All personal injury cases have basic requirements. Let’s start with a car accident hypothetical:
Sally is running late to work. She’s driving northbound on I-275 in Tampa, Florida—the route she drives every day. To try to make up for lost time, Sally is driving faster than she should.
Sally’s phone dings, and she picks it up. She reads her text message, taking her eyes off the road. Because Sally took her eyes off the road, she does not see that traffic has slowed down in front of her. Consequently, Sally crashes into the back of Tina’s vehicle.
Tina gets out of her car. Thankfully, she has no broken bones. Tina goes home—but as she calms down, she feels sharp, throbbing pain in her neck.
Tina goes to the doctor the next day. Now, the pain is radiating down her arms. The doctor diagnoses Tina’s pain as a direct result of the trauma from the car accident.
Now Tina is upset. She is in pain and in a way that she has never experienced before. She’s being bothered by insurance adjusters calling her phone over and over again. And Tina has some specific questions.
• Who is going to mow the lawn and take care of the household chores while she’s hurt?
• How is Tina going to pay the bills if she can’t work?
• Will Tina ever be able to go back to work?
• Should she talk to the insurance companies?
• Does Tina’s insurance pay for this? If not, who pays for this?
Over the next few months, Tina continues to see her doctor to try to overcome the pain and heal. But she is still hurt. She is still in pain.
Something has been taken from her.
Her pain-free life is been taken away.
Tina has been personally injured by Sally. Tina’s injuries happened because Sally violated the rules of the road. Sally owed Tina a duty to keep her eyes on the road to prevent wrecks. By speeding and checking her texts, Sally violated that duty.
Tina has a personal injury claim.
A personal injury claim is made up of the following:
1. Safety rules that exist. For example, all drivers on the road need to follow the basic safety rule of keeping their eyes on the road.
2. A person or a company violates a safety rule. In our example, Tina violated the safety rule by driving too fast and not keeping her eyes on the road because she was looking at her phone.
3. Injuries or damages suffered by another individual that were caused by a person or a company’s violation of a safety rule.
Let’t explore this a little more:
We find safety rules in a few places. In the law (“Speeding kills”). In industry standards (“Big stores need to keep their floors clean”). Or in a companies internal policies. (“In Walmart we believe in safety so we clean our floors every XX minutes”).
Violation of A Safety Rule:
The pulse of a personal injury claim is negligence. A person or company is negligent when they violate certain safety rules.
We discussed safety rules in a motor vehicle context above.
In a truck wreck case, a truck driver may have violated a safety rule of making sure the way is clear before crossing lanes. Or the truck driver and his employer may have violated a safety rule related to sleeping and rest. Or a trucking company may have violated a safety rule of making sure that the brakes on the truck are regularly services.
In a products liability case a drug manufacturer may have violated a safety rule of making sure the product was thoroughly tested before coming to market.
In a slip and fall case Wal-mart may have violated a safety rule of making sure to clean floors every 30 minutes to provide a safe walking environment for customers.
And in a negligent security case a bar may have violated safety standards by not installing video cameras, or hiring trained security people, or overserving patrons.
In all of the above the violation of safety rules means the person or company acted negligently.
Injuries Resulting from the Violation:
Finally, in a personal injury case we have to have injuries.
If a driver violates a safety law regarding a posted speed (‘Speed kills”) and causes a wreck but does not hurt the other driver than there is not a personal injury claim. Legally speaking we don’t have injury damages. In this case the victim is limited to only bringing an injury claim.
Does Tina need to hire a Tampa, Florida Personal Injury Law firm? We discuss that next in When You Need a Lawyer for a Personal Injury Claim.