If you are bringing a personal injury case against another person, one of the conditions you and your attorney have to prove is that the other person behaved negligently to cause your injury. Legally, negligence means the person has failed to fulfill a legal duty which would have protected you from injury.
Here are the top five facts you should know about negligence before filing a personal injury case.
1. Not Just Any Poor Choice Qualifies
There has to be a defined legal duty which has been breached before an action, or lack thereof, qualifies as negligence. A homeowner, for example, has a legal obligation to make reasonable provisions for the safety of guests on the property. In general, everyone has a legal obligation to meet the standard of behavior of a “reasonable person.”
2. “Reasonable Behavior” Is Not Based on Your Circumstances
The standard of what a “reasonable person” would do doesn't take into account most personal circumstances. Instead, the judge or jury will determine what a reasonable person should have done in that situation. What was reasonable for the individual involved is not an effective legal argument.
3. Certain Cases Receive Special Consideration
There are exceptions to the reasonable person standard for lawyers and doctors—they have a legal obligation to behave as reasonable professionals, not laymen, and therefore have a higher standard to meet. The same goes for children, who are not judged by the standard of a reasonable adult but rather a reasonable child of their age.
4. There Are Different Degrees of Negligence
Obvious or extreme negligence may be easier to prove. Sometimes, it is possible to argue that a situation couldn't have happened without negligence. Other times, extraordinary negligence rises to to the legal level of reckless endangerment, where the behavior was practically guaranteed to cause injury.
5. There Are Two Kinds of Damages Recoverable
Actual damages refers to the cost of medical treatment, lost wages, and sometimes emotional suffering caused by your personal injury. Punitive damages go beyond actual damages, and are designed to punish the act of negligence rather than just compensate you for the harm. Punitive damages aren't always called for, but may be in the case of extraordinary negligence.
Be aware of how the legal treatment of negligence may affect your personal injury case. To get a better idea of what to expect, discuss it with your attorney in advance.
The Gil Law Firm in Dothan, AL, provides counsel and representation in bankruptcy and debt consolidation as well as personal injury cases. Call them at (334) 673-0100, or read more about their services on their website.