Negligence is a very confusing term for most people because it often comes with the false connotation of intent. In many cases, a party can be negligent even though it had the best intentions in mind. Defining negligence is synonymous with fault, because people often make mistakes or do things that were not intended, but are still responsible whenever those actions result in negative consequences. This understanding of negligence is very important when considering a personal injury lawsuit because the entire case will rest on proving that the defendant was the negligent party— or the one at fault for the accident, injuries or damages.
Duty of Care Owed to Person Whom Was Injured
When arguing negligence, the terms “breach of care” and “duty of care” are introduced when determining fault. Duty of care often makes people think of medical malpractice cases where the doctor failed to meet his duty of care or deviated from the standard of care. This applies to all aspects of tort law and the duty of care is defined as what is expected from the defendant under the circumstances present at the time of the alleged injury or damage. Property owners have the duty of care to make sure that their grounds are free of hazards that will cause trips, slips, falls and other injuries, dog owners have the duty of care to ensure that their pets do not attack other people and drivers have the duty of care to follow applicable traffic laws and to make efforts to avoid collisions.
Fault vs Intent: What is Really Needed To Be Established to Pursue a Case?
When proving negligence, you are not required to prove intent. While some cases involve intentionally malicious actions that have caused physical, emotional and financial harm, the failure to act properly or an unintended error in judgment can be considered negligence as well. If someone is distracted while driving because of a phone call or text message, he or she is considered negligent when such a distraction is the cause of an accident that injures another person— regardless of intent or if he or she attempted to avoid the collision at the last moment.
How to Prove Negligence
It is the burden of the plaintiff in a personal injury lawsuit to establish fault and prove the other party’s negligence. In order to do this, a reasonable and normal response to whatever conditions caused the accident or injury must be established and it must then be proven that the defendant failed to act within those reasonable expectations. In medical malpractice cases, it can be extremely difficult to prove negligence if it cannot be proven that the doctor performing the procedure in question failed to act as any other doctor put in the same position would have. Personal injury lawyers will often rely on the testimony of multiple witnesses, the opinion of experts in related fields and physical evidence to prove that the defendant in a personal injury lawsuit was negligent and responsible for damages.
If you are unable to prove negligence, it is unlikely that you will win a personal injury lawsuit, which is why it is extremely important to consult an attorney as soon as possible following an accident or injury so that the required evidence can be examined and your lawyer can perform a thorough investigation to build and establish your case.