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The Basics of a Personal Injury Lawsuit: Negligence

The legal doctrine of negligence is the cornerstone of almost every personal injury liability lawsuit. Negligence is based on the notion that we have a duty as members of society, when undertaking actions that carry with them a foreseeable risk, to reasonably minimize that risk to others. Because you have not consented to the risk involved with someone else’s actions, if you are injured physically, financially, or emotionally by their actions, they may be held liable for the damages they have caused.

Duty of Care

The first criterion of a negligence claim is that a duty of care must exist. A duty exists when we take actions that are reasonably likely to place others in harm’s way. Such situations can range from the outrageous, such as playing with fire, to the reasonably dangerous such as operating a power tool, to the routine, such as driving a car. The majority of daily actions do not carry with them an inordinate amount of risk, and as such, the duty of care is minimal to nonexistent in these cases.

Breach of Duty

Secondly, the duty of care must be breached in order for a claim to be valid. In other words, the defendant must have failed to reasonably reduce the risk of his or her actions. The implication of this is that the defendant must actually perform the breach. If a person is operating a chainsaw in a safe manner and the chain snaps, causing an injury, he or she has likely not breached his duty of care; he or she is simply the victim of an unfortunate accident.

Cause of Injury

Finally, an injury must actually occur. If a duty is breached and no injury occurs, there is no negligence claim. Furthermore, the breach must be the actual and proximate cause of the injury. If, for example, the person operating the chainsaw is using it in an unsafe manner, but you are injured by something unrelated to his or her unsafe actions, the claim of negligence would not be valid.

Often times, this can be difficult to prove especially when numerous factors are involved, so contacting an experienced personal injury attorney is a necessity when dealing with a negligence claim.

Contact Us

If you have been injured as a result of negligence, contact Jacksonville personal injury lawyer Don Guthrie today at 904-296-1088.

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