Negligence is a big word you often hear if someone gets hurt and needs money for their injuries. However, the daily use of the term negligence may differ from the legal standard applied in personal injury cases.
Think about when someone might forget to turn off the stove, cut their fingers while carelessly slicing onions, or lose their wallet all too often. In day-to-day life, this just means they’re not being very careful or made a mistake. But in court, it can mean more than that.
Proving negligence requires meeting specific elements. It is important to understand negligence as your personal injury case likely depends on it.
Negligence in Action
When it comes to the law, negligence has a special meaning. It means a person didn’t uphold their duty to act with a certain level of care. As a result of that negligent person’s failure, another person was injured.
If someone is negligent, they acted in a way that most people know could result in others getting hurt. For instance, imagine you’re at a store with a spill on the floor. If the store owner doesn’t clean it up or put up a sign to warn you, and you fall and get hurt, the owner is negligent. They should have done something to prevent that from happening because store owners have a duty to customers to keep shops safe.
Who Is the ‘Reasonable Person’?
Courts use the “ reasonable person” standard to decide if someone was negligent. Imagine a person who’s always careful and smart about what they do. This ‘reasonable person’ is who the courts think about when they’re trying to decide if a person was negligent. They ask, “Would a reasonable person in this situation have done the same thing?”
Duty of Care
Duty of care means we all have to be careful not to hurt others around us. When driving a car, we must follow rules to keep everyone safe. If someone doesn’t do this and another person gets injured, they might have to pay for the harm they caused.
Connecting Negligence to an Injury
You have to connect the dots between what they did (or didn’t do) and your injury to show that someone’s negligence is why you got hurt. This is like following a trail that leads directly to your accident. Suppose you slip in a store because they didn’t put up a “Wet Floor” sign. You would then have to prove that you fell and got hurt because they didn’t put up a sign or clean the spill.
When you get hurt and it’s someone else’s fault, you might need money to help with different things. It’s not just about the doctor’s bills. You might also need money because you can’t work and earn like before. You may also need compensation if you’ve been through a lot of pain and suffering. Sometimes, you might need treatment for a long time, and that costs money too. Knowing what you can ask for helps you get enough help to recover fully.
Building a Case for Negligence
Evidence is key in personal injury cases caused by the negligence of another. Everything from photos of where you got hurt, names of people who saw it, to doctor reports and more. The better your proof of negligence, the stronger your case, and the better your chance to win.
To win a case involving negligence, you need to establish these four elements:
- Duty of Care: The person who’s being blamed must have had a responsibility to be careful not to cause you harm.
- Breach of Duty: They didn’t do what they were supposed to.
- Causation: Their action (or lack of action) is the reason for your injury.
- Damages: You got hurt or had some sort of loss because of what happened.
If you’re the one hurt and bring the lawsuit, you and your lawyer must prove negligence. You have to show all four elements listed above. If even one element is not proven, you have not established negligence. Failing to prove that the other party was negligent can preclude you from recovering damages.
Common Ways People Defend Against Negligence Claims
In negligence cases, defenses can really impact your claim.
The following are defenses that you might hear from the other side:
- Assumption of Risk: You knew it was risky but went ahead anyway.
- Modified Comparative Fault: If you’re less than 50% at fault in Georgia, you can recover compensation. However, it’ll be reduced based on how much the accident was your fault.
- Lack of causation: You were harmed, but the defendant was not the cause of your injuries.
Understanding negligence is super important if you’re thinking about asking for money for your injuries. Knowing how to respond to these common defenses is key to making sure you get the compensation you deserve. It’s more than just saying someone was not careful. You have to show the exact actions that caused your injuries and that you had an actual loss because of it.
Contact an Experienced Columbus Personal Injury Lawyer
Negligence cases in Columbus, Georgia can be tricky. A good lawyer knows the law like the back of their hand and can help you through every step. Mark Casto Personal Injury Law Firm will work to find proof of negligence, talk to the right experts, and stand up for you in court.