When it comes to Personal Injury and Accident Law, negligence is a very important concept. In accidents and similar situations, negligence or carelessness of the other party is a common cause leading to injuries and damages suffered by victims. Though negligence can involve technical definitions and know-how, a basic understanding of it should be had by any and every person. You never know when you can become a victim of accidents and injuries, and it would be practical to know these things and be familiar with the rights you have.
What is Negligence?
Simply put, when a person acts carelessly and causes injury or damage to a person, that person should be responsible for any injuries or losses that the victim suffers. Let’s say, for example, that an innocent pedestrian crosses the street but a careless driver who beats the red light accidentally hits the pedestrian and causes him bruises and broken bones. The driver has to pay for the medical bills and other damages that the pedestrian suffered. Negligence, therefore, is just a matter of what is fair. The pedestrian can’t be expected to pay the expensive hospital bills because of an accident that was not his fault. The negligent driver who should have followed traffic rules should shoulder all the costs.
In all situations of everyday life, the law requires that everyone acts in ways that fall within certain standards of conduct. Drivers should follow traffic rules at all times. Owners of establishments should make sure that their pathways and roads are maintained and free from slippery surfaces and potholes. These standards of conduct are put in place to avoid unnecessary injury to the general public. Once a person does not act according to these standards and causes injury to other persons, they are guilty of negligence and become liable to the injured persons.
The Elements of Negligence
Negligence in law has “elements” which all have to be present in a situation for a victim (the plaintiff) to be able to recover successfully from the other party (the defendant). In simple terms, they are the following:
- The defendant owed a duty to the plaintiff to observe care in his actions;
- The defendant breached that duty though his action or inaction;
- The defendant’s action or inaction was the cause of the plaintiff’s injury; and
- The plaintiff actually suffered injury because of the defendant’s conduct
As an illustration of the elements, consider again the previous car accident example. The pedestrian in that case can recover from the careless driver because:
- The driver had a duty to follow traffic rules for the safety of pedestrians and other cars;
- When he beat the red light, he breached that duty by not following traffic rules;
- His action caused him to hit the innocent pedestrian crossing the street; and
- The pedestrian suffered bruises and broken bones because the driver didn’t follow the traffic rules
At the end of the day, knowledge of basic legal concepts is really a must not only for lawyers but more importantly for every person. After all, the laws we have are really meant to protect all of us. Basic knowledge of negligence is really essential, and if ever you become a victim of an accident or suffer personal injury, it pays to know what your rights are and what you can do to remedy the situation.
Written by Kellie Bertels, an attorney at Bandre, Hunt and Snider in Jefferson City, MO. Bandre, Hunt and Snider are the best attorneys Jefferson City MO have to offer.