Injuries can happen at any time, and in a plethora of ways. Whether it is through an auto accident, medical malpractice, or a slip and fall incident – when deciding who is responsible for the injury, the law looks at one question: Did the person involved in the accident act with reasonable care, or did they act carelessly in such a way that caused the accident to happen? Or, in other words, was someone being negligent in their actions?
Duty of Care
The question of whether someone is legally liable for injuries may be based on where there is a “duty of care” to protect someone against being injured when that person is not expected to be in the place where the accident happened.
Example: Stan is a customer at an auto dealership and smells fresh coffee coming from the staff lounge. Even though the door to the lounge clearly states “Employees Only”, Stan really needs some coffee and enters the room. While Stan is in the staff lounge he trips on a chair leg and falls, breaking a wrist. Stan would not have a strong personal injury claim against the car dealership, as he chose to ignore the sign that states “Employees Only” and entered the staff lounge. The dealership does not have a duty to protect someone who chooses to ignore the signs and enter a room where they are not expected to be.
Often the question of liability focuses on whether or not a person took “reasonable care” to prevent an injury. This can depend on factors within each incident, such as time, location, and even relationship between the people involved – leading to the same action being negligent in one situation, but not in another.
Example A: During a baseball game, and a foul ball strikes someone standing on the sideline. The liability in this situation would most likely lie with the person who was standing on the sidelines during a baseball game, as foul balls are a normal part of a game and none of the players was acting with negligence in playing a game of baseball.
Example B: A player loses his temper after being struck out during the baseball game, and he throws the bat in anger. The bat hits a person standing on the sideline. In this situation, the player who chose to throw the bat in anger would be held liable for the damages caused by the bat, as throwing bats is not a reasonable part of baseball.
Example C: A group of people are playing baseball in the street and someone hits the ball – which strikes a pedestrian who is walking on the sidewalk. The person who hit the ball would be the person held liable in this situation. It would be considered “reasonable” for a pedestrian to use the sidewalk to walk past a group; it is not considered “reasonable” to play baseball in the street, therefore the baseball player would hold more responsibility for the damages that are done.
Keys to Winning a Negligence Claim
Regardless of how the injury happened, the key to winning your personal injury claim comes down to the question of liability and showing responsibility or negligence.
- If you can show that you were being careful and the other person was being careless, or negligent, then they would typically be held liable for the damages.
- If a negligent person causes an injury while working for someone else, their employer could also be held liable. (Example: Negligence in a nursing home)
- If you were also being somewhat careless, your right to be compensated for the injuries could be reduced by the degree to which you were found to be negligent – this is called “comparative negligence.”
While something like negligence and liability seems like a fairly simple and straightforward concept, the above examples show that there can be a great deal of variation when it comes down to the details of the situation. When you have been injured and you need to receive fair compensation, it is important to have someone with a history of successful experience on your side. The personal injury attorneys at Ritchie Reiersen Law have helped thousands of clients receive the compensation they deserve through their ability to apply the laws and prove liability in each situation. With passion to protect your rights and get you the help you need, the personal injury attorneys at Ritchie Reiersen Law will be your strongest advocates in helping you secure the compensation you deserve.