Understanding Personal Injury as a Legal Term


While the term “personal injury” may seem obvious, few members of the general public would ever guess that it has any relationship to the term “tort.” According to Cornell Law School’s Legal Information Institute, a tort is “an act or omission that gives rise to injury or harm to another.” As you can see, the term (personal) injury, and the field of personal injury law, is actually a direct subset of tort and tort law. But what exactly does this mean?

Personal Injury Law Pursues Damages

Under tort law, personal injury lawsuits seek to provide relief to injured parties for harms caused by others, hold responsible parties liable for harms, and discourage others from committing future harms. These goals are achieved by awarding damages. These awards provide monetary compensation to the harmed party. Damages typically help recover losses, including:

  • Medical and rehabilitative expenses incurred by the injured party
  • Any income the victim may lose while injured or in recovery
  • Diminished earning potential as a result of the injury
  • Pain and suffering or other physical injuries
  • Lost quality of life or other emotional injuries
  • Funerary expenses, lost wages, and loss of consortium in cases of wrongful death

In the event of a severe tort or an intentional wrongdoing, victims may be awarded punitive damages, which are designed to punish the wrongdoer and discourage others from acting in a similar way.

Negligence and Liability

In personal injury and other tort cases, fault is determined through negligence and liability. Both of these concepts arise from the failure to uphold a duty of care. Generally, negligence deals with duties imposed on us by law or profession, and liability deals with obligations given to us by our business or property. Let’s break it down:

  • When you are driving, you owe a duty of care to those around you. This means you must follow the rules of the road, pay attention, and drive as safely as possible. If you violate this duty of care by texting while driving, driving under the influence, or otherwise behaving carelessly, you could be found negligent. Someone who is found to be negligent is automatically at fault for any accident caused by their behavior. If you are reading this blog, chances are, you are the one suffering from someone else’s negligent or careless behavior. DiPasquale Moore can help hold them accountable.
  • When a medical professional is working, they have an obligation to meet the standards of care defined by their profession. This means that if a doctor or nurse makes a mistake that another doctor or nurse would not have made under similar circumstances, they can be found negligent. For example, if a nursing home resident suffers from malnourishment or dehydration because a nurse failed to supervise their meals, the nursing home could be found responsible for abuse or neglect.
  • When a manufacturer designs and produces a product, they are responsible for making sure that product is reasonably safe, or for providing a warning if it is not. This sub-field of personal injury law is called product liability. Under product liability, you can hold a manufacturer accountable for an injury you received while using their product. For example, our team at DiPasquale Moore is helping many U.S. veterans hold 3M liable for hearing loss they sustained while using 3M’s defective earplugs.
  • Similarly, premises liability helps ensure businesses and property-owners maintain a safe environment. If you are hurt on someone else’s property because they failed to remove a hazard, you can hold them responsible for your accident. For example, if you slip on spilled mayonnaise at a busy sandwich restaurant, and if the spill was ignored because the employees kept working instead of cleaning it up, the shop-owner will likely be liable for your accident.

Personal Injury Attorneys

In any of the above cases, hiring a personal injury lawyer increases your chances of receiving the damages you are entitled to. At DiPasquale Moore, we focus exclusively on personal injury law and have over 100 years of combined experience handling cases just like yours! We have received several six-figure wins on behalf of our clients and look forward to fighting for you.

What are you waiting for? Call (816) 888-7500 and set up a free consultation today.


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