What is Negligence?
Many civil professionals, such as lawyers and doctors, incorporate a duty of care to be fulfilled, and practitioners are prohibited from deliberately causing harm to their clients and other parties. When someone fails to carry out this duty, they commit negligence. Often, failure causes physical or psychological injury to people and damage to properties owned by others.
Many countries define negligence in their laws; for example, South Australia has defined negligence in the Civil Liability Act 1936 (SA) as any harmful action towards others resulting in death, injury, or damage to properties. No matter how other countries or states define this act, the general concept is that the action of one party is harmful to others, and the victims have the right to financial compensation.
Negligence often happens in car accidents involving two parties. Other negligence cases include accidents on construction sites and medical negligence wherein medical professionals performed harmful actions toward their patients.
How is Negligence Determined?
Often, four questions are used in a court of law to evaluate if negligence happened. These questions are:
- Did the defendant, or the party being sued, owe a duty of care to the plaintiff or to the party bringing the case forward?
- Was there a breach of duty by the defendant? If so, how grave was the breach?
- Did the plaintiff incur injury or suffer any damage to their well-being or property?
- Did the plaintiff directly suffer from the defendant’s breach of duty of care?
All of these questions should be answered and carefully considered to justify whether or not the defendant is guilty of negligence. If the evidence brought forward by the plaintiff is not enough to satisfy these criteria, then failure to carry out the duty of care can be ruled out.
These questions are often the legal basis for cases involving negligence. Gathering evidence and using precedents helps establish a legal basis to satisfy the criteria.
When is A Duty of Care Breached?
Duty of care varies on the standard expected from the defendant during a court proceeding. This standard is often determined by comparing the actions of a reasonable or identical person under the same circumstances of the alleged breach of duty of care. If the defendant acted differently compared to what a reasonable person would do, it would fall below the standard set by the court.
One example is the regular activity of driving. All drivers are expected to adhere to road rules, laws, and regulations, and they have a duty of care towards other drivers. If they violate these rules or fail to act according to standards, they have breached their duty of care. The standard of care for drivers can be:
- Drivers should be aware of the distance of vehicles in front, beside, and behind them.
- Drivers should follow the speed limit of roads.
- Drivers should not drive while under the influence.
- Drivers should give way to passing emergency vehicles such as ambulances, fire trucks, and police cars.
Determining Whether A Breach of Duty of Care Caused an Injury
Sometimes, a breach of duty of care does not immediately become the direct cause of injury. For example, a plaintiff contributed to their injury and blamed it on the defendant. In this case, it is called contributory negligence.
Contributory negligence refers to the failure of a person to consider their safety resulting in an injury, loss, or damage to property. Their liability to the damage depends on their level of contribution.
For example, a person who slipped on a wet floor with a sign explicitly telling them not to step on the wet floor, resulting in a fall that dislocated their shoulder, has committed contributory negligence. This person who slipped on a wet floor could have read the sign and followed it by walking on the dry side of the floor. Another example could be people engaging in high-risk activities, such as those who engage in free falls or free diving.
This concept is related to negligence because it defines the liability caused by negligence that one person holds to another. Filing for claims or financial compensation often depends on the vicarious liability justified.
If you are planning to sue someone for negligence, identifying the liability of the party you are suing is essential. Here are some factors to consider:
- What is your legal basis for a claim of financial compensation?
- What is your relationship with the person being sued?
- What are the costs incurred, and how much are you planning to hold the other party liable for?
Like cases with litigation processes, you have a 4-year window to file a lawsuit if you are suing someone for personal injuries incurred. You have to secure a medico-legal report immediately after incurring the damages so that your evidence would have a solid legal basis.
Suppose you make a financial claim for negligence resulting in damages to personal property or economic loss. In that case, you have up to four years to file the necessary documents. Of course, you have to build a strong possibility with your lawyer by gathering as much evidence as possible, such as transaction statements, financial records, and proof that negligence was the root cause of the damages or the losses you incurred.
Fighting Against Negligence
If you are planning to bring a case forward against someone due to negligence, our team at Warner & Warner will get the help you need. We have represented clients who have suffered from physical, psychological, and financial damages caused by the negligence of others.
We are committed to representing your best interests in a court of law. If you have experienced negligence recently, or you know someone who suffered from the negligence of others, then call us immediately at 321-450-7928. We will review your case for free, and we will give you our expert legal advice on matters that might be confusing to you.