Personal injury liability arises when the law holds one party financially responsible for a personal injury suffered by another.

This means that the liable party must pay compensation to the injured party. Usually, the liable party caused the injury through some kind of culpable misconduct.

However, this is not always the case.

Negligence Liability

Negligence Liability

Negligence liability arises when the defendant causes an injury by behaving carelessly.

Improperly loading a cargo truck, for example, might trigger negligence liability if it causes the cargo to spill onto the road, thereby causing an injury accident. 

You must prove four elements to establish negligence liability:

  • The defendant owed you a duty of care. This duty is present under almost every circumstance.
  • The defendant failed to meet their duty of care. Duty of care plus breach of duty equals negligence, but not yet liability.
  • Damages. This means you suffered a physical injury, and perhaps other losses such as lost work time or pain and suffering.  
  • Causation. The defendant’s negligence must have actually caused the damages you suffered.

You must prove all of these elements on a “preponderance of the evidence” (51% likelihood) basis.

Intentional Torts

An intentional tort is a harmful or offensive act that someone intentionally inflicts upon you. Following are a few of many examples.


Battery occurs when someone makes offensive physical contact with you. It can produce an injury, but it doesn’t have to. Touching you in a sexual manner without your consent, for example, constitutes sexual battery. Technically, battery includes even non-violent, non-sexual physical contact, as long as it is offensive and non-consensual.  

False Imprisonment

False imprisonment can refer to the actions of a law enforcement officer. It doesn’t have to, however. In fact, in most cases this offense doesn’t involve a law enforcement officer. Suppose, for example, that someone locks you in a room and won’t let you out. This also constitutes false imprisonment.

Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress

Although this term is fairly self-explanatory, an example might be helpful. Telephoning someone, pretending to be a coroner, falsely telling them that their loved one was killed in a car accident, and asking them to come to the morgue to identify the body is the kind of malicious prank that would constitute intentional infliction of emotional distress if the victim believes you. If the victim doesn’t believe you, the victim suffers no emotional distress. 

Strict Liability

Strict liability arises when a defendant bears liability even though the victim has not proved that the victim did anything wrong. This type of liability arises only under certain circumstances, such as defective products and dog bites

Product Liability 

A product liability claim arises when you suffer an injury caused by a defective consumer product. This might mean that a malfunctioning auto part causes a car accident, for example, or a defective pharmaceutical makes you sick. 

You need to prove, among other things, that the product was defective and unreasonably dangerous. If you can prove this much, you don’t need to prove any specific misconduct on the part of the defendant. You can sue anyone from the manufacturer to the retailer.

Dog Bites

A dog owner bears liability for an attack committed by their dog. Some states apply a “one bite rule” that allows an owner to escape liability if the dog had neer acted aggressively before. In Arizona, however, a dog owner is strictly liable for the aggressive actions of their dog, regardless of its past behavior.

Vicarious Liability

Vicarious liability arises when one party bears liability for the misconduct of another party. Typically, both parties are liable, but one party has a lot more money than the other.

Respondeat Superior

“Respondeat superior” is a fancy Latin term that literally means “Let the master answer.” In actual practice, it typically refers to the situation where an injured party sues an employer for the wrongful act of their employee. This is especially likely when the employee earns minimum wage and therefore cannot afford to pay a personal injury claim. The employee must have been acting within the scope of their employment duties at the time of the accident.  

Parent/Child Liability

Most states impose liability on the parents of a minor child (under 18 years old) for the child’s willful misconduct that causes injury or property damage. However, the facts of the case and the law of the particular jurisdiction will dictate whether this type of liability attaches.

Comparative Negligence

The system of pure comparative negligence, which many states follow, reduces a defendant’s liability by the degree to which the accident was partly the victim’s fault. If the defendant was 70% at fault and the victim was 30% at fault, for example, the victim can recover 70% of their damages. 

In states that follow modified comparative negligence instead, victims are barred from recovering damages if they are either at least 50% or 51% to blame. And in a select few states, victims are barred from recovering any compensation at all if they are even 1% responsible. 

An Experienced Personal Injury Attorney Can Help

If you have a strong claim, most Phoenix Personal Injury Attorneys are very accessible and offer free consultations. Oftentimes personal injury lawyers work on a contingency fee arrangement. That means their legal fees equal a pre-agreed percentage of the amount you recover, in court or through settlement. If you don’t receive compensation, your attorney’s fees are $0.00. 

If you would like more information, please contact the lawyers at Curiel & Runion Car Accident and Personal Injury Lawyers to schedule a free consultation, you can reach us at (602) 595-5559.