When you fall victim to another person’s negligence, causing you bodily harm, the first thing you do is prove who’s at fault. Whoever is negligent in the incident pays for the damages, including hospital and medical expenses. The compensation will help you get back on your feet after the accident and maybe recover some of your lost time and money.
But proving fault in a negligence case involves many complicated, legal factors, usually involving the advice of an experienced personal injury lawyer. You must prove the key elements to win a lawsuit for negligence. The first element is duty of care.
Duty of Care
The most basic rule of negligence requires all Americans to act reasonably to avoid harming other people. For example, drivers know that it’s their obligation to obey traffic rules as a courtesy to everyone else sharing the road. Negligence occurs if one driver crashes into another by violating a traffic regulation, even if it’s unintentional.
It’s also important to define the degree of “reason” required. Reasonable care refers to what someone of sound judgment would do in any situation. But reason can still vary depending on the time, place, and other conditions of the incident. So the same conduct may be considered negligent in one case but not in another.
For example, a baseball player hits a foul ball, which ends up striking a spectator near the field. In this situation, the athlete isn’t negligent because foul balls are a normal part of the game. In another context, people are playing baseball in a parking lot. One player accidentally sends a foul ball into the sidewalk, hitting a pedestrian. The law may deem the athlete as careless since they’re playing a game where bystanders are walking.
The second element of negligence is breach of duty.
Breach of Duty
The relationship between parties involved in the accident changes the scope of the basic rule of negligence. The law imposes a duty of care on businesses and professionals because they have an obligation to their customers. Duty of care entails a greater responsibility as opposed to reasonable care. For instance, a bus driver has a higher duty to his or her passengers than a baseball player would to the audience.
On another level, lawyers and doctors must not only act within reason, they should also be knowledgeable, skillful, and professional enough to hold someone else’s life in their hands. Given that, a miscalculation on the part of the doctor may be grounds for medical malpractice.
Medical malpractice, slip-and-fall claims, and other cases of negligence are considered a breach of duty. Breach of duty is what you need to win your personal injury claim. It’s not enough to claim that the other party owes you a duty of care, the question is whether he or she neglected that duty.
This is where the tedious aspect of the legal process starts. Even if you’re confident that a duty of care and a breach of duty do exist in your case, there are still some elements you need for your personal injury claim.
You would have to prove that if not for the person at-fault’s negligence, you wouldn’t have suffered injuries. This kind of claim requires the services of a lawyer, so you can make a compelling, airtight case. Aside from having an attorney on your corner, it pays to know the elements of negligence to make sure you have the law on your side as well.