Personal Injury:

Negligence

A person is considered legally negligent if he or she fails to act in a manner that would be considered prudent and reasonable for another person under the same circumstances. The issue then becomes defining the terms “prudent” and “reasonable” with regard to the situation that caused injury or harm. The resolving of this dilemma is usually left up to the judge or a jury, following the presentation of evidence. 

In regard to personal injury lawsuits, negligence is defined as conduct that fails to meet the standard for the protection of others against unreasonable risk of harm. To prove negligence, the plaintiff in a personal injury case must demonstrate the following:

  • The defendant owed a duty of care to the plaintiff
  • The defendant breached that duty of care
  • The defendant's conduct caused the plaintiff harm
  • The plaintiff suffered damages as a result of the defendant's conduct

In certain personal injury cases, a statute may define specific duties, such as the duty of an individual to rescue another. Certain professionals, such as lawyers and physicians, are also held to a certain standard of care in their jobs. When a professional fails to meet this level of care, they may be held accountable for medical malpractice, which is based on the law of negligence.

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