Personal Injury

There are many scenarios that may warrant a personal injury case. Any time a person or private entity causes harm to another through negligence, gross negligence, reckless conduct, intentional misconduct, or in some cases on the basis of strict liability, then the injured person is eligible to seek damages.

Burden of Proof in a Personal Injury Case
In the United States, our legal system runs on the principle of “innocent until proven guilty.” Because of this, in any personal injury case, it is up to the injured party to convince the court that the person being sued is responsible for causing their injuries. The burden of proof falls on the plaintiff to prove the defendant is guilty, rather than on the defendant to prove their innocence. Moreover, this burden of proof must be applied to every element of the case.
But just how convincing does the plaintiff need to be? The standard of proof in matters of civil law is called a “preponderance of evidence,” and it requires only that the plaintiff convinces the court that it is “more likely than not” that the defendant should be held liable for their injuries. Their version of the story must have at least a 51% likelihood of being true. This is in contrast to criminal law cases, where the plaintiff must prove the defendant’s guilt “beyond a reasonable doubt,” or above the threshold of 90% certainty.

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Affirmative Defense

Damages in personal injury

Types of personal injury cases

What Is An Affirmative Defense?

The defendant does not need to convince the courts of their version of events, with one exception: Affirmative Defense.

Sometimes, even if a plaintiff successfully convinces the court of every aspect of their injury claim, the defendant may prove additional facts that pose a complete or partial defense to the claim, eliminating or reducing the defendant’s culpability. There are more than 100 examples of potential affirmative defenses, including duress, assumption of risk, and self-defense.

If a defendant wishes to prove an affirmative defense, then they must meet the preponderance of evidence burden of proof. For example, if a plaintiff is an athlete who is injured during a sports game, and raises a personal injury claim against his coach, then the coach may bring up assumption of risk as an affirmative defense. He need only convince the court that the plaintiff “more likely than not” agreed to participate in a sport knowing the inherent risks of playing.

Damages In Personal Injury

The purpose of damages in personal injury cases are to compensate the injured party. In some cases, it can be challenging to assign a dollar amount. Money can’t “fix” most injuries. But, the goal is to try to provide some measure of justice and to minimize the future consequences of the event.

Depending on the event and type of injury, the different types of damages include:

  • Medical bills – Medical care is expensive. Even a single visit to the doctor with a few lab tests can be enough to cause financial hardship. In some cases, there is a need for life-long care. An award that includes medical damages will need to include enough to cover future medical costs.

  • Lost wages – Injuries frequently result in time off of work. Lost wages, including wages that would have been earned over the rest of the plaintiff’s lifetime had the injury not occurred, can be quite substantial. They can be periodic or permanent.

  • Emotional distress – Injuries are upsetting and can cause emotional distress. Psychiatric records or a diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can prove that there should be damages to compensate for emotional distress.

  • Punitive damages – Punitive damages are allowed in Maryland. Unlike other damages that compensate for loss, punitive damages are meant to punish. These are awarded at the discretion of the jury or the judge. Generally, they are for cases that involve an act of malice or gross negligence.

  • Pain and suffering – Pain and suffering damages usually take into account the actual financial loss and then use a multiplier to come up with a final number. Read more on the topic below.

Types Of Perosnal Injury Cases

There are many scenarios that may warrant a personal injury case. Any time a person or private entity causes harm to another through negligence, gross negligence, reckless conduct, intentional misconduct, or in some cases on the basis of strict liability, then the injured person is eligible to seek damages.

  • Motor vehicle accidents: Car accidents, trucking accidents, motorcycle accidents, bus accidents, and even bike accidents are common catalysts for personal injury cases, since most road accidents happen because someone isn’t being as careful as they should or following all the rules of the road, or because the road has not been properly maintained.
  • Slip and fall accidents: Slip and fall accidents may also be a cause for personal injury cases, if the property owner neglects their legal duty to keep the premises free of hazards.
  • Medical malpractice: Medical malpractice cases can arise when a medical professional provides a substandard degree of care that results in injury to their patient. (It is important to note that poor results from treatment do not always mean medical malpractice has occurred.)
  • Wrongful death: When someone is killed due to another’s carelessness, surviving loved ones can file a wrongful death lawsuit to pursue damages.
  • Dangerous and defective products: If a product does not work the way it should, it can lead to serious injury. Product designers and manufacturers are responsible for ensuring that their products are safe and that consumers have access to resources and information on how to use those products correctly; failure to ensure this could result in a products liability case.
  • Premises liability: If someone is injured due to a dangerous condition (such as missing handrails, slippery floors, dangerous animals, or more) on someone else’s land, then the property owner may be held liable for damages in a premises liability case.
  • Animal attacks: Dog bites and other animal attacks are often litigated as personal injury cases. In Maryland, under strict liability laws, pet owners are almost always liable for any damages caused by their pet.
  • Intentional torts: When an injury is not accidental or the result of negligence, but is instead the result of an intentional act, then not only can the plaintiff file a personal injury claim in a civil case against the defendant, but the defendant is also likely to be criminally prosecuted.

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About

Haque Law

Our firm represents a vast portfolio of clients in the business and healthcare industry. With over 40 years of combined experience, not only do we have in-depth legal knowledge, but we have direct hands-on experience inside the business and healthcare industry as owners and operators of pharmacies, executives of clinics, and managers of micro-hospitals. Our team is dedicated to building long-term personable relationships through long-lasting solutions. We achieve this by taking the time to better understand our clients goals and needs. Our ability to relate to our clients’ needs sets us apart from other law firms.

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