Millions of personal injury lawsuits are filed each year in Connecticut and around the country, and almost all of them are based on the civil tort of negligence. This means civil plaintiffs rarely have to prove that the defendant intended to cause them harm. While some of these cases are argued before juries, the vast majority of them are settled at the negotiating table. When personal injury cases do go to court, civil plaintiffs do not have to meet the same high standard of proof as criminal prosecutors.
In criminal cases, guilt must be proved beyond reasonable doubt. Civil cases are decided on the preponderance of the evidence. This means that civil plaintiffs must only convince the members of the jury that their allegations are more likely true than false. Personal injury lawsuits all have four basic elements.
- Duty of care: The plaintiff must first show that the defendant owed them a duty of care. This is usually pretty straightforward as all people are expected to do everything that they reasonably can to protect others from injury.
- Failure to meet the duty of care: The plaintiff must then convince the jury that the defendant failed to meet their duty of care.
- Injury: In order to recover damages in a personal injury lawsuit, the plaintiff must be able to demonstrate that they suffered physical or financial harm.
- Direct cause: This is often the most contentious part of a personal injury lawsuit. During this phase of the proceedings, the plaintiff must establish that they suffered injury, loss or damage as a direct cause of the defendant’s reckless behavior.
Common Types of Personal Injury Lawsuits
The five most common types of personal injury cases in Connecticut and other states are:
- Car accident lawsuits
- Wrongful death lawsuits
- Medical malpractice lawsuits
- Premises liability lawsuits
- Product liability lawsuits
It is also important to know that workers injured in on-the-job accidents are generally prevented from filing personal injury lawsuits by state workers’ compensation programs. However, exceptions may be made in cases where employers acted with gross negligence. What follows is more information about each of the common types of personal injury lawsuits.
- Car accident lawsuits: This is the most common type of personal injury litigation. Tens of thousands of motorists are killed each year and millions more are injured in accidents that almost always involve some sort of human error. Negligent drivers are usually sued because they behaved recklessly behind the wheel, but they can also face civil sanctions because they failed to properly maintain their vehicles or ignored known safety defects. Car accident lawsuits may also be filed against government agencies in situations where injuries were caused by dangerous road conditions that should have been repaired.
- Wrongful death lawsuits: This kind of lawsuit is filed when a life is lost because of the negligent actions of others. In Connecticut as in most other states, wrongful death actions may only be initiated by the administrator or executor of the deceased person’s estate and any damages awarded are paid to the estate. Most of the damages in wrongful death cases are awarded to compensate the deceased person’s dependent family members for the income that their loved one would have earned had they not been killed.
- Medical malpractice lawsuits: This kind of lawsuit is filed against doctors or facilities like hospitals or clinics when the level of health care they provided was not up to standards generally accepted in the medical profession. Medical malpractice lawsuits may be based on a failure to diagnose a medical condition or diagnosing the wrong condition, as well as mistakes such as leaving an item inside a patient during surgery. In most cases, medical malpractice plaintiffs were already sick or injured when they visited a doctor or hospital, which means their biggest challenge is proving that the defendant’s negligent actions were the direct cause of their injury, loss or damage.
- Premises liability lawsuits: These cases are filed by people who were injured in an accident caused by a dangerous condition that a property owner or occupier knew about or should have known about and failed to address. Premises liability lawsuits are often brought by individuals who were injured in slip-and-fall accidents, but they may also be filed by crime victims against defendants who failed to put adequate security measures into place.
- Product liability lawsuits: These lawsuits are filed by consumers who are injured by defective or dangerous products. The compensation in these cases is often high as it frequently includes punitive damages that are awarded to punish the defendant and deter others from acting in the same reckless manner. When hundreds or even thousands of consumers are injured, product liability lawsuits may be brought as class actions. The defendants in product liability lawsuits can be manufacturers, pharmaceutical companies, retailers, government agencies or individuals.
Know Your Rights
If you have been injured or suffered a financial loss because of the negligent actions of another party, you may be wise to consult with an experienced personal injury attorney before taking legal action. The personal injury lawyers at the Moynahan Law Firm have decades of experience representing accident victims in Connecticut, and they will advocate fiercely on your behalf to see that you are fairly compensated for your injuries. If you would like to learn more about how we will work to hold the negligent party who injured you responsible for their actions, call us today on (203) 597-6364 or use our online contact form.
Timothy C. Moynahan is the CEO and owner of Moynahan Partners, which offers business development consultancy, identifying strategic business partnerships and funding sources. He founded and heads the Moynahan Law Firm, Waterbury, Connecticut. He is a sought-after and successful trial lawyer, earning the Super Lawyer of New England and Connecticut awards from 2009 to 2012 and Best Criminal Defense Attorney accolade in 2013.