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Personal Injury: 

The modern phrase we're all familiar with is "personal injury," but it's also known as "tort," the French word for "wrong." Personal injury or tort law is intended to compensate you if someone's carelessness, recklessness or intentional misconduct injures or damages you or your personal belongings. For example, if someone hits the back of your car while you are stopped at a red light, that person commits a tort.

The person who commits such a wrong is often referred to as the "tortfeasor," from the French for "wrongdoer." If the person harmed files a lawsuit, he or she is called a "plaintiff" or "claimant," and the wrongdoer is called a "defendant."

Torts can be classified in three broad categories: negligence, intentional torts and strict (or absolute liability) torts.

How do you define negligence?
The most common tort--and the one most difficult to define--is negligence. Negligence is defined as the failure to use reasonable care to avoid a foreseeable harm to a person, place or thing. An individual will be liable if his or her unreasonable act or failure to act causes an injury, even if the harm is unintentional.

Some common negligence claims involve:

  • slip and fall accidents (a person slips, falls and is injured on someone else's property);
  • alcoholic beverage liability (a provider of alcohol--either a social host or bartender--serves too many drinks to an underage or noticeably intoxicated individual who is then involved in an accident that causes injury to a third person);
  • injuries on the job (workplace accidents);
  • motor vehicle accidents (accidents caused by reckless or careless driving); and
  • medical malpractice (when a doctor doesn't maintain the level of skill and knowledge commonly exercised by other doctors).
How do you define intentional tort?
Intentional harm or intentional tort is the "malicious" or "intentional" infliction of harm that results in injury. For example, if a person involved in an emotional dispute with you purposely hits you with the intent to hurt you physically, the person must compensate you for your injuries. Types of intentional torts are:
  • Assault
  • Battery
  • False imprisonment
  • Intentional infliction of emotional distress
  • Fraud and misrepresentation
  • Wrongful death
  • Harm to reputation (defamation)
  • Trespass
  • Trespass to chattel (theft of personal property)
  • Unauthorized contamination of property
Many intentional torts are also criminal offenses. For example, an assault can result in both civil charges and criminal charges.

How do you define strict (absolute) liability?
Strict or absolute liability means that the defendant is responsible for injuring another person regardless of negligence or intent. Some instances in which the law might apply strict liability are with regard to product liability, abnormally dangerous or ultra-hazardous activities and animal owner's liability. For example, a plaintiff may be entitled to compensation after a defective product injures him or her regardless of whether the manufacturer was actually negligent. In other words, the plaintiff only has to prove that a product is defective or unreasonably dangerous and that the defect caused the injury. It is not necessary to show that the manufacturer was careless or negligent, which is much more difficult to prove.

Fred J. Fleming have been successful in settlement and trial verdicts that range from several hundred thousand dollars to millions of dollars just over the last year.

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