Personal Injury Law – What Needs to Happen
Generally, a negligent action is a carelessness that leads to personal injury to another individual. It can be a behavior, like carelessly knocking a rock off a rooftop, or a failure to act, like a landlord who doesn’t fix a worn-out stair. A negligent action typically provides the grounds for injuries cases.
To file a legal suit for negligence, the injury victim (the individual filing the legal action) has to prove four points: That the negligent party (the person or entity being sued) owed the plaintiff a duty of due care; that the defendant failed to use due care towards the injured party (i.e. breached the duty); that the defendant’s breach of duty caused the plaintiff’s harm; and that the injured party suffered damages as an end result.
Duty of care: The injury victim needs to demonstrate that the accused had a duty of reasonable care toward the injured party. An individual has a duty to avoid causing injury to another if a reasonable individual in the same scenario could foresee that behavior (or failure to act) might lead to harm. Some scenarios are very clear. We all know that somebody could be injured if we run a stoplight, so we have a duty of reasonable care to follow traffic laws and signals. Other cases are more tricky. If a homeowner has a private swimming pool in a fenced yard, does he have a duty to prevent a neighbor child from climbing the fence and accidentally drowning in the pool? How much care would a reasonable man or woman take in that circumstance? In each case, the issues concerning the injury play a significant role in determining whether or not a defendant had a duty of reasonable care towards the injury victim.
Breach of Duty: The plaintiff has to demonstrate that the negligent parties failed to carry out their duty of care. For example, an ordinary individual could foresee that a van full of explosives could ignite, so a person who parks such a vehicle in a populated parking lot has breached the duty of due care to the other people nearby. If the vehicle blows up, the driver may be guilty of negligence. A person may also foresee that a car that isn’t repaired adequately could malfunction, so if the brakes on a poorly maintained car fail and the car hits a young child, the owner of the car might have breached the duty of care to that child. Every car owner has a duty to maintain the car in a safe condition. Alternatively, if the owner regularly maintains and repairs the car and the brakes failed because the brakes were faulty or the mechanic made a mistake, the owner did not breach a duty of reasonable care, though the brake manufacturer or the mechanic might be to blame.
Cause: The injured party needs to demonstrate that the negligent person breach of duty triggered the injury for which the plaintiff is suing. Sometimes causation is clear. If you run a red light and hit a person, you obviously caused the injuries. If the pedestrian’s elderly mother has a heart attack and passes away when she hears of her daughter’s injury, did you result in that injury? Not likely, but those are the kinds of difficulties that have to be solved in a negligence lawsuit. There could also be issues about what injury was caused by an accident. People today typically have more than one accident in their lives, so if a person has had two prior back injuries, precisely what injury to the back was caused by the most recent fall down a flight of stairs?
Damages: Damages in a negligence claim try to put the injury victim in the same situation he or she would be in if the accident hadn’t occurred. A plaintiff has to prove the monetary value of his or her injuries. For example, if somebody is disabled and can no longer work, a calculation of damages would consider the profession of the injury victim and the amount he or she would have earned during the time left in a normal working career. Damages would also include medical expenses and estimated costs for medical care, special accommodations, and assisted living.
In some situations, negligent parties are at fault for negligence because of the operation of law, and not because they specifically caused an accident. As an example, since an employer is held to blame for injuries attributable to employees during work, UPS may be liable if a UPS driver has an accident while making deliveries. A hospital may be held accountable for injury caused by only one nurse. Injured parties often make claims against several defendants to make sure there will be enough assets (money) to pay a judgment.
If you think you have been the victim of negligence, contact us for a free consultation,
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