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An Overview of Personal Injury Law In The State Of Utah

Interviewer: What are some of the most common type of injury cases?

Robert Cummings: I think your question hits right on the head of, personal injury, sometimes people don’t understand what falls under that umbrella. You just want to point to car accidents. If you’re driving down the road, and you get rear-ended or side-swiped, and the other party is completely at fault, that would be a case that would fall under the rubric of personal injury. Beyond the traditional car accident, there are plenty of other types of cases that also constitute personal injury. As the name implies, cases that personal injury attorneys handle, are where a person is injured by the negligence or intentional conduct of another party.

Slip and Fall Cases are A Large Group of Cases Falling Under the Personal Injury Rubric

Another group of cases that fall under the personal injury rubric would be what are called slip-and-fall cases. Essentially, the legal term for those is premises liability. What that means is, if a person is, say, at a grocery store, and they’re walking down the aisle and there’s a puddle of water, they step on that puddle of water, slip and injure themselves, there is potential liability for the grocery store, depending upon, among other things, policies related to cleaning up aisles, how long the water had been there, what employees noticed the water, had anybody reported the water on the tile … stuff of that nature.

Intentional Torts Involving Assault and Battery are also a Group of Cases Falling Under the Personal Injury Rubric

Depending upon the circumstances, the grocery store could be liable to the injured person and have to compensate that person for general and special damages, including medical bills, pain and suffering, lost wages, stuff of that nature. Beyond the car accident and slip-and-fall cases, you can also have what lawyers would call intentional torts. Most people have heard of the terms “assault and battery”. In civil cases, assault means when somebody has the intent to cause the apprehension of immediate contact in another. Battery is the intentional contact of another that results in harm.

Medical Malpractice Cases are a Form of Highly Specialized Personal Injury Cases

Those can be criminal cases. If somebody beats up another party; they could be tried criminally for that and held responsible, and have to pay fines and potentially face jail time. There can also be civil liability. The injured person, or the person that was beat up, could sue the responsible party i.e. The beating-up party and seek compensation from them for those injuries. Aside from those cases, there’s other, more complex cases, such as medical malpractice. This is where a doctor or other medical professional, who has performed services for a patient, and those services fell below the standard of care that doctors should abide by, and that breach about standard of care resulted in harm to the patient, that can be another personal injury type case.

Leaving a Scalpel or a Sponge Inside a Patient after a Surgery is a Typical Medical Malpractice Case

The one that comes to mind with the medical malpractice cases, those cases where you hear of a surgeon leaving a sponge or a scalpel inside somebody after a surgery; that’s usually the standard malpractice case that people look to and know of, but there’s others. If you reset a bone after a break, and you reset it incorrectly, or anesthesiologists face an incredible liability because of the technical nature of their practice, and the risks they pose. I would say those are the large buckets of personal injury cases that personal injury attorneys handle.