Understanding the Legal Principle of Negligence
If you’ve been injured because of the wrongful act of another person, you have a right to pursue damages from that person. You can seek compensation for an intentional, willful or reckless act, but most often, your lawsuit will be based on the legal concept of “negligence.”
What Is Negligence?
To successfully prove a case for negligence, you must demonstrate three things:
- That the defendant (person alleged to have acted carelessly) failed to use the standard of care expected from a reasonable person. It may also be said that the defendant “breached” the duty of care.
- That the breach of duty “caused” an accident
- That, as a result of the accident, you have suffered “actual” loss
The Standard of Care
Under the common law principles of negligence, all persons in society are expected to exercise reasonable care in all actions in their daily lives. That includes driving a motor vehicle, maintaining property, and designing and manufacturing goods, among other activities.
There’s no absolute duty to prevent harm to others. A person is only required to use the standard of care a reasonable person would employ. The law does not specifically define what constitutes “reasonable.” That is typically determined by the jury on a case-by-case basis. Juries are required, though, to give weight to prior decisions, so there is a significant level of consistency in their decisions.
To establish that a breach of duty “caused” an accident, you must show two different types of cause: actual cause and proximate cause. Actual cause is relatively straightforward, typically answered by asking the question “would the accident have occurred “but for” the breach of duty?” Proximate cause, however, looks at whether or not the accident was “reasonably foreseeable” as a consequence of the breach of duty. For example, if a highly unusual and unanticipated confluence of circumstances result in an injury, the person whose actions triggered the event may not be liable if a jury determines that the result was not a reasonably expected consequence of the breach.
Even though there’s evidence of a breach of duty and sufficient cause, if you haven’t suffered any loss, you cannot recover damages. For example, if your losses are covered by insurance, you cannot get compensation for them (though your insurance company may).
Contact the Proven Auto Accident Injury Lawyers at the Rafi Law Group
At our office, every new client is entitled to a free initial consultation. To arrange a meeting, contact us online or call the Rafi Law Group at 214-224-0064. Our phones are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Home and hospital visits can be set up by request.
We take all motor vehicle accident claims on a contingent fee basis. You won’t incur legal fees unless we get compensation for your losses. We will also advance all expenses. Se habla Espanol.