How is Negligence Defined in a Personal Injury Case?
Car Accident Attorney
From a legal standpoint, negligence is an umbrella term that covers a wide variety of situations. For purposes of personal injury lawsuits, the definition of negligence is that a defendant failed to do what someone of ordinary prudence would have done under the same or similar circumstances. Alternatively, negligence can be a defendant’s act that someone of ordinary prudence would not have committed under the same or similar circumstances.
As a car accident attorney from a firm like the Yearin Law Office can explain, negligence in a personal injury suit means that people and companies are expected to act in a reasonably careful manner, but fail to do so. This means you, the plaintiff, suffered injury because of the defendant’s failure to act reasonably.
Example of Personal Injury Negligence
For example, all drivers owe all other drivers a duty of driving safely when they get behind the wheel so they don’t cause accidents. A driver can breach this duty in any number of ways, including the following, speeding, weaving between and among lanes, tailgating, running a stop sign or stop light, driving while talking or texting on a cellphone and driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
If the driver’s negligent behavior causes an accident in which someone suffers injury, the injured person has a good personal injury claim against the negligent driver.
To prove negligence in a court of law, you and your personal injury lawyer need to present evidence establishing the following:
- That the defendant owed you a legal duty of care
- That he or she breached that duty
- That his or her breach was the proximate, i.e., immediate or most important, cause of your injury
- That you suffered compensable damages due to the defendant’s breach
Burden of Proof
Unlike in a criminal case wherein the prosecutor must prove the defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt in order to convict him or her of the crime(s) with which he or she is charged, your burden of proof is lower with regard to proving negligence in a personal injury case. You need only prove by a preponderance of the evidence that the defendant breached his or her duty of care and you suffered injury and loss because of this breach. You may be entitled to compensation for this negligence.