While claims arising out of auto accidents are the most common type, any claim arising out of bodily, mental or emotional injury is a personal injury claim. Such claims are typically first asserted against the insurance company for the person or entity that causes harm to the claimant, under circumstances making them legally responsible for that harm. Personal injury lawsuits are filed against the at-fault party, named as the defendant in the lawsuit, when the claim cannot be resolved before the statute of limitations on the claim expires. Fault is usually based on the legal theory of negligence. Negligence is the failure to take reasonable care under the circumstances that causes harm to another. Personal injury claims may also be based on intentional conduct, such as an assault, or in some cases strict liability, where responsibility may be imposed without a showing of negligence or intent to harm.
Slip and fall and trip and fall claims fall under the general category of premises liability claims. These types of claims are based on negligence. Slip and fall claims typically involve businesses, such as grocery stores and restaurants, where the business proprietor fails to take proper precautions in connection with slippery substances on the floor. Trip and fall claims often occur on sidewalks and parking lots, where the property owner or occupier fails to take proper precautions with respect to hazards on their premises, such as raised sidewalk slabs or holes in the pavement.
Although they are beloved companions, sometimes dogs will bite. Claims arising out of dog bites are typically based on strict liability in Washington. RCW 16.08.040. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), nearly 1 in 5 people bitten by a dog will require medical attention. Children are more likely than adults to be bitten and their injuries can be more severe. CDC, Preventing Dog Bites.
Unsafe products may also cause injury. Personal injury claims as a result of such injuries are often referred to as products liability claims. Products liability claims can be based on several different liability theories, including strict liability, negligence and breach of warranty. RCW 7.72.030 and RCW 7.72.040.
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, someone turning 65 today has an almost 70% chance of needing some type of long-term care services. Unfortunately, personal injury claims also arise as a result of neglect by healthcare providers in nursing homes. Washington’s Abuse of Vulnerable Adults Act is addressed to providing protection for vulnerable, elderly adults.