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The Role of Negligence in a Personal Injury Claim

Many personal injury and wrongful death claims may arise from intentional acts of others, such as violent assaults or homicides. However, many personal injuries are caused by a party that did not specifically intend to cause injury. In such cases, an injured victim still has a burden of proof in order to recover for their injuries. This burden is to prove that the defendant acted in a negligent manner.

People may have a basic understanding of the word “negligence,” but they may not realize the exact definition of negligence in legal terms. Is is generally not enough to simply state that you believed someone acted in a negligent fashion; instead, there are specific elements that you must demonstrate to the jury and the court. The following is a brief overview of the legal concept of negligence as it relates to personal injury claims.

Duty of Care

The law imposes various duties of care [1] of different individuals in different situations. Some of these duties of care are set out in common law while others are set forth by state statute. For example, the following duties of care apply in most situations:

  • Drivers have the duty to operate their vehicles in a reasonably safe manner to avoid injury to others.
  • Doctors and other professionals must act as a similar reasonable professional would in that particular situation.
  • Common carriers have the highest duty of care when it comes to passengers or other cargo and should attempt to avoid injury or damage at all costs.
  • Dog owners in Florida are strictly liable [2] for all harm caused by their animals.

The first step in proving negligence is to demonstrate that the individual had a certain duty of care in your particular situation.

Breach of Duty

Once you have established a duty of care, you must then establish that the individual breached that duty. Example of breach of duty include:

  • Impaired driving
  • Distracted driving
  • Fatigued driving
  • Failing to obey traffic laws and signals
  • Medical malpractice
  • Allowing hazardous conditions on your property
  • Providing inadequate security at your business
  • Selling a defective or dangerous product without warning
  • Inadequate supervision at daycare centers or schools

You must present evidence that the individual breached their duty of care in order to be able to recover.

Causation and damages

Finally, you must prove that the individual’s breach of duty was a direct or proximate cause of your injury. This means that their careless actions must have contributed in some way to your accident. Additionally, you must show that you suffered actual losses due to the accident and your injuries. Common losses include the following:

  • Medical expenses
  • Property damage
  • Loss of income or benefits
  • Loss of enjoyment of life
  • Physical suffering and pain
  • Emotional trauma

Damages in personal injury cases can range from a couple of hundred dollars for an emergency room visit to millions of dollars to compensate a victim for catastrophic injuries and permanent disabilities. Calculating losses is a complicated process, so you should always seek the assistance of an attorney.

Contact an experienced personal injury lawyer to discuss a possible case today

If you have suffered injury and believe another party has acted negligently, you should not delay in consulting with an experienced personal injury attorney in Clearwater, Florida today. Negligence and related personal injury legal concepts can be complicated and a qualified attorney will know how to sufficiently gather and present evidence of negligence in court so that you can receive the compensation you deserve. Please do not hesitate to call the Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA for your free consultation today.

Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA
800 North Belcher Road
Clearwater, FL 33756



[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Duty_of_care
[2] http://www.leg.state.fl.us/statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&Search_String=&URL=0700-0799/0767/Sections/0767.04.html