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While we may use the term “accident” casually in everyday life to refer to a variety of things, in personal injury law, it has a very specific meaning. If you are thinking of seeking compensation for an accident you were in, it is recommended for you to first familiarize yourself with the legal definition of the term. In this article, we will define “accident” and explain how it is used in the context of the law.

Key Takeaways

  • An accident is an unexpected event that occurs without intent
  • Accidents may be caused by carelessness, ignorance, and/or lack of awareness
  • When it results in an injury, the victim of an accident may be entitled to compensation via a personal injury claim
  • Types of accidents include motor vehicle accidents, workplace accidents, and premises liabilities, among others
  • When making a personal injury claim, plaintiffs must provide evidence supporting their claim to damages

What Is an Accident?

In law, an accident is an unexpected and usually sudden event that occurs without intent. However, it can sometimes be caused by carelessness, ignorance, or lack of awareness. When an accident results in an injury, the affected individual may be entitled to compensation under the law and/or an insurance policy. Injury can refer to a variety of things including physical pain, emotional pain and suffering, damage to one’s reputation, or property damage. 

By their nature, insurance policies only cover accidents and not injuries that were caused intentionally. For example, life insurance policies do not generally compensate for suicide and auto insurance policies do not usually compensate for damages sustained while drag racing.  

Examples of Accidents

Types of things that may be legally considered accidents for which a person can be potentially eligible for compensation include:

  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Medical malpractice, including things like wrong diagnoses, improper treatments, surgical errors, and medication and pharmacy mistakes
  • Wrongful death 
  • Workplace accidents
  • Premises liabilities, or accidents that occur on somebody’s land such as falling down a staircase, slipping on a wet spot, being bitten by a dog, and so on

Personal Injury Claims for Accidents

If you or a loved one were hurt in an accident, you may be eligible to make a personal injury claim. Civil law seeks to compensate victims of wrongful acts, even if they were unintentional. In order to have a case for a personal injury claim, the victim (as the plaintiff) will be required to provide evidence to support their claim that they are entitled to a certain sum of money as damages. 

In a personal injury case, it is common for the types of damages sought to include things like:

  • Loss of earning capacity
  • Pain and suffering
  • Medical expenses

If you plan to seek compensation by making a personal injury claim, you should work with an experienced lawyer who will be able to help you navigate the legal process as well as advocate for you to receive the fairest compensation.

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