Negligence & Tort Law
By Mike Stetzer
Personal injury cases are typically filed when a group or individual is injured by the wrongdoing of another person or a company. These "wrongs" are referred to as torts, and the area of law that deals with torts and their consequences is called tort law.
Negligence falls under the category of tort law. A person is generally considered negligent if he or she acts differently than a "reasonably prudent" person would act in any particular situation.
Negligence is a common claim in personal injury lawsuits, especially with injuries caused by car accidents. Negligence laws do vary by jurisdiction, so it might be helpful to talk with an injury attorney in your area to be sure which laws might apply directly to you.
What Happens during a Negligence Case?
Generally, in a negligence suit, the plaintiff – or injured person – must prove that the defendant – or person believed to have caused the injury – was, in fact, negligent in his actions, and did not behave the way a reasonable person would have behaved under the same circumstances. The court will instruct the jury as to the standard of conduct required of the defendant.
There may be a number of ways to go about proving that the defendant acted negligently – including questioning expert witnesses, demonstrating that the defendant infringed on a law that was established specifically to prevent the type of injury that occurred, or providing circumstantial evidence.
Do Negligence Laws Apply to Children?
In many jurisdictions, children are usually not held to the same negligence standards as adults. Depending on state laws, a child's negligence may be measured against the standard for a "reasonably prudent" person of the same age and experience in certain circumstances. Children may even be considered to be incapable of negligence if they are under a certain age.
There are situations in certain jurisdictions where parents might be held liable for the negligent acts of their children. To find out about the laws in your area, it might be helpful to talk with a local personal injury attorney who can help with your questions.
What If My Injury Is Partially My Fault?
This is typically referred to as comparative negligence or contributory negligence, depending on the standard your state uses. Under contributory negligence, if the plaintiff was injured partially due to his or her own negligence, that plaintiff would not be able to recover in court against a defendant.
Under a comparative negligence standard, if the plaintiff played a role in his own injury, the damages he is awarded may be reduced according to the proportion of the injury a jury finds to be the plaintiff’s own fault. For example, if it is determined that a plaintiff be awarded $100,000, but the plaintiff is 40% at fault, then only $60,000 would be awarded against the defendant. Most states have adopted a comparative negligence standard.
To find out if your state uses a comparative or contributory negligence standard or some variation of these, consult with a injury lawyer in your area.
If you have been wrongfully injured because of someone else's negligent actions, we can help you connect with a personal injury attorney in your area. Simply fill out our free case evaluation form or call us at 877-288-7564 and we’ll get to work connecting you with a local personal injury attorney right away.
The above summary of negligence is by no means all-inclusive and is not legal advice. Laws may have changed since our last update. For the latest information on negligence, speak to a local personal injury lawyer in your state.