Proving Fault and Damages in a Negligence Lawsuit

In all states, people must act according to prevailing standards of behavior to avoid putting others at risk. But some individuals fail to conduct themselves as a reasonable person would under similar circumstances. 

If such misconduct causes harm to others, there’s likely a case of negligence. A person violating the standard level of care required by the state and injuring someone can be considered negligent. While a negligent person may not intend to cause harm, they could still be held legally liable as their carelessness hurt another person. 

For instance, a driver fails to use a turn signal when driving toward an intersection, resulting in a crash. The driver would be responsible for paying the financial losses sustained by injured victims. 

Negligence is the typical basis for personal injury lawsuits and claims. In negligence cases, accident victims can sue the negligent party for the harm caused. However, they have the burden of proof, meaning plaintiffs must demonstrate the other party’s negligence.

Did you or a loved one sustain injuries because of the other person’s negligent act? In this article, The Personal Injury Center will walk you through what you can expect in your negligence case.

Key Takeaways
  • Negligence occurs when someone fails to use reasonable care, which directly causes property damage or injury to another person.
  • You can file a claim and recover compensation if you sustained injuries because of someone else’s negligent act.
  • You must satisfy certain elements to determine and prove that someone was negligent and caused your injuries.

Different Types of Negligence in Personal Injury Cases

Understanding the extent of fault and negligence in an accident is crucial to ensure fair compensation. Although the concept of negligence may seem straightforward, proving it is an overwhelming task. 

For one thing, different types of negligence apply to various personal injury cases. Learn what they are and their bearing on your specific situation. 

Ordinary negligence

Ordinary negligence often occurs when a person fails to meet standard care due to inattention. One example is a grocery store failing to put up a wet floor sign, resulting in a slip-and-fall injury. 

An ordinarily negligent act is a careless mistake. In this type of negligence, the person doesn’t intend to injure others. But their reckless actions led to an accident since they failed to exercise reasonable care. As a result, they would be liable for damages. 

Gross negligence

This is a more serious type of negligence. Unlike ordinarily negligent acts, gross negligence isn’t an act of simple carelessness. It involves willful disregard and extreme indifference for others’ safety. Examples include speeding in a school zone or driving while intoxicated and causing an accident. 

Perpetrators of gross negligence may have known their actions would most likely damage property or put others in danger. They may have to pay additional punitive damages to deter similar outrageous conduct.

Comparative negligence

This form of negligence often arises when multiple parties share some of the blame in an accident. Under the comparative negligence system, a plaintiff who is partially at fault is still eligible for compensation. However, the damages they can recover in a negligence claim are reduced by the percentage of their liability. 

Comparative negligence rules vary, and the type applicable to your case will depend on your state’s negligence laws. In the US, the two types of comparative negligence are the following: 

  • Pure comparative negligence

This allows you to recover compensation even if you’re 99% at fault for the accident. But the amount of damages you can collect is limited according to the allocation of responsibility. Suppose your total damages are $45,000, and you’re 80% at fault. In this case, you can only recover 20% of the compensation or $9,000. 

  • Modified comparative negligence

This bars you from receiving compensation if your degree of fault exceeds the specific threshold state law sets. Depending on your state, the maximum percentage for modified comparative negligence can be 50 or 51. 

Under the 50 percent rule, you won’t be able to recover damages if you’re 50% or more liable for the accident. If you are in a state that follows the 51 percent bar, the threshold is 51 percent or more of the fault. 

Contributory negligence

This negligence makes it far more difficult for the injured party to seek damages. It prohibits you from recovering compensation even if you’re only 1% at fault in the accident. 

Because of its all-or-nothing approach to liability and harsh results, most states have replaced it. However, the following still use the contributory negligence rule:

  • Alabama
  • Maryland
  • North Carolina
  • Virginia
  • Washington, DC

Vicarious liability

This type of negligence holds one party responsible for the reckless actions of another party. Vicarious liability arises when an individual’s negligent acts involve another person or business. Most often, vicarious liability applies to employer-employee relationships. 

One example is an employer being held responsible for their employee’s actions while on the job. For instance, the store owner would be vicariously liable for a slip-and-fall accident when an employee fails to clean up the spill. 

Professional negligence

Professional negligence happens when professionals like doctors or lawyers fail to perform their responsibilities to a required standard of care. Filing a negligence lawsuit against a professional differs slightly from suing a grocery store or neighbor. 

Typically, it requires proving that the professional’s service falls below the expected standard of care. Note that professionals across various disciplines often have indemnity insurance to protect them against claims arising from service-related mistakes. 

Negligent misrepresentation

This usually occurs when a party to a contract makes a false statement or untrue assertion and causes harm to another. Negligent misrepresentation can happen in various contexts, but it’s frequent in real estate and contract law. In the real estate context, it can arise when an agent makes erroneous statements about a property. 

Common Situations That Lead to Negligence Claims 

Every accident has different causes, and most of them stem from negligence. Cases involving negligent acts can happen in a variety of ways. Here are the common ones that lead to negligence claims. 

  • Premises liability: This occurs when a property owner fails to keep their premises safe, causing injury to a visitor. Slip-and-fall accidents are the most common example of premises liability cases. 
  • Car accidents: There are several contributing factors to car accidents. But traffic violations, such as tailgating and driving under the influence, are typical examples of negligence in many car crashes. 
  • Workplace accidents: Negligent acts in workplace accidents may include violations of Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standards
  • Medical malpractice: Healthcare providers must provide treatment based on their field’s standard of care. But there are instances where wrongful acts like a doctor’s negligence cause harm to the patient. 
  • Nursing home abuse: This is one of the overlooked incidents of negligent acts. Nursing home abuse can occur because the facility isn’t safe for the elderly. Most often, the perpetrators are negligent staff members or other residents. 

There are more negligence cases where accidents and injuries could have been preventable but for the other party’s actions. Regardless of the type, you may have the right to secure compensation when another person’s negligent act causes your injury. But the process can be complicated. 

How To Prove Fault and Damages in Negligence Lawsuits

A successful negligence lawsuit provides maximum compensation for the injured victims to recover. However, it requires proving that someone else was negligent and caused the accident and resulting injuries you suffered. Below are some things you must remember when proving fault and damages in negligence cases. 

Establish the elements of negligence

Demonstrating that negligence occurred is critical in securing compensation for your accident-related injuries. Without establishing the following elements, you won’t be able to file a successful claim or lawsuit based on negligence: 

  • Duty of care

Does the negligent party have a legal duty to use the standard of care to protect you from an accident? The existence of this legal obligation is essential to a successful claim. The law must also recognize the relationship between the defendant and the plaintiff. 

For instance, driving safely and obeying traffic rules are part of all drivers’ duty of care to their passengers. Business owners are also legally responsible for exercising reasonable care to ensure their property is safe for their employees and customers. 

  • Breach of duty

Proving that the person owed you a duty of care isn’t enough. You must also show that they breached that duty or failed to provide you with the expected standard of care. For example, a motorist drives above the designated speed limit. 

  • Causation

Did the defendant’s negligent acts cause the plaintiff’s injury and losses? Causation is also fundamental in establishing negligence. This means you must prove that the breach of duty caused personal injuries and property damage. 

  • Harm and damages

You must provide proof of harm and damages to have a valid cause of action for negligence. For instance, you may have sustained a physical injury because of someone else’s negligent act. Having documented evidence for your medical bills, treatment records, and other out-of-pocket expenses are one way to show you suffered actual harm. 

Collect the right types of evidence

Having sufficient proof is essential when establishing that someone was negligent. When you file a personal injury claim, chances are the defendant will dispute the merit of your case. You need proof that someone else’s negligence is responsible for your injuries. Below are some types of evidence to help prove negligent acts in an accident.:

  • Police reports
  • Testimonies of experts and witnesses
  • Photos and videos of the accident scene
  • Documentation of your injuries and medical bills

Seek legal help from a personal injury attorney

Victims need an expert in law and similar situations to determine negligence. Negligence can be a complicated area of law that requires the knowledge and expertise of an attorney. 

Failing to consult an attorney early enough can make your situation worse. Remember that state laws concerning negligence cases can vary. But an experienced lawyer knows how to apply them to your specific case. 

Personal injury attorneys are equipped to navigate the complicated nature of the legal system. They would ensure that accident victims meet all elements of negligence and corresponding evidence to prove actual damages for the plaintiff’s injury. 

The Importance of Hiring a Lawyer in Your Negligence Case

Many people underestimate the importance of legal counsel after being involved in an accident. Although optional, working with a lawyer will give you a better outcome. 

No personal injury lawyer can guarantee a definite favorable result, but they can be beneficial in numerous ways. Here’s what an experienced attorney from a reliable law firm can do in your negligence case. 

Protect and advocate for your legal rights

Injured victims can file a claim or lawsuit to recover compensation from the person who hurt them. However, asserting this right without a lawyer can be challenging. 

The legal elements to prove fault and liability may vary, depending on the law applicable to your case. A personal injury lawyer will help build your case and fight for what you rightfully deserve from a well-informed position. 

With a knowledgeable attorney, you can avoid making mistakes that could weaken your chances of maximum compensation. Insurance companies tend to use unfair tactics that strip you of your rights. But a lawyer will thoroughly investigate and gather the necessary evidence to prove your negligence claim. 

Besides ensuring you meet all the legal requirements, attorneys will objectively and honestly assess your situation. This way, you can pursue the best possible action without compromising your rights. 

Ensure higher settlements or verdicts

It’s difficult for people unfamiliar with personal injury laws to determine how much the negligence claim is worth. 

Negotiating with the liable party and their insurance provider isn’t easy. Since there’s no definite formula for calculating the damages, the insurance company will pay you as little as possible. You could easily make the mistake of accepting lowball offers and unfair settlements. 

But attorneys know how to use the facts of your case to maximize the value of your claim. They’re also skilled at providing the necessary evidence and documentation for each type of damage. With their negotiation skills, lawyers help you work out a higher settlement. 

A personal injury attorney can bring your case to trial if the insurance company is unwilling to negotiate fairly. They will file a lawsuit and aggressively advocate for your rights to fair compensation in court. 

Give you better peace of mind

There’s already enough stress on your mind and body after getting injured in an accident. You don’t need the additional emotional strain that often comes with the personal injury claim process. 

With legal counsel, you can minimize the unnecessary stress brought by court dates, depositions, and other essential legal procedures. You won’t have to worry about filing the legal paperwork before the statute of limitations expires to preserve your rights. 

An experienced personal injury attorney serves as your legal representative while you recover from your injuries. They will also keep you informed of every development in your case. With a lawyer on your side, you can ensure the best possible outcome and have better peace of mind.

Pro Tip

Insurance companies look for evidence that they can use to deny your claim. You must notify them about your accident but never discuss how you’re feeling or how badly injured you are. They might use your statements against you in lowering or denying compensation.

Injured Due to Someone Else’s Negligence? Visit The Personal Injury Center

Being hurt in an accident can be stressful. Besides the range of physical injuries and emotional trauma, there are financial challenges. 

Missed work and hefty medical bills are a few losses injured victims may sustain after the accident. Fortunately, you don’t have to carry these financial burdens alone. Injured parties can seek compensation from the negligent party. 

However, you cannot just point the finger at someone else and blame them for the accident. Like most personal injury claims, it requires proving the other party is legally liable for causing your injury. 

That complicated task often requires hiring an experienced personal injury lawyer. Visit The Personal Injury Center for a free case evaluation, and we’ll connect you to the most suitable attorney. 

Get the compensation you legally deserve. Find the right lawyer for your negligence case through The Personal Injury Center.

FAQs on Negligence Lawsuits

Below is a list of compensation you may recover if someone else's negligence caused you harm. 

  • Medical expenses
  • Lost wages and earning capacity
  • Repair or replacement costs for damaged property
  • Physical pain and suffering
  • Mental anguish
  • Loss of consortium
  • Loss of enjoyment of life
  • Other out-of-pocket financial losses related to the accident

The length of medical negligence claims depends on various factors, such as the case's complexity and how well settlement negotiations go. A simple case may take only months to settle. Meanwhile, it may take a few years to resolve if the case goes to court.

Besides negligence, there are other theories of liability applicable to personal injury. These include the following: 

  • Strict liability: Strict liability claims impose legal responsibility for injuries even without proof of negligence or direct fault. This is usually applicable in some states that involve manufacturing defects, abnormally hazardous activities, and animal bites.
  • Intentional wrongs: This is more challenging to prove than negligence. Also known as intentional torts, these are harmful acts done deliberately to injure another person. The plaintiff must also show that the wrongful act was deliberate.