Did the defendant owe a legal duty to the plaintiff?
For negligence to be considered in a claim, the person accused must first be confirmed to have owed the injured person what is called a ‘legal duty of care’. This means that the relationship between the plaintiff and defendant called for the defendant to do whatever they could to ensure a safe environment for the defendant. For instance, someone operating a motor vehicle on a public road owes other drivers a certain level of due care. Or a homeowner inviting guests over does so under the assumption that they are able to provide those guests with reasonably safe surroundings.
- Did the defendant breach that legal duty by acting or failing to act in a certain way?
Once the defendant was determined to have owed the plaintiff that legal duty, it must be decided whether or not they breached this duty by doing or not doing something that a “reasonably prudent person
” would or would not do under those circumstances. This term is a legal standard held out as a measurement, and a defendant will likely be found negligent if he or she did not act as an average person would, and that action or inaction lead to an injury. For example, if the driver of a motor vehicle chose to drive while under the influence, or a host failed to warn guests of a broken porch step. A reasonably prudent person would have known better, and acted differently.
- Was it the defendant’s actions or inaction that caused the plaintiff’s injury?
Next, causation must be proven, linking the defendant’s actions or inactions directly to the injuries of the plaintiff. Was it because
of alcohol impairment that the defendant crashed into another car? Did the guest step on the broken stair and become injured as a result?
Additionally, the court must decide if the defendant could have reasonably foreseen that his or her actions might cause an injury. If it is determined that the incident of the injury was unforeseeable, then the defendant will not be found liable. Maybe the host had no idea about the broken stair, and it had been broken by a third party entering the house just ahead of the plaintiff. These details will matter as causation is decided.
- To what extent was the plaintiff harmed or injured as a result of the defendant’s actions?
This final step is usually related to the amount of monetary compensation, and is calculated based on the time and expenses required for caring for the medical care and/or property damage. If a drunk driver caused damage to both vehicle and person, that will be factored in. This may also be dependent on the extent which the court finds the plaintiff themselves partly to blame for the injuries, under the circumstances that they could have acted differently to avoid the accident.
The issue of negligence will be an extensively debated and thoroughly considered one. If you believe negligence was to blame for your injury, assemble your evidence and discuss the details with an experienced personal injury lawyer.
Ready to talk? Contact the Simon Law Group today to schedule a meeting with a skilled personal injury lawyer who can answer your questions about negligence and more.