Negligence: How To Know When Someone Else Is Responsible For Your Injury
If you've experienced an injury in a public place, it's easy to assume that the incident was your fault. After all, people can be periodically clumsy, and accidents are often unavoidable. The truth of the matter is, though, that a great number of factors could have contributed to your injury--and some of them might cause another party to be legally liable for your pain and suffering.
The good news is that, if someone else is liable for your injury, the chances of an experienced attorney winning compensation for you are high. 95% or more of the personal injury cases that are brought forward every year are settled before they even go to trial. The key is knowing when someone else's negligence has contributed to your unfortunate injury.
Duty Of Care
Duty of care is the legal principle that certain people have an obligation to treat the public with watchfulness, attention, caution, and prudence. Essentially, if you are in a public place, you are within your rights to assume that the people in charge of that particular place have created a safe environment for you. If they fail to do so, they haven't met their public duty--and they could be held accountable for any injuries that occur as a result of that mistake.
In the United States, each state is free to develop its own tests to determine whether someone has violated their duty of care. That's why it's important to consult a local legal professional to determine whether your injury is something that falls under the legal definition of negligence. However, when you apply the general principle to your injury, it's pretty easy to see whether or not your situation is in this category.
For example, imagine that you and your family are walking in a public park. The groundskeepers, who are employed by the local park district, are mowing the grass in the area. They drive their tractors very close to your group, and a stick is thrown from the mower into the eye of your spouse. Since the groundskeepers have an obligation to act in a prudent manner, and since mowing close to park visitors is clearly not prudent, that injury could possibly be subject to legal action.
Conversely, imagine that your family is walking through the same park during a snowfall. Being wet, you slip and fall on a patch of ice. Since there's no reasonable expectation for the park to be cleared of snow the moment it falls, negligence would be more difficult to establish.
Once you've determined that duty of care has been violated, it's time to consider fault. Fault, simply put, is the specific breach of duty of care. It is used to determine who should be named in the suit, and it can also impact damages paid out by the judge.
In the example where a family was injured in the park by a groundskeeper, the person operating the mower could very easily be at fault. After all, they were operating the machinery that caused the accident. However, it's also possible that the employees were simply following the instructions of a manager when the injury took place--which would place the manager at fault.
In fact, it's almost impossible for the average person to determine the actual legal fault in their specific situation. Without an attorney who has access to human resource records, training protocols, employment histories, and other data, there's no way to understand exactly where a situation broke down. That's why almost anyone who suspects that duty of care has been breached should contact an attorney immediately.
It's difficult to blame your injury on someone else. However, in most situations, a number of factors contributed to your unfortunate incident--some of which could leave you entitled to damages. Understanding duty of care and the notion of fault is critical to understanding when--and why-- you should contact a professional from a firm like Putnam Lieb in these situations.