What is Negligence and How Do You Prove It in Personal Injury Cases
Every type of personal injury case is unique. Truck accidents can be considerably more complex than standard car accidents and dog bites are very different from slip and fall cases. But regardless of which type of accident caused an injury, one thing all personal injury cases have in common is the concept of negligence.
Sometimes, accidents are genuinely accidents. However, many types of accidents that cause injuries are preventable. That’s where the concept of negligence comes in. Negligence refers to careless actions that a reasonable person should know to be dangerous. One example of this could be a property manager not bothering to replace a light in a stairwell that they know is burned out, leading to someone falling down and getting hurt. Another example would be a driver who causes a car crash by looking at their phone when they should have been looking at the road.
Even if actions seem like they are a clear case of negligence, it’s important to remember that there are four different elements of negligence that are involved:
Duty of Care
In cases involving negligence, the negligent party needs to have had a responsibility to show care to others. While there aren’t any specific legal guidelines about what must be done to meet a particular standard of care, it does require that very basic, reasonable measures be taken. All drivers, for instance, have a responsibility to follow the rules of the road to help protect others on the road.
Breach of Duty
If a person has a duty of care to someone, the Breach of Duty element of negligence asks whether or not that person acted in a way that reasonably lived up to that responsibility. For example, if a customer falls on spilled water in a store, a court might find that the store had breached their duty of care if they didn’t clean the spill up in a timely manner or even place “Wet Floor” signs near the spill.
In successful personal injury lawsuits involving negligence, the act of negligence needs to have directly caused an injury. In some cases, even if a person is negligent, they might try to argue that their negligence did not actually cause your injury. One example of this would be if a person falls on some stairs in an office building because of a loose handrail, the building owner/manager might try to claim that even if the handrail was loose, they think it’s more likely that you tripped on your own shoes.
Lastly, you need to have suffered specific damages as a result of the accident. This can include things like medical expenses related to an injury and/or property damage.
Proving negligence in an injury case isn’t always easy. No matter what type of accident caused your injury, one of the best things you can do is get in touch with a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible. It’s only natural to have a lot of questions after an accident and a lawyer will be able to help answer them and work with you to understand your legal options. At Goodwin & Scieszka, we’ve helped many Michigan accident victims who have been in your position. Let us help you, too. Contact us today to get started.