What Is Negligence in a Personal Injury Case?

In a personal injury case, negligence is another term for carelessness. A negligent person takes some action or fails to act in a manner that differs from the way a reasonably prudent person would behave under the circumstances, causing injury to someone else. The concept of negligence figures heavily in personal injury lawsuits because the law holds a negligent party responsible for damages caused by his or her behavior. Negligence opens the door for the court to award monetary compensation to the victim for their harms and losses.

How Do You Prove Negligence?

To prove negligence in a personal injury case, you must establish a few basic facts to either an insurance company or a jury.

  • First of all, you must show that the negligent person owed a duty of care to you and then violated it. A legal duty of care means that, either by relationship or through an expectation of reasonable care, the defendant was legally responsible to the victim. For example, a parent has a legal duty to care for his or her child. A doctor must provide reasonable care to a patient. A breach of duty means that by taking some action or failing to do so, the defendant caused injury to the plaintiff.
  • Second, you must show that the breach of duty caused your damages, both economic and non-economic. Economic losses may include medical expenses and lost wages, while non-economic damages may include pain, suffering, and trauma. It is not enough to demonstrate negligence if the negligence had no part in your losses. The law also considers whether the defendant could have possibly known that his or her actions would harm the victim.
  • Finally, you must show how you arrived at a dollar value for your damages by demonstrating the expenses you incurred. While economic losses can be shown with medical bills, pay stubs, and similar documentation, non-economic damages are harder to define. Jurisdictions have varying formulas to determine non-economic losses. 

Where Can I Get Help?

For help with a personal injury case involving negligence, contact a knowledgeable and experienced personal injury attorney, like from HKV Law who understands the processes and procedures. While the basic premise of negligence is the same, local procedures and practices vary. A lawyer who routinely handles these cases can give you a better chance of receiving the compensation you are due for your injuries.