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The majority of personal injury cases are decided using the liability standard of negligence. When a party is found to be negligent in relation to some harm inflicted, they will typically be liable to the party which the harm was inflicted upon. The negligence standard, however, will not apply in every instance in which harm resulted. In order for negligence to be present, it must be proven that the defendant in the tort action acted in a manner unlike how a reasonable prudent person would in similar circumstances.
Examples of negligence can be found whenever the party responsible for some harm ignored potential risks, and harm results. Drunk driving, for instance, is considered negligent. While a reasonable person has the duty to exercise reasonable care while driving, once intoxicated, the individual no longer acts with care, breaching that duty. Because operating a vehicle while intoxicated increases the chances of a car crash or motorcycle accident, possible resulting in a wrongful death, the resulting civil action will be based in negligence.
Other common examples of negligent conduct can be found in restaurants and stores on a daily basis. A store failing to provide adequate notification after mopping a floor puts customers at risk to slip and fall. Here, the store may have a duty to provide a safe environment in areas under their control, so if such an area is hazardous, premise liability may apply when the duty is breached.
Additional standards for liability are strict liability, usually found in product liability cases, or intentional torts, only found when one party wanted to cause some harm.
If liability is established, the party responsible for the harm will likely be ordered to pay a certain amount to try and make the injured party whole again. This payment is the damages. Medical bills, property damage, lost wages, or a diminished ability to make a living are among the more common types of damage to be reimbursed. Punitive damages can also apply however, and are used to punish serious misconduct by the responsible party.
One thing to keep in mind with any personal injury claim is that the statute of limitations is set by jurisdiction, and there is no uniform standard. The statute of limitations varies depending on the type of harm inflicted, and if no lawsuit is initiated within the permissible time frame, all claims will be considered waived.