What Is Negligence in a Personal Injury Lawsuit?
Although every personal injury lawsuit is unique, nearly all share one common element. That element is negligence, and when it is provable, the injured party is very likely to sit at the helm of a winning case. Of what exactly does negligence consist, and how can the plaintiff establish its causative nature?
The Duty of Care
Regardless of profession, station or occupation, every individual who interacts with others in any way is legally bound to do all he can to avoid causing them damage. Motorists must therefore operate their vehicles with reasonable caution. Business or property owners are duty-bound to keep their premises free of hazards, and it is incumbent upon medical professionals to abide by the dictates of the Hippocratic school and refrain from harming the patient.
Some questions are bound to arise. Although every person alive must adhere to at least some measure of this duty, the breadth of that obligation and the party or parties to whom he owes it may not always be clear. Furthermore, laws that might assist in spelling it out may not exist in all cases.
Breaching the Duty of Care
Once you have established a person’s duty of care in a certain situation, it is then necessary to determine whether the person has breached that duty. This entails proving that his or her irresponsible or malevolent behavior led directly to the injuries in question.
When failure to meet the requisite standards have created or permitted the existence of a situation whose dangers exceed normal standards, a plaintiff can charge the responsible party with breaching the duty of care.
Breach of Duty and Shades of Gray
Although the defendant’s duty of care in a particular situation may go without question, it can sometimes be hard to settle upon whether he has actually breached it. In making this determination, the courts need to do two things. First, they must decide upon what constitutes an acceptable duty of care for the specific situation. Second, they must settle the question of whether the level of danger posed by the circumstances actually falls within the realm of what most would consider tolerable.
The Concept of Causation
Although a particular set of actions or failure to behave in a responsible manner may prove without question to have played a role in causing the claimant’s injuries, this alone may not be sufficient. In his own defense, the defendant will frequently claim that although the breach of duty itself may stand as a proven fact, it played no role in causing the accident.
This is possible when the plaintiff’s own carelessness or lawless conduct may have been equally responsible. For example, although it might be true that the defendant was speeding on a two-lane road, the plaintiff himself could have avoided that head-on collision simply by keeping to the right of the yellow line.
Similarly, if a casino’s misplaced slot machine should cause a patron to trip, the establishment might counter that if the plaintiff had been sober, he’d have noticed the behemoth sitting right there in front of him.
Nevada’s Standard of Contributory Negligence
In the state of Nevada, the courts will routinely reduce the amount of a plaintiff’s winning settlement by the percentage at which it finds his own carelessness to have played a part. For example, if the injured party bears 30 percent of responsibility for the accident in question, he will collect only 70 percent of the total settlement amount. At the very worst, the Nevada claimant who proves to have been 50 percent or more at fault will not collect a cent.
Fighting Your Personal Injury Case
Although they may seem simple on the surface, many personal injury lawsuits grow increasingly convoluted on closer examination. It takes an experienced personal injury lawyer to peel back the layers of complexity to arrive at the truths that will win you the damages you deserve.
The seasoned personal injury attorneys at Weiner Law Group have that experience. Don’t leave the success of your case to chance. Call today at 702-202-0500 or fill out our contact form for a free consultation and let us explain the ways in which we can help you win your settlement.