Pop quiz: how many ways are there that someone can wrong you, and an Arizona personal injury attorney (that’d be me) or a Washington accident lawyer (yup, still me) can help?
You’re probably able to rattle off the usual suspects:
- Car Accidents
- Dog Bites / Animal Injuries
- Slip and Fall
Just kidding about that last one, it’s not all that common, although you’d think it was by all the lawyers trying to sign you up for it. Regardless, it’s probably safe to say I’ve listed the big ones that everybody thinks of. They all involve negligence: somebody was careless, you got hurt, and now they wrongdoer owes you money (or, more likely, their insurance company does).
Here are some more examples of negligence causing problems:
- Medical Malpractice: doctors are still humans, and they’re not above the law. When they mess you up, they must fix you up.
- Defective Products/Warnings: manufacturers, distributors and sellers of things are all required to make sure their product is safely designed, in good condition, and appropriate for the use which they recommend you use it for. They also have to warn you–and not just in the fine print!–of anything dangerous you should know about the product.
- Negligent Hiring/Supervision: businesses and care industries need to make sure they are on top of their hiring, training, and supervision. If, for example, a trucking company hires a known drug user, or a daycare hires a child abuser without conducting a proper background check, or if a parent gives a dangerous toy to a child who harms another person, they are often responsible for what they failed to prevent.
- Truck/Motorcycle/Boat Accidents: these are similar to normal car accidents, but are usually much worse. Did you know that the average 18-wheeler going down the highway weighs almost 80,000 pounds??? If they hit your 3,000-pound family car, you’ve got problems, and they need to pay–especially because the truck was driven by an expert, a professional driver. Motorcycle accidents are also especially bad, as the riders have so little protection. Sadly, the #1 killer of motorcyclists is the car driver who wasn’t looking carefully before turning in front of the motorcyclist. That’s not okay! As for boats, when we combine alcohol, showing off, risk of drowning, and distance from first aid all into one event–people need to be extra careful. When they’re not, they need to take responsibility for the harm they caused.
- Dangerous Workplace: Worker’s Compensation generally takes care of the costs of workplace injuries and disabilities … but only the medical and rehabilitative costs. If your employer was still genuinely negligent in allowing your workplace to be dangerous, or if he sent you to do a dangerous task, you may have a big case, especially if your family is affected through wrongful death or impairment in intimate relations with a spouse.
- Dangerous Roads: the government has a duty to keep roads safe, including keeping up proper signage, line painting, traffic signals, speed limits, and so on. If you are in a crash, even a single-car crash where you lost control, it may not have been your fault.
- Dangerous Property: whether you’re visiting a commercial shop, a public place, or a neighbor’s home, the keepers of that property have duties to make it safe for visitors. If you’re hurt while out and about, you have legal rights to recovery. Also, these types of cases are almost always covered in full by insurance, so even if you were hurt visiting a friend, your injury claim should have minimal financial impact to your friend, if any.
- Poor Workmanship: someone who builds or repairs your property has a duty to give you a quality product when all the work is done. Construction defects, faulty repairs, and many more problems associated with sloppy work usually have legal remedies.
- Wrongful Death: although many of the above instances of negligence result, tragically, in the snuffing out of a bright and beautiful life, they are far from being the only ways someone can be responsible for the death of another.
Negligence is only one type of law that can help compensate you for your losses. The law also provides remedies for you if you have been injured by a loss of privacy, if someone trespasses against your property or land, if a neighbor becomes a nuisance, if someone spreads lies about you, if someone touches you or threatens to touch you in a harmful or offensive way, and even if someone is just being an idiot and does something truly ridiculous or disgusting to you.
- Assault & Battery: assault and battery are NOT just criminal offenses! They are civil wrongs that entitle you to compensation. And they are much easier to prove than criminal assault or battery. Believe it or not, simple things like pranks, practical jokes, putting something in your food, shoving, grabbing, or any kind of harmful or offensive touching to you (or even if someone contacts something close to you, like your clothes or something you’re holding, or even riding on or in) are almost always legal harms for which you are due compensation. Even if the bad guy fails to touch you, just knowing that he tried to do something wrong to you can be enough to win your case. Call for more details if you think anybody did something offensive to you in a physical way.
- False Arrest / False Imprisonment: if someone keeps you, against your will, from moving freely on your own (in a place you would otherwise be allowed to be), they have committed a civil wrong against you. An exception exists for police and for shopkeepers who suspect you have shoplifted from them, but only for a short time (and sometimes not even for any amount of time!).
- Infliction of Emotional Distress: did you know you might be able to sue someone just for being a supreme jerk? According to the law, you don’t have to put up with that. It’s not just physical harms that you can take someone to court for. If someone did something outrageously offensive or otherwise shocking to you, you may be able to get that person to clean up his act…and pay you.
- Damaging/Wrecking/Losing Your Stuff: “You break it, you bought it” isn’t just some words on a sign in a store. If someone damages your property, or does anything to reduce it in value (including a total loss), the law can help. Technically these harms are called Trespass to Chattel or Conversion of Property.
- Trespassing: if someone is on your property without your permission, they’re trespassing, plain and simple. This is true even if you invite them to your property and later ask them to leave. If they enter (or stay upon) your property, you will be able to seek damages, especially if the trespasser damaged any of your property, accidentally or not. Also, sending something or someone onto your property (e.g., letting their dog or children into your yard, or throwing stuff into your yard) is trespass.
- Drone Intrusion: if someone is flying a drone over your property, you might also have a trespass case, even if the drone never touches your property.
Reputation Damage & Breach of Privacy
- Slander: if someone says something false about you that damages your reputation, you have a slander case almost every time. Whether someone is spreading false rumors about you or even accusing you falsely to your face of something you did not do (or of being something you are not, such as a cheater or a thief) it’s usually slander, and you should have an easy time suing the person spreading the falsehoods.
- Libel: this is the same as slander, except for “published” forms of communication, such as in a newsletter, magazine, blog, podcast, or YouTube video.
- False Light: if someone strongly alludes to something about you but doesn’t actually come out and say it, you won’t have a Slander or Libel case, but you may have a similar claim, called False Light.
- Intrusion of Privacy: even if someone is spreading true information about you, if that information is private, you may be able to sue, especially if it’s a very personal secret.
- Using Your Pictures or Videos Without Permission: unless you consented to someone’s using your photo or video (or a photo or video with you in it), that person has committed a legal harm which entitles you to make them stop, and maybe to pay you damages. Certain exceptions apply, so if you suspect you have a case, be sure to call to clarify your legal position.
Tally of Injuries
How did you do?
Depending on how you count them, there are at least 25 types of personal injury on this page—and these are not even all of the ways someone can harm you. I’ve purposefully left out such things as Police Brutality, Interference with Business Relations, Copyright Infringement (and other “Intellectual Property” harms), Fraud, Misrepresentation, Malicious Prosecution, Strict Liability, and more.
The point is, regardless of whether or not you think you have a case, you really should talk to an attorney about it. The number of ways the law can be on your side can be amazing. If you’re the least bit curious to know: