What does “personal injury” mean?

Personal Injury FormI’m sure you’ve heard the term “personal injury” many times before. If you follow the news at all, you see court awards from a lawsuit for “personal injury”. Some court awards are outrageously high and others more reasonable. You probably have insurance on your car and home for “personal injury”. So what exactly does “personal injury” mean?

Personal injury is simply defined as “a legal term for an injury to the body, mind or emotions, as opposed to an injury to property”. This means that if you are injured from a car accident that was not your fault, you can claim damages from the person responsible for your injuries. This also means that if an incident causes mental or emotional injuries, you can also claim damages from the person responsible.

Injuries to the body are easy to see; a broken leg, whiplash, or something like a dislocated shoulder.  Injuries to the mind or emotions are harder to ascertain. If the injuries are life altering like becoming paralyzed, it’s easy to see how that would affect your mind and emotions. Imagine being an able bodied person one minute and a paraplegic in the next. This would definitely affect your mental and emotional well-being. Perhaps your injury caused a memory problem. This effect would alter your quality of life.  Any injury that causes your mental capacity to be affected would alter your quality of life. What about the emotional aspect of personal injury? Someone who was bitten by a dog may now fear dogs, whereas they never feared them before. If someone was struck by a car at an intersection, they might not be able to go anywhere near that spot again for fear of an anxiety attack. Anxiety attacks can present as rapid breathing, sweating and chest pains. Anything that causes an anxiety attack that is a result of the personal injury would be an emotional injury.

Personal injuries are not limited to car accidents, although this is the where the majority occur. Slips and falls at home, product defects, animal bites and machinery accidents are among some of the other personal injury causes. States may vary on certain aspects of “personal injuries”. It is always important to consult an attorney if you feel you have been injured and someone else is responsible. Your attorney can advise you on the proper steps to take if going to court.

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