What Qualifies as a Personal Injury Case?

The term “personal injury” is common, but what specifically does it mean? According to the Cornell Law School Legal Information Institute, personal injury includes every variety of injuries to a person’s body, emotions, or reputation.

Types of Personal Injury

The most obvious form of personal injury cases arises from harm done to your body. For example, physical injuries caused by car accidents, workplace accidents, product defects, and medical malpractice all qualify as “personal injuries.”

A lawsuit could also follow non-physical harm done to you. The intentional infliction of emotional distress qualifies as a personal injury. So do defamation, false arrest, malicious prosecution, and the invasion of privacy.

Your reputation is also part of you. If someone knowingly lies about you and it harms your reputation, you may have grounds to sue. For example, if an athlete is wrongly accused of taking performance-enhancing drugs, the reputational damage might last even after the athlete has proved the accusation false.

Grounds for a PI case

There are three grounds under which personal injury cases can be brought.

  1. Intentional wrongs, which means that the defendant intentionally committed an act (like assault or intentionally inflicting emotional stress) that caused you harm.
  2. Strict liability applies in cases where the defendant can be held responsible, even when there was no bad intent or criminal activity. An example is a manufacturer of a product that has a defect, in which case the manufacturer is responsible for the harm it causes.
  3. Negligence is the most common ground for bringing personal injury cases. A defendant is negligent if their careless actions result in someone else getting hurt or their property being damaged.

Burdens of Proof

In order to succeed in a personal injury lawsuit, you’ll need to show that the defendant caused your injuries. The grounds of the case will dictate what you need to show.

For personal injury cases brought on the grounds of negligence, you’ll need to show:

  • That the defendant had a duty
  • That the defendant breached that duty
  • That the defendant’s negligence was the cause of your injury
  • That the injury resulted in harm to you

For cases brought under strict liability, you only need to show that the defendant caused your injury and that it resulted in harm.

For cases that involve intentional wrongs, you’ll need to prove that the defendant intended to cause harm when they committed the acts that injured you.


Damages are meant to compensate plaintiffs in PI cases for the harm that was done to them. Damages (and their value) can stem from anything. Some common examples include:

  • Lost wages
  • Medical expenses
  • Pain and suffering
  • Mental and emotional distress
  • Household expenses

The Personal Injury Case Checklist

The first step in filing PI cases is consulting with an attorney. The consultation will help you to understand how the case will proceed and what to expect along the way. In order to help the attorney understand your situation, be sure to articulate:

  • What specific injuries you’ve sustained?
  • How you were injured?
  • The defendant’s role in your injury?
  • Why they’re to blame?
  • What you’ve lost as a result of the injury?

To begin the process of filing a personal injury lawsuit, contact Napoli Shkolnik for a free consultation by clicking here.