What Does “Negligence” Mean Legally?
If you have either been injured in an accident or unintentionally caused an accident, you have likely heard the word “negligence” referenced in regards to your situation. As the legal concept of negligence tends to form the foundation of most personal injury lawsuits, it is important to understand what negligence means in a legal sense. Once you have a basic understanding of how “negligence” may apply in your situation, you will be better able to ask your attorney informed questions about your case.
What is Negligence?
The legal concept of negligence is a complex one, so it is important to understand that there is often a great deal of nuance involved in any situation related to negligence. But at its most basic, negligence generally occurs when someone owes a “duty of care” towards another and somehow breaches that duty.
Duty of care occurs when one person or entity possesses a legal responsibility to avoid causing specific kinds of harm to another. For example, processed food manufacturers possess a duty of care to consumers in that they are legally bound to ensure that processed foods do not contain shards of glass or poison within them. Motor vehicle drivers are legally bound to other drivers, pedestrians and cyclists in that they have a duty to obey the rules of the road. When a driver disobeys the rules of the road (or a food manufacturer fails to enact safety mechanisms) and harm results, that negligent party may ultimately be held liable for breaching its duty of care.
Who is Liable for Being Negligent?
Not everyone who behaves in a negligent manner may be held liable for that behavior. Fault is also a complex concept in personal injury matters… and not everyone who is deemed at fault (partially or totally) for harm done is necessarily held liable for contributing to that harm.
Establishing fault in a personal injury case can be tricky because not every case is straightforward. For example, if a daycare provider failed to babyproof its facility and a toddler was electrocuted placing his or her fingers in an uncovered light socket, that daycare provider would likely be considered at fault for the harm caused through its negligent behavior. However, if a toddler was electrocuted after pulling off a covered socket at a rare moment when the provider was not watching because he or she was attending to another toddler who was having a seizure, that provider may ultimately not be deemed liable even though negligence and harm both technically occurred.
If you have either been injured due to another’s negligence or have unintentionally caused someone harm due to your own negligence, you may benefit from speaking with an experienced personal injury lawyer Melbourne, FL residents rely on. As many personal injury attorneys specialize in certain kinds of negligence cases, it is important to consult a firm that seems like a good fit for your particular situation. Speaking with an attorney does not commit you to a specific course of action. Consulting with an attorney allows you to make informed decisions about your legal situation moving forward.
Thank you to our friends and contributors at Arcadier & Associates for their insight into personal injury and negligence.