An injured woman discussing a personal injury lawsuit with a lawyer

What Qualifies as a Personal Injury Lawsuit?

What is considered a personal injury?

A personal injury is an injury you acquire as a result of another party’s negligence.

In other words, if you are hurt and another person or entity is to blame, you have a strong personal injury case.

This can include physical pain and injuries, as well as “pain and suffering” — the legal term for mental pain and injuries and psychological trauma caused by an accident.

In any personal injury lawsuit, the victim files a claim against the at-fault party with the goal of receiving compensation for their injuries.

What can I demand personal injury compensation for?

In many cases, you may have grounds for compensation beyond your obvious, current injuries.

Depending on your situation, you may be able to recover damages for:

  • Post-accident emergency medical treatment
  • Current AND future accident-related medical treatment, medications, and therapy
  • Pain and suffering
  • Disability
  • Wages lost during the period of injury
  • And property damage

In rare cases, you may be able to recover punitive damages, as well. But this only applies when the at-fault party’s behavior was “grossly negligent.”

How to recover damages for a personal injury

To recover personal injury damages in North Carolina, you need to prove a few things:

  • That the at-fault party owed you a “duty of care”
  • That they breached that “duty of care”
  • Pain and suffering
  • That the breach directly caused your injuries
  • And that the injuries impacted you financially

Let’s unpack this a little bit.

The legal term “duty of care” refers to a person’s responsibility to treat others with the amount of care (watchfulness, attention, and caution) that a reasonable person would use in the same situation.

So, to prove the at-fault party broke their “duty of care,” you’ve first got to establish that they were obligated to avoid acting in a way that put you at risk of injury. Such obligations include things like driving safely and keeping their property hazard-free.

Then, if the at-fault party failed to satisfy that obligation (and you were hurt because of it), you have the beginnings of a strong personal injury case.

If you do file a personal injury claim, be sure to do so within your state’s designated time limit — called the “statute of limitations.” For most North Carolina personal injury cases, you must file your claim within the first 3 years after the accident or injury. When the injury leads to death, you need to file within 2 years from death.

Types of personal injury cases

Wondering if your particular case would qualify for a personal injury lawsuit?

Here are some of the most common personal injury cases:

  • Motor Vehicle Accidents — Car crashes are by far the most common kind of personal injury case in the U.S., usually occurring when one (or both) parties don’t follow the designated road rules.
  • Slip-and-Fall, or “Premises Liability” — Property-owners have the obligation to keep their property safe and clear of hazards. If you are injured as a result of a hazard on their premises, you may have a case against them.
  • Product Liability — In a similar way, if a poorly designed or defective product causes you harm at home, in a public place, or at work, you may have grounds for personal injury compensation.
  • Dog Bites — Dog-owners generally have the responsibility to make sure their dog doesn’t bite (or otherwise harm) another person. If an injury occurs, they have to provide financial compensation for the harm. In most cases, North Carolina dog-owners are protected from liability the very first time their dog hurts someone.
  • Assault, Battery, & Other Intentional Injuries — Unlike many other personal injury cases, these are situations in which the at-fault party actually intended to cause harm. Of course, such cases can incur criminal charges, but you may also bring up a personal injury lawsuit to demand compensation for your injuries.
  • Wrongful Death — When someone dies as a result of a personal injury, it is considered a “wrongful death.” In North Carolina, only the “personal representative” (or “executor”) of the victim’s estate can file a wrongful death claim.

Other personal injury cases include — but are not limited to — nursing home abuse or neglect, food poisoning, asbestos exposure, and airplane and boating incidents.

NOTE: Many people think workplace accidents fall into the “personal injury case” category. However, this is not the case.

Worker’s compensation cases are not based on fault, so they can’t be considered personal injury situations. In North Carolina, if you are injured while working for an employer, you must file a lawsuit with the N.C. Industrial Commission (not against your employer).


Need some help developing your personal injury case or filing a claim? Give the Mulligan Attorneys team a call at 910-763-1100 or send us a message! Our attorneys are happy to walk you through the process.

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