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Record $70 Million Fine for Honda Amid Death, Injury Complaints

January 8, 2015 - Japanese automaker Honda has been fined $70 million by the Obama Administration (the largest civil penalty ever levied against an automaker) for not reporting deaths and injuries related to its vehicles to regulators. (MORE)

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Personal injury occurs when a person is harmed through the actions of another. If you have suffered a personal injury, a lawyer can help you determine what your case is worth and bring a legal action against the person who harmed you. Your personal injury attorney will evaluate your case, make sure that you avoid exceeding the time limit to file a claim, and help you maximize the compensation you receive for your injuries.

State and federal laws in the United States are constantly changing. The following guide is intended solely for informational purposes and should not take the place of the advice of a lawyer. Only a qualified attorney can assess the merits of your case completely and provide an effective plan for counsel. For more information, contact a personal injury attorney from our network of experienced lawyers.

Important Things to Know After You Are Injured

Even as a victim of personal injury, there are actions you can take to help your case immediately following your accident. To do this, you should:

  • Take care of your injuries immediately.
  • Contact an attorney
  • Document all injuries and any damage to property (including getting copies of accident reports, taking pictures, keeping receipts and invoices, keeping notes of new symptoms, documenting time off from work, etc.).
  • Get information from witnesses (phone numbers, addresses, statements, etc.).
  • Open a claim with the other person's insurance company.

After a personal injury, certain actions can make it impossible for you to bring a claim against the person who injured you. To avoid this, speak with a lawyer immediately and:

  • Do not give any statements to anyone other than the police before speaking with your lawyer.
  • Do not sign any releases of liability or potential claims before speaking with your lawyer.

Remedies You May Receive

In a personal injury case, you may receive compensation for:

  • Reimbursement for medical treatment and lost wages
  • Reimbursement for damage to or loss of use of property that occurred as a result of the injury
  • Loss of consortium (loss of services of your spouse: income, companionship, child care, etc.)
  • Emotional distress and/or pain and suffering
  • Injury to reputation
  • Punitive damages (money given as punishment)

Types of Personal Injury Claims


A negligence claim exists when a person is injured because another person did not use the required standard of care (typically defined as that of a reasonable person) in his or her behavior. Reasonable care is that which an ordinary person would use; an objective standard. Negligence is the most common type of personal injury claim and includes car accidents, incidents where someone slips and falls, the release of toxic chemicals into the environment (or failure to warn about such a release), etc.

A claim for negligence is limited to the injuries that were foreseeable, and the injuries must be a result of the negligent actions. However, there are a few legal rules that can alter the results of a negligence claim. For example, if the injured person happens to already be in a delicate condition and the injuries resulting from the negligence are greater than they would have been with a normal person, the negligent person is still liable for all resulting injuries. Also, in certain situations you can infer negligence without actually showing that the person did not use reasonable care. Only an attorney can fully assess your case and determine if negligence applies.

Examples of negligence:

Car accidents; slip and fall situations; toxic chemicals leaking into the environment; poorly maintained roller coaster.

Assault or Battery (Intentional Torts)

Assault and battery are two types of actions that a person can take against another to deliberately cause injury. In the legal world, they are commonly called intentional torts because the person must be acting deliberately and intentionally to make the action happen. However, the action doesn't have to actually cause injury. For example, intentionally poking another person may not cause injury but it would still be battery (see below for definition).

Unlike intentional torts which cause damage to property, assault and battery cause injury to a person. Assault is when a person causes another to anticipate immediate harmful or offensive touching and battery is when harmful or offensive touching actually occurs. There are many types of defenses a person can use against an intentional tort. An attorney can assess your legal needs and determine which approach is most appropriate.

Examples of assault and battery:

Attack with a weapon; threatening messages.


Defamation occurs when a person speaks or writes badly about another person. The statement (spoken or written) must be about a specific person or group, reasonably believable, and made to a third party. It must also cause harm to the person it is about. In a defamation case, the negative comments typically have to do with a person's reputation. There are many variations in defamation depending on who the speaker is, what the subject of the statement is, and who it is about. State laws can vary widely; only an attorney can fully assess your legal needs and prepare your defamation case.

Examples of defamation:

Spreading a rumor of infidelity; accusations of plagiarism.

Strict Liability

Strict liability typically exists when a person engages in an abnormally dangerous activity and another person is harmed, or when damage is caused by animals. (See below for explanation of strict products liability.) In both of these situations, the person responsible is liable for any injuries or damage that occurs, regardless of actual fault, so long as certain conditions are met. Strict liability does not apply in all situations; only an attorney can fully assess your case and determine if strict liability applies.

Examples of strict liability:

Attack by a wild animal kept as a pet; injury by a nuclear waste transporter.

Products Liability

Products liability is a type of legal claim that a person can bring if he or she has been injured by some sort of manufactured product. This type of claim covers many types of problems, including car tire blow-outs, medicines that cause severe side effects, and ladders that break; in other words, almost any product that fails and causes harm. Almost all problems with a product arise from defects in the design, defects in the manufacturing, or unclear or defective warnings.

Products liability cases use one of three legal theories: negligence, strict liability, or breach of warranty. Those involving theories of negligence and strict liability are the same as above; in some claims you will need to prove carelessness (negligence) in creating or marketing the product but in other claims it will be enough to show that the product was defective or unreasonably dangerous, even if there was no carelessness involved. A claim under breach of warranty is a contract claim and exists if the product is different than it was reasonably expected to be by the consumer. The product could be more dangerous, or simply not work as expected.

Typically for any of these claims to succeed, the product must have been used in a reasonably predictable manner and by a person the manufacturer would have expected to use it. Different states use different definitions of who is "reasonably expected" to use the product and who is liable for the damage caused. A qualified attorney can fully assess your legal needs and determine if you have a case.

Examples of product liability:

Death caused by a prescription drug; pool pump that electrocutes a swimmer.

Wrongful Death

Wrongful death is a legal claim brought by the close family members of someone who has died because of some unlawful activity (intentional tort, negligence, etc.). Rules for wrongful death vary by state. Only an attorney can fully assess your legal needs and determine if you have a case for wrongful death.

Examples of wrongful death:

Death of a spouse in a car accident caused by a negligent driver; death of a child in a fire caused by an exploding lamp.