National Safety Council (NSC) over 540,000 slip and fall injuries, requiring hospital care occur each year and account for 300,000 disabling injuries and 20,000 deaths. Slip and falls are the number one cause of injuries in hotels, restaurants, and public places and the leading cause of death at the workplace.
Personal Injury & the Law
The law allows persons and families to recover appropriate monetary damages and compensation from responsible parties, including damages for medical bills, property loss, pain and suffering, lost wages, and in some instances punitive damages (damages to punish the responsible party).
A party may be held liable for personal injury or wrongful death even if their harmful actions were unintentional or accidental. A defendant will be held liable if it can be shown that the defendant’s negligent (careless) conduct caused the plaintiff’s injury. Negligence is the failure to exercise the degree of care expected of an ordinary reasonable person in like circumstances in protecting others from a foreseeable and unreasonable risk of harm in a particular situation. A person will generally be found negligent (and therefore responsible) if it can be shown that they either did something that an ordinary, reasonable person would not do or the failed to do something that an ordinary, reasonable person would do, under the same or similar circumstances.
In some cases, a party may be held liable even without a showing of intentional wrongdoing or negligence, under the law of “strict liability”. Such cases typically arise in cases involving injuries caused by unsafe or defective products. To recover in a products liability action, an injured party must show that a defective product was the cause of injuries, was defective at the time of purchase, and was used for its intended purpose.
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