People talking about types of negligence in personal injury cases

Most personal injury lawsuits rely on the legal concepts of negligence, the duty of care, and breach of duty to establish fault. For example, a doctor is duty-bound to provide care and treatment to a level that a competent medical professional is expected to perform. If the doctor gives the wrong type of drugs or performs unnecessary and potentially harmful medical procedures, then that can be considered as a serious breach of duty. The doctor will be considered as negligent and will be treated as the party at fault if the patient pursues a personal injury case against them.

According to the Cornell Law School dictionary, negligence usually consists of actions (like for example, a doctor administering wrong treatment to a patient), but also omissions when there is a duty to act (eg. a business who willfully ignores hazards on their property, thus endangering customers and workers alike). The first step in proving that a person or a legal entity is negligent is to establish that they have a duty of care in the situation that resulted in an injury. The plaintiff should be able to show how the defendant had failed to meet that duty- i.e. how they “breached” their duty of care that was expected of them. Once the breach has been established and proven in court, then the case can then move on into showing the extent of the injury that the breach of duty has caused the plaintiff.

There are other types of negligence that a lawyer can try to prove against an offending party at court:

Contributory Negligence

As the name suggests, contributory negligence places some portion of the fault with the plaintiff. In essence, the plaintiff themselves have contributed to their own injuries. For example, someone rear-ended a car, thus causing the driver to suffer from several broken bones and various bruises. However, since the driver wasn’t wearing his seatbelt (something which he is legally obligated to do), he is partially liable for his own injuries.

It’s important to note that this type of negligence doesn’t mean that the defendant is absolved of all fault. This just means that because the plaintiff has partial responsibility for the accident, and his compensation will be diminished in light of it.

Comparative Negligence

Comparative negligence is a defense that is commonly used when settling out of court. In the car accident case example mentioned above, the plaintiff’s settlement will be reduced according to the degree of their fault in the accident. If the plaintiff is driving under the influence, and the judge decreed that they are at least 50% responsible for their own injuries, then the maximum amount of settlement that a car accident attorney can argue for will be decreased by at least fifty percent too.

Vicarious Liability

The concept of vicarious liability is commonly seen in dog bite lawsuits. This term is applied to circumstances wherein a defendant is held liable for the actions of another person or of a pet. For example, a dog owner might have neglected to inform guests that their dog isn’t friendly and will bite. He or she will then be considered as vicariously liable for any injuries and bites that that dog will cause.

This is also applicable in some cases wherein minors are involved. Young children and minors are considered by the law to be incapable of committing negligence, and should they cause injuries, their parents and legal guardians will be held responsible. Similarly, vicarious liability also covers employers as well. If an employer provides inadequate training for an employee, then that employee has increased chances of making mistakes and causing harm on the job (especially for work environments like construction sites and factories). Even if the employer didn’t commit the act of negligence themselves, they might still be partially responsible for their employees’ actions and should be held liable.

Gross Negligence

Among the types of negligence mentioned, gross negligence is the most serious. It describes the action of someone who consciously showed little or no concern for the safety of others. It is more than being careless- gross negligence implies that a person deliberately disregarded the safety of other people, which resulted in danger, injury, or even death. It is an intentional act (versus an accidental one).

Stambaugh Law is a reliable law firm with more than 30 years of experience, and we will help you through your negligence personal injury case.

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