Have you heard of the word “negligence?” You may have heard it in passing. You may have an idea of what it means. You may have a sense that it has additional meaning in the legal context and you would be right. Negligence plays a central role in personal injury law, in particular. In fact, most personal injury cases hinge on who is “at fault” or liable for causing an accident. Usually, the at-fault party is held responsible because his or her negligence action or inaction led to the injury of someone else. So, what does “negligence” mean? Let us talk more about that here.
What Is Negligence?
While not all personal injury actions are based on the legal theory of negligence, most are. If you have suffered an injury in an accident caused by the negligence of another, then you may be able to seek compensation from this individual for the harm you suffered as a result of his or her negligent action or inaction. In its most basic sense, negligence means that someone acted in a way they should not have and someone suffered as a result.
For a more thorough explanation of negligence, it should be broken down into elements. The elements of negligence is that which needs to be proven in order to hold a party responsible for the negligence. For starters, you must establish duty. Duty, in the legal sense, refers to a legal obligation an individual or entity owes to someone else to act with a certain standard of care. The standard of care means that a person must act in a way that takes reasonable measures to prevent foreseeable harm from coming to others to which duty is owed. This duty can be established by the situation. For instance, all drivers have a duty to take reasonable care when operating a vehicle in order to prevent harm to others on or near the road. The duty can also be established by relationship. For instance, a doctor owes a patient a duty to provide reasonable care.
The second element of negligence is “breach.” There must have been a breach of the legal duty. This means that the person that owed a duty to another violated the duty owed. In other words, he or she did something he or she was not supposed to do or failed to do something that he or she was supposed to do because of the duty owed.
The third element is causation. Careless acts in and of themselves do not constitute negligence in the legal sense. The negligent act must have been the actual cause of the harm suffered by another. Causation is the bridge between the breach of a duty and the resulting injury.
Lastly, in order to substantiate a claim under the legal theory of negligence, the victim of the negligence must have sustained actual damages. Actual harm must have been caused by the breach of the duty. This usually means that the negligent act resulted in injury to a person and the claim would seek compensation for things like medical expenses, pain and suffering, and more.
Personal Injury Attorneys
Finding the legalese overwhelming when you have already been through so much? If you have been injured in an accident, let the SoCal Injury Lawyers, handle the legal side of things while you focus on your health and recovery. Contact us today.