Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Breaking Down What Constitutes Negligence


April 30, 2010  

Generally speaking, a negligent action is carelessness that brings about personal injury to someone else. It might be an activity, like carelessly knocking a rock off a rooftop, or a failure to behave, like a landlord who doesn’t fix a broken or cracked step. A negligent action typically creates the justification for personal injury litigation.

To file a legal claim for negligent conduct, the injury victim (the individual filing the lawsuit) will need to present four points: That the negligent party (the person or entity being sued) owed the injured party a duty of due care; that the accused failed to exercise 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 plaintiff suffered damages as a result.

Duty of reasonable care: The injury victim needs to prove that the negligent party had a duty of reasonable care toward the injury victim. An individual has a duty to avoid causing harm to another if a reasonable man or woman in the same scenario could foresee that an behavior (or failure to behave) could result in an injury. Some instances are very clear. We all know that an individual could be hurt if we run a red light, so we have a duty of due care to follow traffic regulations and signals. Other scenarios are more complex. 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 person take in that circumstance? In each scenario, the issues concerning the personal injury play a major role in figuring out whether or not a negligent party had a duty of reasonable care towards the injury victim.

Breach of Duty: The plaintiff has to prove that the defendants failed to carry out their duty of reasonable care. For example, an ordinary individual could foresee that a truck full of dynamite may ignite, so someone who parks such a vehicle in a crowded parking lot has breached the duty of due care to the other men and women nearby. If the vehicle blows up, the driver could be guilty of negligent conduct. An individual might possibly also foresee that a car that isn’t repaired properly could malfunction, so if the brakes on a poorly repaired car fail and the car hits a kid, the owner of the car might have breached the duty of due care to that child. Each and every car owner has a duty to maintain the car in a safe and sound condition. On the other hand, if the owner routinely 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 may be to blame.

Lead to: The injury victim has to demonstrate that the negligent persons breach of duty triggered the harm for which the injury victim is suing. Many times causation is straightforward. If you run a red light and hit a person, you plainly caused the harm. If the pedestrian’s elderly mother has a heart attack and dies when she hears of her daughter’s injury, did you lead to that injury? Most likely not, but those are the kinds of problems that have to be resolved in a negligence claim. There can also be questions about what injuries was caused by an accident. Individuals generally have more than one accident in their lives, so if an individual has had two prior back injuries, exactly what injury to the back was caused by the most recent fall down a flight of stairs?

Damages: Damages in a negligence lawsuit try to put the plaintiff in the same position he or she would be in if the accident hadn’t occurred. A injured party will need to demonstrate the monetary value of his or her injuries. For example, if an individual is disabled and can no longer work, a calculation of damages would consider the work of the plaintiff and the amount he or she would have earned during the time left in a normal working career. Damages would also include medical costs and estimated costs for medical treatment, special accommodations, and assisted living.

In some scenarios negligent parties are at fault for negligent conduct as of the operation of law, and not because they directly caused a personal injury. As an example, since an employer is held to blame for injuries brought on by employees during work, UPS may be liable if a UPS driver has an accident while making deliveries. A hospital might be held liable for injury caused by only one nurse. Injured parties typically make claims against several negligent parties to make sure there will be enough assets (money) to pay a judgment.

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