Negligence: Legal Definition
Negligence is generally defined as the failure to take the necessary care for others’ safety. When it applies in a personal injury case, the negligence legal definition generally means that a defendant acted in some way that could be reasonably expected to cause harm to others, and did ultimately cause harm in the form of bodily injury.
Cases in Which Negligence May Apply
There are several types of cases where negligence may play a role. Some of the common cases include:
- Slip and fall accidents
- Trip and fall accidents
- Premises liability accidents
- Motor vehicle collisions
- Trucking accidents
- Workman’s compensation cases
- Dog bites
- Medical malpractice cases
- Defective product cases
- Wrongful death
In each of these case types, the defendant typically acted or is alleged to have acted in a way that exposed the victim to an unreasonable risk of harm. Lawyers can typically help a victim of negligence to identify the liable party and to establish fault.
Proving Negligence in a Personal Injury or Wrongful Death Claim
Anybody who seeks to prove that a defendant is responsible for a plaintiff’s losses will do so by proving that the defendant acted negligently. Whether that defendant is a doctor being accused of medical malpractice, a product manufacturer whose product proved to be unsafe, or anyone else, the lawyer for the plaintiff will generally follow a four-step process when attempting to prove negligence.
This process includes:
- Establishing that the defendant owed the plaintiff a duty of care
This duty of care is generally defined as one’s responsibility to avoid acting (or not acting) in a way that exposes others to danger. Most states including Arizona have a law that makes each defendant’s duty of care self-evident. The hurdle for lawyers is not typically proving that a duty of care exists, but instead in…
- Proving that the defendant breached their duty of care to the plaintiff
This point typically lies at the heart of any personal injury claim. The ability to prove that any defendant breached their duty of care is the linchpin in any personal injury claim, because if you can prove that the defendant acted negligently, then you may be able to…
- Prove causation between the breach of duty of care and the plaintiff’s injuries
If a jury concludes that a defendant breached their duty of care to the plaintiff (and in doing so, acted negligently), then they may be inclined to find that the breach of duty also caused the injuries or death for which the plaintiff has brought a lawsuit. If the jury believes that this causation exists, then they may…
- Calculate and award damages to the plaintiff, to be paid by the defendant
Damages are financial awards to be paid by the defendant as retribution for the harm that they exposed the plaintiff to. This is the final stage of any negligence claim, and it is the reason why most plaintiffs bring forth personal injury and wrongful death suits.
Each personal injury and wrongful death suit is different, but there are some commonly-awarded damages in cases where it is determined that negligence occurred.
Possible Damages in Cases Where Negligence Occurred
Accidents involving negligence typically vary in outcome and damage inflicted, but the awards that are ordered by courts are often similar in nature. Financial awards arising from negligence lawsuits may cover:
- Emergency transportation from the scene of the accident
- Emergency care provided in the wake of the accident
- The cost of any short- or long-term hospital stays required because of negligence-caused injuries
- Any short- or long-term physical or psychological rehabilitation required because of the accident
- Lost wages incurred because a victim of negligence could not work due to their injuries
- A diminished earning capacity due to the limiting nature of injuries
- Pain and suffering incurred by an accident involving negligence
In wrongful death cases, additional damages may cover:
- Funeral costs
- The loss of companionship for the spouse of the deceased
- The loss of guidance for the children and grandchildren of the deceased
- The loss of financial protection for dependents and spouse of the deceased
This process of proving negligence and then collecting damages is critical to any successful personal injury or wrongful death claim, but it is not the only service that a lawyer can provide.
Additional Lawyer Services If You Are the Victim of Negligence
If you are the victim of negligence, understanding the negligence legal definition is very important. A lawyer can help by handling a number of responsibilities, each of which is necessary to present a case for damages. Some of these responsibilities may include:
- Initiating your case immediately so that you abide by the statutes of limitation of personal injury and wrongful death, which is generally two years from the date of an accident in Arizona
- Handling all legal responsibilities necessary to complete your case, whether the completion is a settlement or judgment
- Ensuring that your rights are protected
If You Are the Victim of Negligence, Call A Lawyer Today
Do not wait to take legal action. Call our team at Zanes Law today at (866) 499-8989 to discuss your case.