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What is Negligence?

May 15, 2020 in Personal Injury Litigation

Personal injury lawyers handle a wide variety of cases such as car accidents, slip and fall cases, medical malpractice cases, dog bites or practically any case where someone was injured as a result of someone else’s fault. These cases are primarily negligence cases, but many people don’t actually understand what negligence is. Having this knowledge is important because once you understand what negligence is, you will have to prove that your injuries were caused by the other party’s negligence. If you’ve been injured due to another person’s negligence, a San Luis Obispo accident lawyer can evaluate your claim and help you understand your options. 

Negligence vs. Intentional Torts

To understand what negligence is, it may first be helpful to understand what it is not. All personal injury cases, intentional or not, are “tort” cases. A “tort” is a wrongful act that infringes upon your rights, typically in the form of an injury. Intentional torts are those cases where one person intends to cause injury to another. For example, battery isn’t just a crime but is also an intentional tort. If you were attacked by another person, you could sue them for your injuries in addition to any criminal charges they may face. The key element of the case is that the other person intended to cause you harm

Negligence Defined

Negligence, on the other hand, is when someone unintentionally caused you harm. However, the fact that they harmed you is not sufficient to hold them liable for your injuries. You have to prove that the other person was negligent. 

Generally speaking, negligence is the failure to use reasonable care to prevent harm to other people. It can take the form of doing something or not doing something. For example:

  • The owner of an office building is aware that there is a leaking pipe that causes the tile floor in the lobby to become wet and slick. The owner does not place any signs, fix the pipe, or take any steps to fix the leak. A visitor to the building slips on the wet floor and is seriously injured. The building owner’s failure to take action could be considered negligence. 
  • A truck driver is speeding and rear-ends another vehicle stopped in traffic because the driver cannot stop in time. Excessive speeding could be considered negligence. 

The Reasonable Person Standard

As you might imagine, the key to proving negligence is determining whether the other person was acting in accordance with what a reasonably prudent person would do. While this sounds straightforward, it can be quite difficult to prove – in many cases, the difference between what is reasonable prudence and what is not can be quite gray. A San Luis Obispo accident lawyer will be able to evaluate your claim and identify the evidence that will be needed to prove whether the other person was negligent. 

Proving Negligence

If you’ve been injured due to someone else’s fault, we encourage you to speak with an experienced accident attorney. Proving negligence requires extensive knowledge of the law and how it applies to your case. It also requires a careful and thorough analysis of the facts. Many personal injury cases turn on facts that are seemingly insignificant. Finally, in order to successfully pursue a negligence claim, you need to be able to use evidence to document those facts and clearly establish that the other party was negligent. Your lawyer will have the knowledge and experience to help you build a successful case.

Injured? Contact a San Luis Obispo Accident Lawyer

If you’ve been injured in an accident, you need someone on your side who can help you get the compensation you deserve. San Luis Obispo accident lawyer Earl A. Conaway, III has the knowledge, skill, and experience you need. Let us help you put your life back together. Contact us today at (805) 546-8797 to schedule a free consultation to discuss your case and what we can do to help. 

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