Everyday thousands of people are injured in accidents of one kind or another. However, personal injury law can be complex and whether a person is injured in an auto accident, a slip and fall accident or by a defective product, people often have a hard time knowing if they have a personal injury case against the person or persons who caused the accident.
Generally, when you are injured due to the negligence of another, you can seek to be compensated by the party at fault. This article is written to help you better understand when you have a personal injury case in Oklahoma and the process that your attorney must go through in making that determination.
Personal injury law covers a wide spectrum injuries that can result from a variety of circumstances. The most common types of personal injury cases involve car accidents, slip and and fall accidents (also known as premises liability), product liability and medical malpractice. Each of these categories may differ in the context and type of injury you might suffer. But in each case, in order for a person to be obligated to compensate you for your injuries, his or her liability for the damage you sustained must be established.
Liability is the legal term for “fault,” and for the purpose of personal injury lawsuits fault is generally determined in three different ways:
1. by negligence.
2. by strict liability.
3. by intention.
In order for a person to be found negligent, four basic elements must be present:
The defendant must have had a legal duty (responsibility) to behave in certain manner towards you. For example, we have a legal responsibility to operate our cars with a reasonable amount of care for the safety of others.
The defendant must have breached this duty to you. Driving recklessly at anytime is a breach of a driver’s duty to other motorists on the road.
You must have suffered an injury. Physical injuries, financial losses and emotional trauma are all examples of injuries.
The defendant’s breach of duty must have been the proximate (most direct) cause of your injuries. If a shop owner forgets to clean up or warn you of a spill on the floor and you slipped and fell, his or her forgetting to clean-up or warn you of the spill is the proximate cause of your injuries.
For strict liability, negligence need not be proven. This means that a party will be held at fault regardless of whether they acted negligently or not. This is often applicable to activities that are particularly hazardous in nature, such as in the transportation of explosives or other volatile material.
Strict liability is also applicable in product liability cases. For the manufacturer of a product to be held liable for injuries you sustain while using the product, you need only prove that the product was defective.
Intentional fault is present where someone intentionally does harm to you, such as in cases of libel, slander or assault and battery. Intention is not as easy to prove as it may seem, and it usually comes down to the court determining if the defendant knew that his or her actions would cause you harm.
In addition to meeting the conditions above, your right to compensation will depend on a number of different factors, including the type of injury, the circumstances leading to your injury and how much you are personally at fault.
Generally, even in cases where you are partially responsible for your injuries, you may still seek partial compensation from the other party. Oklahoma personal injury law follows the theory of modified comparative fault-50%, which allows plaintiffs who are partially at fault to be awarded proportionate compensation, as long as they are less than 50% at fault for the injuries they have sustained.
An experienced personal injury attorney can help you in assigning liability for your injuries and in determining if the circumstances of your particular accident warrant filing a personal injury claim.
Free Consultation: Wagoner Personal Injury Attorney
For a free consultation with a Wagoner, Oklahoma personal injury lawyer, call Wirth Law Office – Wagoner at (918) 485-0335 (or toll free at (888) Wirth-Law). Or, as always, you may enter a legal question in the form at the top right of this page.