What is the Definition of Negligence?

In general, negligence is defined as the failure to take proper care when doing something. In law, however, negligence is defined as someone’s failure to use reasonable care, resulting in someone else’s damage or injury.

As a boat accident lawyer from an office like Hall Justice Law Firm can explain, most personal injury lawsuits are grounded in negligence, and can arise from any number of specific situations, including the following:

  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Pedestrian accidents
  • Bicycle and motorcycle accidents
  • Boating accidents
  • Sports accidents
  • On-the-job accidents
  • Medical malpractice
  • Nursing home abuse and neglect
  • Premises liability accidents
  • Defective product accidents

Proving Negligence

In general, you must prove the following in order to win your negligence-based personal injury lawsuit:

  • The defendant owed you a duty of care.
  • He or she breached that duty.
  • The breach resulted in your injury.
  • The breach was the proximate, i.e., main, cause of your injury.
  • As a result of the breach, you suffered compensable damages.

Duty of Care

Keep in mind that the duty of care the defendant owed you will vary depending on the type of lawsuit you bring. For instance, the duty that another driver owed you is substantially different than that owed to you by your doctor or a property owner or a product manufacturer.

Burden of Proof

Also keep in mind that a personal injury lawsuit is a civil action. Consequently, unlike a criminal prosecution in which the prosecutor must prove the defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, you will face a lesser burden of proof. It’s called the preponderance of the evidence burden, meaning that you and your personal injury attorney will need to present evidence sufficient to show that it’s more likely than not that the defendant was, in fact, guilty of negligence in causing your injury.

Statute of Limitations

Finally, each state has its own laws, called statutes of limitation, setting forth the time frame within which you must file your personal injury lawsuit. Most states give you two to three years after the date of your injury, but a few give you more, and at least one state limits your time to just one year. This is one reason why your wisest course of action when injured is to seek the advice, counsel and representation of an experienced local personal injury lawyer. He or she can make sure you meet all applicable filing and other deadlines. 

In addition, he or she can help you determine who to sue and then act as your zealous advocate in negotiating with the defendant’s insurance company to get you the maximum amount of compensation possible.