When we hear the word “injury” we think of a physical wound: a broken arm, a concussion, or something else that could send a person to the doctor. The legal definition of injury includes this kind of physical condition, but also includes many other types of harm. In fact, “injury” is a comprehensive legal term that means any kind of harm done to a person. This is because the law views an individual as more than just a body—they are a human being with rights and dignity. Any injury to their personhood is a serious loss, just as physical injuries are.
A legal injury may be:
- Damage to someone’s reputation
- Destruction, damage, or devaluing of their property (or having it stolen)
- Violations of their rights
- Harm to their health or body
- Wrongful death
- A combination of any of these
In many cases, the person who caused the injury is considered liable for the harm or loss that they caused. This is true if:
- The person caused the injury through negligence (such as distracted driving)
- The person caused the injury intentionally (such as robbing someone)
- By violating a contract or legal duty (such as not paying a business partner their agreed-upon share of profits)
In these cases, the person who caused the harm—sometimes called the tortfeasor —will have to pay money known as “damages” to help replace what was lost and pay for the full cost of the injury.
Are there times when the person who causes an injury is not legally liable?
Yes. For example, if you fought off a mugger and hurt them in the process, you are not liable because you had a legal right to self-defense. Even if they tried to sue you for their injuries, their lawsuit would fail. Courts do not take these kinds of claims seriously.
However, what the courts see much more often is that the people who are injured really did have their rights violated—even if the other party refuses to admit it. We see this a lot in medical device claims. Imagine that you agreed to have a medical device put in your body but you weren’t warned of a serious side effect. Later, when you start to suffer from the side effect, the company that made the device may try many arguments to avoid liability. They may point out that you knew the device was “risky” when you tried it, or that the device cured another condition of yours so it did more good than bad. But these arguments are just a smokescreen. The reality is, you weren’t warned of that specific risk and you had a legal right to know all the risks before you agreed to the procedure. The company broke its duty to you and is liable for the injury they caused.
How does money make up for the harm caused by an injury?
The truth is, money often cannot replace what was lost or undo an injury. This is especially true in personal injury cases where the victim has permanent health effects from what happened. In some cases, the victim even loses their life—no money will change that.
The point of the law is to try to help the victim (or their family) become “whole.” This could mean actually fixing the injury, such as replacing stolen goods, or it could mean using money to offset the impact the injury has had on their life. This is the entire idea behind having the tortfeasor pay financial damages to the victim.
The most common damages we see in personal injury cases include:
- The cost of car repairs or replacing property
- All medical costs and long-term care costs associated with the injury
- The value of any time missed at work
- Money to offset the impact of a disability or permanent condition
- Money to offset the impact of severe pain or emotional trauma
- Money to offset the impact of a permanently altered health level or lifestyle
This money can help a person or their family stay financially stable as they deal with a serious injury. In some cases, it is a lifeline. That is why the law takes injuries and damages so seriously.
Have you been injured? John Foy & Associates offers a free consultation with some of the most experienced and respected personal injury lawyers in Georgia. Fill out the form to your right or call us at 404-400-4000 to get your FREE consultation today.