Tort Law Negligence
By Mike Stetzer
Tort law, one of the most basic forms of legal action, contains familiar claims like assault, battery, and false imprisonment. The most common tort law claim, though, is negligence.
A person can file a personal injury lawsuit for negligence if another party failed to act in reasonable manner, thus causing an injury to the person filing the action. Negligence may mean someone failed to take action to protect someone, or failed to have the proper safety measures in place to prevent an accident.
This standard, sometimes referred to as the “reasonable duty of care,” is usually determined by a jury. As a result, negligence claims often depend on the jury’s common-sense response to the actions of an allegedly negligent person.
Basic Types of Negligence Tort Claims
Common types of accidents that may lead to a negligence claim include car accidents, medical malpractice, and slip and fall injury lawsuits.
For example, if a person is injured by a slippery surface at a restaurant, they may be able to win a negligence lawsuit if the restaurant failed to exercise reasonable care in warning customers of a wet floor.
In the case of a car accident, a driver may act negligently if they cause an injury to another person by failing to obey a street sign, ignoring a traffic light, or checking the latest sports scores on their cell phone while driving.
In addition, medical malpractice lawsuits, a unique type of negligence claim, have several interesting features. These include:
- Unique standard of care. A doctor only needs to give the care that a reasonable doctor should be expected to give. This standard often requires that other doctors testify at trial as to the expected behavior of a doctor in specific circumstances.
- Tough luck. Just because a person is injured by a doctor’s treatment does not mean the doctor was negligent. Medical procedures involve inherent risks, and if a doctor acts reasonably, the doctor is usually free from a lawsuit.
- Limited damages? Some states have capped the amount of punitive damages a plaintiff can pursue in a tort claim. Such laws, however, do not prevent an injured person from seeking compensation for medical bills, lost wages, and other consequences of negligent medical care.
Defenses to Negligence
Even though a person may have a strong negligence case, there are a few defenses that people who are sued for negligence may employ.
In a car accident case, for example, the defendant may argue that the injured person was wholly or partially responsible for the accident, which should reduce the defendant’s liability.
This theory, known as comparative or contributory negligence, can affect a negligence claim, particularly if the accident was obviously caused by the injured person’s own negligent actions.
Other common hurdles for negligence claims are statute of limitations. These statutes, or laws, create limits on the amount of time that can pass between an injury and a lawsuit. These time limits, though, vary widely by state.
To learn more about your unique injury, and whether you are entitled to file a negligence lawsuit, fill out the form below for a free, no-hassle consultation with a local injury attorney.